Halifax, NS —– Well, chalk up two wins for new head coach, Mike Evans.
With only a few days to work with the team, the former Toronto Raptors assistant coach helped lead the Halifax Rainmen to a 97-84 win over their Maritime rivals, the Saint John Mill Rats, on Saturday, and a 111-97 win over two-time PBL champs, Rochester Razorsharks on Sunday. A great weekend for Coach Evans.
Rainmen 97 Saint John 84 (Saturday)
Rainmen head coach, Mike Evans, received a warm reception from the 3,884 Halifax fans while he addressed the crowd before his coaching debut on Saturday. He even exchanged hugs with Saint John coach, Jaren Jackson before tip-off…just a small sign of the respect Evans has in the basketball community.
Saturday’s matchup started out sloppy in the first half, with both Halifax and Saint John shooting the ball poorly and by halftime, the game was knotted at 44. But in the third, the Rainmen made improvements on the offensive end and went on a 13-2 run to build a 15-point lead by the end of the quarter. Tajuan Porter, who is known as a three-point specialist, stuggled with his shot prior to Saturday night’s contest. But under new Coach Mike Evans, who had scouted Porter during his time in college, the point guard made four three pointers to score 14 points against the Mill Rats. “It feels good, I’m out playing there with a lot more confidence. We got a new coach that changed the whole environment of the team,” said Porter “He (Evans) gave me confidence, he’s a great coach, he has experience, so I’m taking advantage of this opportunity.”
The Rainmen also had great play from forward, Marshall Brown, who led the Rainmen with 20 points and grabbed 8 of the team’s 64 rebounds. Halifax won the rebound battle, outrebounding Saint John 64-46. This also marked the Halifax debut of former NBA player, Kirk Snyder. Snyder played just six minutes and went scoreless.
With a 15-point deficit for Saint John going into the fourth quarter, the Mill Rats struggled to make a run. Halifax built up their lead to 20 points midway though the fourth quarter and didn’t look back. In the loss, Louisiana State product, Terry Martin, scored 21 points for Saint John. Saint John moved to 2-4 on the season.
Toronto native, Jeffrey Ferguson had an impressive first half for Saint John and finished with 13 points and 9 rebounds. University of New Brunswick alumni, Mike Anderson, made one field goal in seven minutes of play.
Rainmen 111, Razorsharks 97 (Sunday)
The Rochester Razorsharks are two-time PBL champs and have always been a powerhouse in the PBL….until this season. Rochester started off the season with a rocky 2-4 start, the first 2-4 start ever for this franchise. Rochester attempted to turn the ship in Halifax but could not get over the Rainmen’s hot start. Coach Evans had the team running early and it proved to be beneficial as the Rainmen put up a 37-point first quarter. Josh Dollard and Mike Mercer got the offense going early for Halfiax. Dollard had 10 points and Mercer had 11 midway through the second quarter and got up 43-28.
Halifax’s Marshall Brown blew the game wide open in the third quarter, as Brown put together another stellar performance in the back to back. The 6-7 forward put up 21 points (7-16) in 38 minutes of play. He also had a nasty dunk over the PBL’s leading scorer, Mike Williams, that brought the 2,600 Rainmen fans on their feet. Mike Mercer led all scorers with 22 points (8-15) for Halifax. Point guard, Taliek Brown had the double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Josh Dollard also had the double double with 13 points and 11 boards.
Kirk Snyder made his first baskets for the Rainmen in this contest. He had 6 points (2 of 9 from the field) in twelve minutes of play. Snyder still looked a little rusty on the floor as he struggled to get his NBA shooting touch back.
Halifax’s defense was a difference maker as they held Rochester to just 40% shooting. Coach Rod Baker looked frustrated in his team’s effort, as his Razorsharks struggled in their fifth loss of the season. Forward, Eric Walton, led the Razorsharks with 17 points. The PBL’s leading scorer, Mike Williams, who was acquired by the Razorsharks this week through the dispersal draft, scored just seven points.
Mike Mercer credits the coaching change for the back to back wins. “It’s a big difference – We’re playing better defense, people are helping each other, we’re moving the ball on the offense, there’s a laundry list of things I could go through that’s changed about this team” said Mercer “It’s working out, we’re looking a lot better.”
OTHER PBL NEWS:
– The Quebec Kebs did the unthinkable and defeated the defending PBL champs, Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry 97-88. This was the Cavalry’s first loss of the season. Quinnell Brown led the Kebs with 21 points. Laval’s Samuel Audet-Sow had 11 points.
– New 95.7 reported on their Twitter account that Kirk Snyder was released from the Rainmen in order to pursue a playing opportunity in China.
– Halifax plays their next home game against the Quebec Kebs on Friday evening.
Follow Romy Aquino on Twitter: @romyaquino
Photo courtesy of the Halifax Rainmen