It was a whiteout in the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Saturday as the KW Titans fans came out in droves to support their team at the home opener against their northern rivals, the Sudbury Five. There was a short delay at the tipoff when the lively crowd of over 1,800 threw hundreds of white streamers from the stands to the seats below and even on to the court.
After a quick clean up, the game was resumed and the Titans kicked it into gear right away. KW was playing with some really scrappy defense, completely buying into Coach Johnson’s system and coming away with some big steals in the half-court that led to some nice transition buckets.
The home team was making it rain from three-point land, shooting 50% from deep in the opening period but after some back and forth play, they gave up their lead to Sudbury after a corner three from JR Holder (19 points). Due to some poor shooting, the Titans fell a little behind after the first 12 minutes and trailed the five by seven points as Sudbury led the Titans 34-27.
KW battled back in a major way in the second and began to close to gap Sudbury had opened up. Newcomer, Myles Charvis (12 points, three steals) came off the bench with some fire as he swiped the ball from the visiting club and sprinted up the floor for a three-point bomb. Shortly after, another new addition to the team, Olu Famutimi (14 points, six rebounds) threw down a massive breakaway jam that brought down the house in The Aud as the Titans second unit provided a real spark off of the bench.
KW opened up a ten-point lead midway through the second quarter and continued to build off of that going into the intermission as a familiar Titans face, Damon Lynn (31 points, six assists, three steals) ended the half on a high note with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put the white and blue up by 13 points going into halftime with a score of 64-47.
The second half saw Sudbury giving the Titans all they had in an attempt to reclaim the lead. The visitors pushed with everything they had behind some strong play from the NBLC’s 2018/2019 league MVP, Braylon Rayson (25 points, eight assists) and were able to outscore the Titans in the third quarter by four points but KW’s grit and tenacity proved to be too much for the Five to overcome. Sudbury was able to come within three points of the Titans’ lead in the fourth quarter but some clutch plays from Lynn and his teammates accompanied by some intense energy from the home crowd made KW unbeatable on Saturday.
Lynn hit a crucial three with less than a minute left in the game and pushed the Titans’ advantage back to six points. The Five dug down deep but couldn’t answer on the other end of the court and desperation sank in causing the visiting team to begin intentionally fouling the home squad to try and extend the game. After some hail mary shot attempts from Sudbury the Titans’ secured the final possession and dribbled the ball out to seal their victory. At the end of regulation, the KW Titans defeated the Sudbury Five 115-107.
Head coach Cavell Johnson was impressed with his team’s first win of the young season. Everybody’s buying in, Johnson said in the tunnel after the game. “The new guys are listening to the vets, they’re vibing with the vets and it looks great. They’re feeding off each other, they’re learning from one another. They’re asking questions from one another, they’re taking feedback from each other. It’s amazing.”
The Titans will have a chance to start a winning streak on Thursday, January 2, as they take on a Sudbury Five team that will certainly be looking for revenge after this big win from the Titans on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.