London ball

Undefeated London Lightning leans into it and takes victory for substitute head coach

“Overall, I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be here and to have done this.”

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The undefeated London Lightning didn’t miss a beat without head coach Doug Plumb in a 123-104 win over the Windsor Express on Sunday afternoon.

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Cameron Forte led the Lightning charge with 44 points and Terry Thomas had 24 as the Bolts improved to 7-0. But the big story on Sunday was Londoner Michael Provenzano’s first win as a professional coach.

If the 25-year-old was nervous, he didn’t show it.

“It was a lot of emotions,” he said. “It was stressful. It was exciting. It was infuriating at times, but overall I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to be here and to have done this.

The Bolts’ senior assistant coach admirably replaced Plumb, who returned to BC on Saturday night for his brother’s wedding.

Windsor’s Billy White scored 14 points in the first quarter, going three for three from beyond the arc with five defensive rebounds and the Express led 29-27 after one quarter, but the Lightning edged Windsor 38-22 in the second to take a 65-51 lead at the break.

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The Bolts maintained that advantage until late in the fourth quarter, when they finally pulled away from a stubborn, shorthanded Express.

“Sometimes we weren’t that good,” said Provenzano, who was still dripping wet after the team doused him with a bucket of ice water after the game. “I thought sometimes we were a little complacent. We were running a bit and that’s when you can really take a team out of the game, but I felt we let them back in the game in the third quarter.

Provenzano however has more positives than negatives.

“There were things that we had never seen before,” he said. “They threw a zone two-three at us, which I thought was smart of them, and our guys handled it really well.”

Provenzano, a graduate of Beal High School, is also a development coach at London Basketball Academy, run by his father Angelo. He played four years of NCAA Division II basketball, as well as professionally in Spain in 2020-21.

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Forte can tell Provenzano has been around the game his whole life and he said he looked ready on Sunday.

“It’s a learning experience for him, just like it’s a learning experience for us,” said Forte, an Arizona native who played for NCAA Georgia and Portland State. “He gave us his best game plan and we tried to follow it as much as possible and got him his first win as a head coach. It always does good. »

Windsor fell to 4-3 with the loss and although head coach Bill Jones said his team could have played better on Sunday, they had just eight healthy bodies.

“London took us out of what we were trying to do,” Jones said. “We got in rough trouble, but you have to credit London. Hopefully our guys are healthy and we can prepare for our next game. I believe we will improve.

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Although Provenzano was impressed with Forte’s effort on Sunday, he said the veteran goalscorer was even better in Saturday night’s 117-92 win over the Sudbury Five.

“He played very well in terms of sharing the ball. He played extremely selflessly. He played very smartly within our attack,” Provenzano said. “(Sunday) was a game that was late that we all knew was coming where he was just dominant on the glass, dominant inside and nobody could stop him.”

Provenzano said he had about two weeks notice for his head coaching debut, but he didn’t have time to feel nervous.

“I felt ready,” he said. “Doug has been a great mentor. He did a great job preparing me. One of the best lessons he taught me this year is this: when you’re ready, everything seems to go a little better.

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“I felt prepared for today and ultimately it helped ease the nerves a bit.”

The Bolts travel to Sudbury on Thursday and host the Syracuse Stallions on Saturday at Budweiser Gardens in their second interleague game with the Basketball League, an American loop. The combined calendar is part of the leagues’ post-COVID recovery plans.

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Lightning 123, Express 104

London score: Cameron Forte 44, Terry Thomas 24, Jaylon Tate 19, Amir Williams 14

Windsor score: Billy White 23, Kobie Williams 22, Marcus Anderson 19, Jachai Taylor 14, Tanner Stuckman 12


following

Thursday: London Lightning at Sudbury Five, 7 p.m.

Saturday: Syracuse Stallions at London Lightning, 7 p.m.

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