The Halifax Rainmen’s goal of hoisting a championship banner this year has fallen well short of the mark.
The Rainmen, a team loaded with all-star calibre talent, were eliminated from the Premier Basketball League playoff race yesterday with a 118-105 loss to the Atlantic Conference-leading Manchester Millrats at the Metro Centre.
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The Rainmen, 10-9, had hoped to take the PBL by storm after dropping out of the American Basketball Association last March. They had gone 12-20 in their inaugural season.
“We have to hold our head up, everybody in Halifax,” said Rainmen forward Eric Crookshank.
“Last year, it was a horrible league, we didn’t win many games, and we never beat Manchester or (the) Vermont (Frost Heaves). This year, we did some good things, showed some good things.”
With a crowd of 3,743 looking on — the fourth highest in franchise history — the Rainmen built a solid 61-52 lead at half-time with countless alley-oops and dunks.
But that lead fell apart in the second half, as the Millrats took over the game with a 35-20 run in the third quarter and finished with a 22-point edge in the final 24 minutes.
The Millrats, playing without top scorer Desmond Ferguson, turned to Marlowe Currie, who had too many open looks and went 7-of-9 from three-point range for 30 points.
Crookshank said the Rainmen “slacked off on” their defence and already had a W chalked up in their heads.
“We got overconfident in the second half,” Crookshank admitted. “A lot of guys thought the game was over already and it wasn’t. I’m not saying it was me, I’m not saying it was other people, but you could tell in our body language.
“We thought that little lead we had was the end of the game, and that’s a great team that will fight to the end.”
Tony Bennett finished with 21 points for Halifax, while A.J. Millien added 19. Crookshank posted a 15-point, 14-rebound double-double and also had five assists. Reggie George hit for 16 points in his debut at the Metro Centre.
As it turned out, a win wouldn’t have mattered, as the Wilmington Sea Dawgs’ 110-91 win over the Detroit Panthers later that night would have sealed Halifax’s fate anyway.
The Rainmen wrap up their season next weekend with back-to-back games against the Montreal Sasquatch.