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River Lions fall short in final contest on East Coast

Released: April 16, 2017


Written by: Zach Dadson

Twitter: @zdadson


The Niagara River Lions dropped the final game of their three-game road trip 127-109 to the Cape Breton Highlanders onSunday April 16. The River Lions went 1-2 on the road trip and picked up their lone win against the Island Storm on Thursday April 13.


Both teams started out shooting well from the field and traded leads throughout the first quarter. Cape Breton led 33-27 after the game’s first 12 minutes.


Everything appeared to click for the River Lions in the second quarter as the team scored a season high 38 points in the frame. Niagara overcame the 6-point deficit they faced after the first quarter and went into halftime leading 65-58.


The River Lions led by 16 points halfway through the third quarter but were outscored down the stretch and the road team saw their lead shrink to 95-92 at the end of the period.


Once the tides turned in the Cape Breton Highlanders favour it was too much for the River Lions to overcome as they were outscored 35-14 in the fourth quarter giving Cape Breton a convincing 18-point win.


It was a difficult night for the River Lions who saw their third quarter 16-point lead fade quickly and appeared to not be able to do anything to stop the Highlander’s momentum.


“They were consistently hitting tough three’s.” River Lions Head Coach Keith Vassell said after the game.


“They finished off with 19 threes, they had 11 in the first half. Out of those 11 threes, I think 8 of them were fully contested and then it just continued on so that was tough.” Vassell continued.


Cape Breton shot 19-41 from beyond the arc in the game.


“Basketball’s a game of runs.” Scoop Jardine said after the game.


“The great teams can withstand them and every wave that comes, you’ve got to stay together, you’ve got to come together even more and get through them and I think we don’t do a great job of that right now.” He added.


Jardine led the River Lions in scoring on Sunday afternoon finishing the game with 26 points, 5 assists and 5 steals.


Foul trouble caused problems for the River Lions’ rotations as the team racked up 30 personal fouls in the game.


Carl Hall (19 points) and Kirk Williams Jr (13 points) powered Niagara’s offense in the paint while Richard Amardi (17 points) and Nick Okorie (14 points, 6 assists) led the charge outside.


The loss puts the River Lions’ backs against the wall as the team now needs to win their final four games of the season (all at home) to make the playoffs.


“We’ve got to do our job.” Scoop Jardine said after the game when asked about the team’s final four games.


“We’re all professionals here. Everybody knows what we’ve come here to do. We’ve got to get wins. We all have pride so these next four games are not just about going out there to play. We have pride so we have to go out there and get ‘W’s.”.  


Despite the loss, Coach Vassell felt proud of his team and feels hopeful that they’ll be able to finish the season on a strong note.


“I think that the guys gave everything they could. I think that the guys came committed to do what they can. At the end of the day I think I fell short in some way in not being able to position them to be able to win. Everybody played hard, everybody stuck to the game plan.” Vassell explained.


“The team has to believe and through that belief system you can achieve a lot of things.” Coach Vassell added.


The River Lions return to the Lions’ Den on Friday April 21 when they take on the Moncton Miracles. 



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