The Sudbury Five felt the pressure Saturday, as they faced off against the Cape Breton Highlanders in a match that could bring them one step closer to the playoffs and tie them for second place in the league for overall points.
The Five broke their trend of slow starts, dominating both ends of the court and shutting down the Highlanders offensive with four strong blocks in the first. The Five's attack was led by Travis Releford, scoring 14 points to almost outscore the entire Highlanders team. The Five had achieved a lead of seven by the end of the first, with a score of 23-16.
The second quarter showcased a battle between two of the league's top players. Bruce Massey dominated the quarter for the Highlanders, continually driving to the rim and drawing the foul. By the end of the second, Massey had secured 14 points for Cape Breton, including six points from his eight foul shots.
The Five's Braylon Rayson was right on Massey's heels, scoring 11 points on perfect six-for-six shooting from the charity stripe. Delivering another eight points and three rebounds to achieve a game high of 22 points in the first half, Releford helped close the period 51-45 in favour of Sudbury.
The Five's bench came alive in the third, contributing 19 of the team's 30 points in the period. Newcomer Mamadou Gueye led all players in scoring in the third, with eight points and five rebounds.
In one of his best quarters since joining the Five, Canadian Yuhanny Dalembert collected six points, four rebounds and three blocks, with only 9 minutes left in play. The Five held a lead of 13 moving into the final frame, with a score of 81-68.
Head Coach Logan Stutz looked to his role players to close out the game for the Five, allowing Sudbury local Georges Serresse to take center stage in the fourth. Serresse led the Five in scoring in the final frame, collecting eight points and two rebounds in the course of playing all but one minute of the period.
With an additional six points added by Five's Gueye, Sudbury claimed a 109-99 victory over the Cape Breton Highlanders. Releford was named the BOSS Supplements Sudbury BOSS of the Game, finishing with a total of 26 points and 7 rebounds in 29 minutes of play.
The Five are on the road next week to take on the Windsor Express Wednesday, the London Lightning Saturday and the Kitchener Waterloo Titans Sunday.