The Sudbury Five hit the court in their first-ever playoff game Friday, earning a 100-99 victory against their first-round series opponent, the St. John’s Edge. But not before some late-game dramatics that almost cost the Five the win.
Ranked second and third respectively, the Five and Edge finished the regular season with identical records, with St. John earning home-court advantage by winning two of the three games of the season series.
The teams appeared evenly matched in the first quarter, as players worked out playoff jitters -- this was the first NBL Canada playoff game for more than half of Sudbury’s roster.
Five’s Cory Dixon led the team's offence in the opening quarter, delivering 11 points off five shots in less than eight minutes of play. The Five were up 28-26 heading into the second.
The Edge picked up the pace in the second frame, getting hot from the three-point line. Considered one of the Five’s success factors through the regular season, the Edge showed they were no strangers to the arch, scoring 32 points on 38.5 per cent shooting.
Olu Ashaolu led the Edge in the second quarter with nine points. Dixon replied with six points for the Five, who went into half-time trailing 58-51.
The Five found their footing in the third quarter with a strong defensive effort that limited the Edge to 13 points. The Five’s Jaylen Bland led the comeback, scoring six points for the second straight quarter to give Sudbury a three-point advantage.
The Edge got off to a strong start in the final frame, quickly closing the gap. Up by two with 30 seconds left to play, the Five's fate rested in the hands of St. John’s Glen Davis, who dramatically missed both his foul shots, only to be fouled again.
This time, Davis sunk one to make it 100-99, but that is as close as it would get. The Edge will host Game 2 on Sunday, at 12:30 p.m., after which the two teams will make their way to Sudbury, for the city’s first NBL Canada Playoff game April 10.