It’s been a challenging season for the Nishinomiya Storks, who earned promotion to the top flight after winning the B2 title last spring.
No one predicted it would be an easy adjustment.
On Sunday, the Storks earned a big victory to savor, beating the powerhouse SeaHorses Mikawa 90-84 on the road to earn a split of their weekend series.
Offensive catalyst Draelon Burns came off the bench and scored 24 points, including five 3-pointers, and dished out nine assists, while fellow backup Seaun Eddy, a shooting guard, provided 17 points in nearly 20 minutes. Eddy was 7-for-10 from the floor, including 4 of 4 on 2-point shots. Naoki Tani scored 14 points for Nishinomiya (7-23) and Tadahiro Yanagawa added eight.
Eddy, who got playing time in only six games with the Alvark Tokyo last season, ignited the visitors with 10 fourth-quarter points, leading all players in points in the pivotal final stanza.
The Storks led 42-41 at halftime in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture.
J.R. Sakuragi had 19 points, 11 boards and four assists for Mikawa (23-7). Daniel Orton added 12 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Sunao Murakami scored 11 points. Kosuke Kanamaru struggled to knock down his patented 3-point shots (1 of 9) in a nine-point, five-assist outing. Takanobu Nishikawa matched Kanamaru’s point total and Isaac Butts finished with eight points and 11 rebounds.
The SeaHorses outrebounded the visitors 47-28.
Indeed, it was a hard-fought victory for the Storks, and every victory is a positive building block for coach Kensaku Tennichi’s team.
Grouses 77, Susanoo Magic 71
In Toyama, the Grouses dominated the opening quarter, setting the tone for their second victory in as many games over Shimane.
Toyama led 25-10 entering the second quarter and extended its cushion to 65-40 after three quarters.
Naoki Uto paced the Grouses (15-15) with 17 points and handed out nine assists. Yuto Otsuka contributed 16 points and Dexter Pittman had 14 points and eight boards. Drew Viney added 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Toyama registered 26 assists against 10 turnovers in winning their third straight game.
For the Susanoo Magic (7-23), Tyler Stone scored 24 points and Josh Scott had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Kazuya “J.” Hatano contributed 11 points.
Brave Thunders 89, Levanga 82
In Sapporo, Naoto Tsuji and Nick Fazekas scored 25 points apiece as Kawasaki bounced back from a loss in the series opener.
Tsuji sank 5 of 12 3-point attempts and dished out five assists, while Fazekas snared 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. Rysuei Shinoyama added 11 points and four assists and Lou Amundson chipped in with 10 points, 10 boards and two blocks in 15-plus minutes.
The Brave Thunders (19-11) were whistled for 15 fouls; the Levanga amassed 28 fouls.
Kawasaki capitalized on its frequent trips to the foul line, converting 31 of 35 shots. Hokkaido made 7 of 9.
Zen Maki led the Levanga (17-13) with 18 points, including 4-for-4 from long range. Takehiko Orimo and Marc Trasolini has 14 and 12 points, respectively. Daniel Miller finished with a team-best 10 rebounds and Asahi Tajima doled out seven assists.
Albirex BB 84, Diamond Dolphins 72
In Komaki, Aichi Prefecture, balanced scoring played a key role in Niigata’s victory as the Albirex salvaged a series split with the hosts.
Davante Gardner’s continued scoring prowess (30 points on 13-for-19 shooting) led the way. Lamont Hamilton provided 16 points, Yuichi Ikeda had nine points, Keita Imamura added eight and Shunki Hatakeyama, Austin Dufault and Kei Igarashi all scored six.
Igarashi and Hatakeyama handed out six assists, with Kenta Morii finishing with four for Niigata (11-19).
All-Star forward Tenketsu Harimoto sparked Nagoya (12-18) with 19 points, knocking down four 3s in the series finale. Justin Burrell and Craig Brackens each had 14 points.
NeoPhoenix 65, Sunrockers 56
In Kosai, Shizuoka Prefecture, the San-en defense held Shibuya to 15 or fewer points in all four quarters to avenge Saturday’s loss.
Tatsuya Suzuki scored 14 points for the NeoPhoenix (14-16) and Robert Dozier had 12 points, 14 boards and four assists. Atsuya Ota added 11 points and Hayato Kawashima poured in nine.
Despite a shaky passing game (15 assists, 17 turnovers) and poor free-throw shooting (12 of 20), San-en found a way to outlast the visitors.
Robert Sacre paced the Sunrockers (19-11) with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He made 7 of 19 shots from the floor.
Leo Vendrame scored 17 points and Branden Dawson had eight for Shibuya, which missed 11 of 12 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. Morihisa Yamauchi was the team leader in assists (four) and steals (three).
Alvark 86, Hannaryz 77
In Kyoto, Tokyo prevailed over the hosts despite Hannaryz center Joshua Smith’s season-high 41-point afternoon to complete a series sweep.
Smith, a former Georgetown University player, made 16 of 20 shots, and pulled down 17 rebounds (10 offensive boards). He also handed out four assists.
Daiki Tanaka led the Alvark (24-6) with 23 points and Alex Kirk had 18 points and 11 rebounds. Joji Takeuchi scored 11 points and Shohei Kikuchi had eight. Jawad Williams and Genki Kojima both put seven points on the board, with Kojima also contributing five assists.
Tokyo extended its winning streak to four games. The Alvark (24-6) have the best record in the league. They are
11-4 in road games.
Jets 114, B-Corsairs 78
In Chiba, everything clicked for the Jets offense in a runaway victory over Yokohama.
Chiba drained 15 of 27 3s and converted 30 of 48 2-point shots en route to its second win in as many days.
The Jets’ Ryumo Ono, who knocked down 5 of 7 3s, had a team-best 25 points. Michael Parker provided 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and eight rebounds and Aki Chambers filled the box score with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Gavin Edwards gave Chiba 14 points and Fumio Nishimura had 11 points, including 3 of 4 from long range, and five assists.
Shuto Hara and Kosuke Ishii scored eight points apiece in the rout and Tomokazu Abe dished out five assists.
The Jets (21-9) had 34 assists and 11 turnovers.
Jeff Parmer and Takuya Kawamura both scored 16 points for the B-Corsairs (8-22) and William McDonald contributed 10 points and nine rebounds. Masashi Hosoya and Hasheem Thabeet added seven points apiece.
Here are the results of Sunday’s B2 games:
Fighting Eagles 84, Firebonds 82
Wyverns 84, 89ers 70
NeoPhoenix 75, Big Bulls 51
Samuraiz 81, Brave Warriors 74
Rizing Zephyr 94, Bambitious 41
Volters 88, Dragonflies 76
Crane Thunders 97, Robots 89