The London Lightning faced off in a rematch with the Niagara River Lions, beating their Ontario rivals 117-89. While the game was closer than the final score would indicate, it still marked another significant victory for the Central Conference leading Bolts.
The game started in a similar fashion to their previous match-up, with London’s interior presence setting the Bolts up for a big first quarter. The Lightning would go on an 8-2 run to end the quarter, finding themselves up 28-20 when the buzzer sounded.
The second quarter was a different story, with the River Lions, led by Kirk Williams Jr., fought back brilliantly, scoring 29 points in the quarter while holding London to only 17 points. The Bolts found themselves down 49-45 as they headed to the locker room.
“On the road, in this league, there are players who are good enough to cause you problems if you don’t match their energy, and in the first half, we didn’t match their energy.” Said Royce White, “We came out a little flat footed. They killed us on the boards in the first half.”
“When we came to half time, we came in and coach made sure we re-focused and that we went back to what we do,” continued White, “and the second half, everything went our way.”
White took over in the third quarter, both on the scoreboard and by setting up his teammates. With White’s passing, and the Lightning finally able to get out in transition, the Bolts scorers couldn’t be stopped, scoring 33 points in the quarter.
The Lightning kept up their strong play with White again leading the way. “It was one of the better second halves we had all season after one of our worst first halves, so it turned out good.” said White.
Marvin Phillips also continued what had been a strong game for “The Dog”, and the rotating of the two bigs was too much for the River Lions. The Bolts scored 39 points in the fourth, the third highest amount of points scored in one quarter this season. London would win the game 117-89.
“Unbelievable fourth quarter, the ball was moving, the guys were so unselfish.” said coach Kyle Julius, “We were so stagnant for the first three quarters as far as being on our game plan, but then in the fourth quarter, we just really executed the game plan.”
“Obviously Marvin Phillips came in and breaks it open with some big shots, but the other guys made some plays.” Julius added, “Just a fun win to be part of, I’m proud of the group right now, they’re so unselfish, the sky’s the limit if we continue to play like that.”
“I think this was a harder game for us, than last night’s game was, any double header game is hard, especially playing the same team.” Phillips said after the win, “I think they had a bit more of an edge than we did, but we showed our character down the stretch, pulled together as a team and we ended up getting the win.”
Royce White led the team in points (23), rebounds (11) and assists (9). Marvin Phillips scored 22 points, and Ryan Anderson had 20 points and 7 assists.
The Lightning are back in action on Saturday, February 4th, where they’ll take on the visiting Moncton Miracles at Budweiser Gardens. The game will mark London’s first showdown with an Atlantic Conference opponent. Tip-off has been set for 7pm, tickets are available online and at the Budweiser Gardens box office.