The London Lightning basketball team has had the best season ever recorded in National Basketball League of Canada history. They are fully focused and ready to win five more games to be crowned champions.
This year’s team motto for the playoffs is: Lightning vs Everybody.
It’s been a phenomenal season so far
The Lightning got off to a slow start with four wins and three losses in seven games. It was ok, but not where the team wanted to be.
Then something special happened.
The Lightning started putting together some wins, and created a mini game winning streak to end the month of January.
In February, the Lightning went eight for eight, setting the record for the longest winning streak in National Basketball League history at 14 games. It was a feat made all the more impressive by the fact that eight of the 14 wins were on the road.
Their streak ended with a loss to previous record holders, the Windsor Express (12 games) – the only win the Express has had against London all season. This was one of many records that the London Lightning took this season.
Arguably the biggest game of the Lightning’s season was February 26 against the Cape Breton Highlanders. Overall, this was a spectacular night that the London Lightning had, breaking 4 of the 10 records for the Lightning this season.
By defeating the Highlanders, London got their 13th win in a row. Ryan Anderson, one of the sharp shooters for the Lightnings (and the league) hit a record setting 13 three-point shots.
Kyle Johnson set a single game scoring record with 51 points, and Royce White recorded his fourth triple double setting a league record.
Playing for each other
Head coach Kyle Julius (awarded ‘Coach of the Year’ by the NBL) said the most impressive part of that night was how guys played for each other, adding the team is united in one cause – to win – but they are also a brotherhood.
“They looked for Ryan (Anderson) ‘cause his shooting was hot” he said. “They looked for Johnson when they realized he could set a record, and left rebounds to White for his triple double”.
Ryan Anderson said the team effort helped him set the league record for most three-pointers converted with 13.
“I knew I was in the rhythm when I hit my first two shots, and then from there it was just about execution,” he said. “But the most important part was that we won as a team. We have trained since October for this season, and our hunger for a title showed true signs of progress in that game”.
Julius added this was a special road trip, where the team bonded tremendously and achieved stunning results.
The London Lightning’s pursuit for the 2016-2017 championship started on June 14, 2016 – just one day after London lost a heartbreaking game 7 against the Halifax Hurricanes in Halifax.
That night left a lot of sour feelings for the whole Lightning team, but the next day they used that fuel to plan and work hard in the pursuit of a Championship.
Ryan Anderson added: “The returning guys and myself have had a chip on our shoulders since that game seven last year in Halifax. We still haven’t accomplished anything. I came back to London because I want to win. The team wants to win, and the city and fans want us to win. And that is exactly what we will do”.
Broken records pile up
On April 25, the Lightning broke their own standing record for most wins in regular season, nabbing their 34th at home against the Island Storm.
Five days later, they extended that record to 35 wins against the Orangeville A’s.
The Lightning first set the NBLC record of 33 wins back in 2012-2013, en route to their second championship.
“Winning 35 games was great, but our focus shifted into the playoffs right away” coach Kyle said. “ We need 11 more games to win to become champions”.
“The record was great, but it means nothing if we cannot bring home the title. And that’s where our focus is now” said Anderson.
London Lightning records this season:
- Most team points per game: 115.4 ppg
- Most assists in a game: Doug Herring Jr – 19 assists
- Season assist per game: Doug Herring Jr – 7.7 apg
- Total season assists: Royce White – 212
- Total season steals: Ryan Anderson – 74
- Most valuable player (MVP): Royce White
- Coach of the year: Kyle Julius
- Leadership award: Vito Frijia (Owner and president)
Coach Julius said receiving a coaching award is great, but it’s the players that deserve the credit.
“To be honest with you, as much as it is nice to be recognized, these awards really should go to the players who made this happen,” he said. “Our goal is to bring a Championship back to London, and make our fans proud.”
One more to go
A championship win means the Lightning can set yet another record, and possibly the most important of all. It would put them up as the league leader in championships with three.
Make sure to catch the games online, and come out to the Budweiser Gardens to support your team as you can become part of history. Five more wins, and the Lightning will be crowned champions. Let’s show the Lightning how proud we are of them!
Photos via http://www.lightningbasketball.ca/