In a game that had every spotlight from the Northern Ontario city focused, the National Basketball League of Canada’s newest expansion franchise did not shy away from the attention.
With a sold-out crowd behind them at the Sudbury Community Arena, the Sudbury Five took the court against the league’s defending champions without a loss after opening the season in Windsor and Kitchener.
After the team’s inaugural season festivities, the Five didn’t waste any time getting on the board. National Basketball League of Canada Week #1 Player of the Week Jaylen Bland once again opened the scoring for the Five with a three-pointer. The Saginaw, Michigan native led all players in scoring after the first quarter with 11 points, including 3-4 from behind the arc. Sudbury local Alexander Henry also made use of his short time on the court, shooting 1-1 and scoring his first two points in a Five jersey. After the first quarter, the Five led by four, 27-23.
The second quarter was much the same for the Five’s newly established star. After facing an adjusted closely watched defence from the London guards, Bland once again led all players in scoring, shooting an identical 3-4 from behind the arc, and dropping 15 points in the quarter. The Lighting were led by small forward Maurice Bolden who scored 12 points in the half. At the half way point in the game, the Five were up ten, 61-51.
The third quarter was all defense by both sides. After an adjusted game plan that saw increased pressure on both Five guards, the Sudbury big men went to work. North York, Ontario native Grandy Glaze continued his strong play from the weekend, scoring 6 in the quarter. Local talent George Serresse led the team offensively scoring 7 points in the quarter. After 36 minutes, the Five were up 7, 87-80.
With the focus turning to defense in the final minutes, Coach Stutz turned to his shutdown lineup. Grandy Glaze continued to impress posting 4 points and 4 rebounds in the quarter. With time winding down, the Lightning continued to push the floor, led by AJ Gaines who posted 12 points in the frame. However, the late push wasn’t enough, with the Five taking the game 112-107.
“I’m still in shock from the atmosphere tonight,” said Head Coach and General Manager Logan Stutz. “We were told to expect a sell-out but could have never expected the response from the Sudbury crowd. From the start of the game to the final buzzer, the city was with us and we never looked back.”
Five guard Jaylen Bland led the way for the Five, going 11-17 from FG range and scoring 28 points. Big man Grandy Glaze led the way in the paint, scoring 18 points with 8 rebounds to close out his third game in a Five uniform.
The Five now turn their attention to the Windsor Express as they head down south for a contest against the Express on Wednesday, before returning back home on Saturday to take on Windsor at the Sudbury Community Arena. Tickets for Saturday’s game are going quick and can be purchased through the Sudbury Arena Box Office or online at www.greatersudbury.ca/tickets.