SAINT JOHN, NB - The Saint John Mill Rats clinched their playoff berth on Thursday evening against the Oshawa Power with a final score off 113-99 in front of 2,134 fans.
The Mill Rats were on fire from the start of the game, taking the lead early and maintaining it throughout the game. With 8:49 on the clock, the Mill Rats held an 11-3 lead. The Power narrowed the gap with just under three minutes left in the first but the Mill Rats were able to maintain their lead and close the first quarter, 34-24.
The Mill Rats scored 34 points in each quarter of the first half. Stanley Ocitti and Darren Duncan played well in the 2nd quarter, netting 7 points each. With 5:35 on the clock before half, Mill Rats guard Anthony Anderson hit a 3 pointer, giving the Mill Rats an 18- point lead, 53-35 over the Power. The Mill Rats closed the half ahead 68-43.
The Power fought back in the third, scoring 26 points to the Mill Rats 28, but it wasn't enough to kill the double-digit spread. The Mill Rats closed the third, 96-69.
The last quarter was the only quarter the Power were able to hit more baskets than the Mill Rats, but Saint John kept their lead, playing an entertaining game full of dunks, jams and alley oops.
Mill Rats head coach and former Antonio Spurs NBA champion Jaren Jackson had one thing to say, "Playoffs baby, playoffs!"
This marks the first time the Saint John Mill Rats have made playoffs in their franchise history. For the players that were with the team last year, it is a refreshing way to conclude the inaugural season of the National Basketball League of Canada.
Anthony Anderson, who has been a key player for the team since last season said, "This is big for all of us - the franchise, Ian, Coop, coach, but more importantly the guys that were here last year. Steve, Stan, PJ, Modibo. We missed playoffs by one game last year. To get it this time . . . it's big for us."
The Mill Rats were led by Jermaine Blackburn who scored 22 points. Stanley Ocitti played a huge game with a double double, getting 10 boards, 20 points and 5 assists. Anthony Anderson contributed 20 points and 10 assists.
Overall, the Mill Rats played a strong defensive game and out-rebounded the Power 59-47.
Leading scorers for the Power were game high Brandon Robinson with 24, Rick Bodiford with 19 and Omari Johnson with 16.
The Mill Rats, who will play their last home game on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. against the Halifax Rainmen, rise 17-18 while the Oshawa Power fall 14-21.
In other NBL action on Thursday, the host Halifax Rainmen clinched second place in the NBL standings as they defeated the Moncton Miracles by a score of 106-94 in front of 3,864 fans.
Justin Johnson and Joey Haywood led the Rainmen with 19 points each, followed by Taliek Brown with 15. Tyrone Levett added 12 points in the win.
Leading the Miracles was Darrell Wonge with 23 points, followed by Trayvon Lathan with 22. Sylvania Watkins had 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Miracles.
The Rainmen will play their first playoff game on the road in Quebec City on Sunday, March 11.
The team will then return home for the final two games of the series.