Stutz voices displeasure after Five lose to Lightning

London Lightning player Marvin Phillips covers Sudbury Five player Dexter Williams Jr. during their NBL game in London, Ont. on Sunday January 6, 2019. Derek Ruttan/The London Free Press/Postmedia Network

Share Adjust Comment Print

Marvin Phillips put the London Lightning ahead 94-92 after hitting a layup and a foul shot with 1:26 left in the game and then he followed that up with his fourth block of the game to stop the Sudbury Five on their next possession.

And with 15.8 seconds left, Alex Johnson drove to the basket for a layup and drained a free throw after he was fouled by Five’s Braylon Rayson to put the Bolts ahead 98-93.

The Lightning eventually earned a 100-93 win in London at Budweiser Gardens in what was Round 5 of this season series of National Basketball League of Canada action.

The Lightning (8-8), now hold a 3-2 edge now against the Five with Sunday’s win after losing 129-124 Friday night in Sudbury.

The loss, their fourth in the last five games, drops the Five to 9-9 on the season.

“We had a few things not go our way,” Logan Stutz, Five head coach and general manager, told The Sudbury Star. “We had our chances and were very close down the stretch. Going to have to take a look and see how we can close out these games in the future.

“We have to keep our heads up. A lot of things didn’t go our way for whatever reason and we have to find some answers.”

Earlier in the evening, while speaking to the London Free Press, Stutz voiced his displeasure with a play involving Rayson, who went down after driving to the net midway through the fourth quarter. He came up holding his head and was assessed a technical foul for what he said to the officials after no call was made.

“His eye is swollen shut,” Stutz said. “They took his headband off. They knocked him to the ground … He had a concussion earlier in the year. There was a play (Friday) where he was blatantly hit in the head. They are going after my guys and it’s frustrating. There is no protection for them.

“When you see teams this much it does increase the rivalry. Guys take things personally and guys play harder, and that’s understood, but at the end of the day, safety has to be the No. 1 priority.”

Speaking to The Star later, Stutz didn’t back down from his comments.

“A lot of my players are being allowed to be beat up,” Stutz said. “We will have to find a way to protect them. Team can’t play basketball with us, so they beat us up. If the league allows this play to continue, we will have to find a way to adjust.

“I am proud of my guys’ character and not reacting by responding with cheap shots. We are going to continue to do things right and play the game the right way. I won’t sacrifice my team’s character for anything.”

Rayson, who is second in NBL of Canada scoring with 24.2 points a game, was contained to 15 on Sunday. Cory Dixon and Devin Gilligan, however, scored 26 and 24 points for the Five, respectively.

The Lightning outscored the Five in all quarters except for the third.

“Anytime you can hold the league’s best offence to 25 points under their average, you feel pretty good about yourself,” Lightning coach Elliott Etherington said. “We forced them into 20 turnovers. They shot 25 per cent from three. They shot 38 per cent from the floor, so our defence overall was good. It’s that hustle-point stuff that we just have to get a little bit better at.”

Etherington was impressed with his team’s ability to force Rayson into committing three turnovers.

“He’s not a guy who turns the ball over a lot because he shoots it so well,” Etherington said. “So, we were able to hold him to about 40 per cent from the floor … and really eliminate his impact.”

Jaylen Babb-Harrison scored a team-high 24 points for the Lightning, Xavier Moon had 19 points and Marvin Phillips had 17.

Stutz said he’d like to see his team start stronger.

“The coaches have discussed a few things to try to help us get out of the gate with more energy and to put the guys in an opportunity to have a successful first and second quarter,” Stutz said.

The Five return to action on Saturday, hosting the 11-6 Cape Breton Highlanders at 7 p.m. at the Sudbury Community Arena.

– with files from Paul Vanderhoeven, Postmedia Network

Comments