Lots can happen in the six months between now and April, but if the first couple of games in the inaugural season for the St. John’s Edge are any indication, buckle up because the city’s new pro basketball team doesn’t figure to be bringing a vanilla product to Mile One Centre this winter.
The Edge won their first game in National Basketball League of Canada franchise history Saturday night, 97-96 on Carl English’s three-pointer with four ticks left in regulation time to calm the Island Storm in P.E.I.
Just over 16 hours later, including a three-hour bus trip from Charlottetown, the Edge went tit-for-tat with the Halifax Hurricanes for 47 of the 48 minutes of regulation time before losing 124-121 in a shootout at the Scotiabank Centre in the Nova Scotia capital Sunday afternoon.
“What an effort,” proclaimed coach Jeff Dunlap of the team’s Sunday matinee with the Hurricanes, who lost the final to the London Lightning last season.
Four of the five Halifax starters in that championship series lined up against the Edge Sunday.
“Our guys were trying their best to run the kind of game we want this season,” Dunlap said. “Sure, there were some breakdowns, but every team will have those this early in the season.
“But the framework and foundation were there and to come back and win Saturday … and be in it right through the game Sunday, was incredible.
“We’ll get there,” Dunlap promised, “and we’ll catch them. We know now we can play with the better teams.”
“Sure, there were some breakdowns, but every team will have those this early in the season. But the framework and foundation were there … and to come back and win Saturday, and be in it right through the game Sunday, was incredible.”
St. John’s Edge head coach Jeff Dunlap
Sunday, the Edge trailed by three after one quarter and halftime. The Edge led 95-94 after the third quarter.
English, the product of Patrick’s Cove and long-time national team and European pro leagues star, who only signed with the hometown club last week, was Mr. Everything and then some for the Edge Sunday with 36 points.
He started off slowly against the Island Storm in Charlottetown Saturday night, but saved the best for last with his winning three-point bucket.
“He was much more poised today,” Dunlap said of English. “He pressed all the right buttons.”
Charles Hinkle back up English’s performance with 20 points Sunday. Grandy Glaze scored 18 and Alex Johnson had 17. The fifth starter, Rashaun Broadus, chipped in with 10 points.
Saturday night, in the Edge’s first game in franchise history, no more than three points separated the two teams, with the lead exchanging several times, including when the Storm went up by two with 11 seconds left in a three-point shot by Franklin Sessions.
But on the following possession after a timeout, the Edge inbounded the ball from mid-court. Alex Johnson fed English coming out of the corner and the 36-year-old took advantage of a clean look to deliver his third trey of the night.
Sessions would attempt to match that with a desperation three-point attempt of his own at the buzzer, but it went wide. That led to jubilation among the St. John’s players, including Jarion Henry, who hoisted English high into the air.
“He’s a tremendous shooter,” Dunlap said of English.
Hinkle led the Edge with 21 points in Charlottetown, while centre Glaze delivered 19 points and a game-leading 17 rebounds.
Glaze was also the St. John’s workhorse, playing all but two minutes of the game. Glaze also played a game-high 37 minutes Sunday, registering another double-double with 17 more boards.
The Edge travel to Sydney, N.S., today for a game against the Cape Breton Highlanders Tuesday, before moving on to Moncton, N.B., for a date with the Magic Wednesday. The five-game season-opening road trip closes out Friday in Saint John, N.B., against the Riptide.
The Edge will have to do without Glaze for the remainder of the road trip. That’s because the 6-7 centre has been named to Canada’s team for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Americas qualifiers in Halifax and the Dominican Republic.
The national team, under coach Roy Rana, has a training camp and exhibition game against the Bahamas in Halifax starting today, before travelling to the Dominican Saturday for an exhibition game against that country’s national team on the 27th.
The Edge have their home-opening series Dec. 1-2 against the Niagara River Lions at Mile One.