Horizon and Waves top preliminary round with wins in Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League

By Sports Desk January 27, 2023
Waves' seven-footer Tyran Walker (#7) goes airborne to block Storms' Jayrn Johnson (#3) while Derjean Royal (L) and Lushane Wilson (R) of Waves look on during Waves' win over Storm on Wednesday, January 26,  at the National Arena. Waves' seven-footer Tyran Walker (#7) goes airborne to block Storms' Jayrn Johnson (#3) while Derjean Royal (L) and Lushane Wilson (R) of Waves look on during Waves' win over Storm on Wednesday, January 26, at the National Arena. Contributed

Defending champion Horizon and Waves share league-topping honours with five wins each as the preliminary round of the Elite 1 Caribbean Basketball Winter League concluded on Wednesday at the National Arena in Kingston.

Waves edged Storm 91-87 while Horizon defeated Rivers 105-86 in the second match of the day.

Waves led 19-17 after the first quarter and 42-36 at the half-way mark. Waves intensified their defensive play in the third quarter to widen the lead to nine points 63-54 at the end of the third. However, Storm stormed back in the fourth outscoring Waves 33-28 after the latter had opened a 16-point lead at the start of the closing stanza.

The rally excited the crowd but was not enough to overcome the deficit in the end.

Lushane Wilson led the scoring with 29 points for Waves. He got support from Nathan Akade’s 16 points and Tyran Walker’s 15. Jayrn Johnson had 24 points and Brandon Armstrong 20 for Storm. Crowd favourite Walker, who had several blocks in the game, revealed afterwards that he was intent on pulling out all the stops for the victory.

"(I was) trying to go out and get a win, doing anything it takes to get a win, be scrappy defensively, just trying to make a statement going into the play-offs,” he said.

“It’s a tough team, the Storm. They are going be a problem in the play-offs, if we end up playing them.”

Storm's assistant coach Simon Brown was naturally disappointed at the defeat.

I’ll be dead honest; I personally believe that the only reason that we lost tonight is because shots that we normally score we didn't start hitting them till the fourth quarter. Simple as that,” he said. "We have to get back to a mental game. Start learning to settle and to be calm in moments like this so that we can step up. Those turnovers came out of frustration rather than out of poor play."

 Coach Brown promised that despite the loss, his team still have their eyes on the top prize.

"What you can expect is the championship,” he said.

“We going all the way to the top. We don't care if it’s the first, second or fourth-place team, whoever we get in front of us our plan is to beat them, play smarter basketball and I think we can take it all."

In the second match of the night Horizon and Rivers were locked on 43 points apiece at the half-way mark. Rivers led by one after the quarter 21-20 but then the Horizon settled down and never looked back.

They outscored Rivers 30-16 to close the third quarter 73-59 and while Rivers tried to stage a comeback in the final quarter ended up losing 105-86.

Bobby Gray led the scoring for Horizon with 35 points while the Rivers' Anthony Ottley had a game-high 38 points.

“It was great. It was a team effort, team win, that's what it takes to bounce back after a loss,” said Gray, whose team lost to Waves in their previous match. You got to play together and believe in yourselves.”

The next set of matches are scheduled for Friday (January 27) beginning at 6:00 pm when the second and third place teams battle for a place in the final and in the other match, the top team in the league will take on the fourth place team for the final spot.

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