CEBL·ROUNDUP

Vital-led Honey Badgers spoil Shooting Stars' home debut in convincing fashion

It just wasn't in the stars for Scarborough. The Hamilton Honey Badgers, led by star Christian Vital's 27-point effort, spoiled the Shooting Stars' home debut with an 84-69 win on Saturday night.

Bandits take home opener over Rattlers behind big 4th-quarter effort

Honey Badgers guard Christian Vital, left, is defended by Shooting Stars guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes in the third quarter of a 84-69 Hamilton win on Saturday in Scarborough. (@CEBLeague/Twitter)

It just wasn't in the stars for Scarborough.

The Hamilton Honey Badgers, led by star Christian Vital's 27-point effort, spoiled the Shooting Stars' home debut with an 84-69 win on Saturday night.

In front of a large crowd at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre that included Canadian rap star Drake and Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, it was Hamilton (3-1) who came out looking as though they had a point to prove.

"I saw an open rim and an open court. And I saw other players in the same jersey as me that I believe in. We stuck to the game plan and we all believed in each other," Vital said post-game. "We stayed with it [even] when they went on their run. 

"We did what great teams are supposed to do — you got to win on the road." 

Minutes before the Elam Ending got going, down 68-50, Scarborough (1-3) went on a 9-0 run that got the crowd back into it while igniting hopes of a comeback.

But Hamilton shut the door on the Shooting Stars by answering with a 6-0 run of its own to head into the Elam Ending 74-59.

Scarborough tried to make another push, slowly cutting the lead down with a 10-4 run. But the Shooting Stars still trailed by 11 with Hamilton only needing three more points to win, and the Honey Badgers closed it out with two easy baskets.

The Shooting Stars were led by Scarborough native Xavier Rathan-Mayes who scored a game-high 28 points, followed by Isiaha Mike's 10, and former Raptors guard Jalen Harris adding nine.

Rap star Jermaine Cole went scoreless in six minutes of play for Scarborough.

Former Ottawa Gee-Gees star Caleb Agada added 14 points, including four of the Honey Badgers' last eight down the stretch.

In the first quarter, Scarborough had a very promising start, going up 7-2 less than two minutes into the game.

That quickly fizzled out as the Honey Badgers went on a 20-3 run, riding that to a 26-14 lead going into the second.

Rathan-Mayes scored 13 of the Shooting Stars' first 14 points of the quarter, cutting the lead down to eight. A seven-point deficit was as close as it got as Hamilton went into the break up 43-36.

In the third frame, things got ugly quickly for Scarborough once again, as Hamilton went on an 18-3 run through the first six and a half minutes. From there, the Honey Badgers never looked back.

Hamilton will next play the Fraser Valley Bandits at 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Scarborough will next play the Newfoundland Growlers on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

Bandits take home opener over Rattlers

Murphy Burnatowski scored 27 points and Thomas Kennedy added a career-high 18 points with nine rebounds as the Fraser Valley Bandits defeated the Saskatchewan Rattlers 90-78 in their home opener on Saturday in St. Langley, B.C.

In what was a tightly-contested game through three quarters, it was the Bandits who proved to be too much, outscoring the Rattlers 21-11 in the final frame with Burnatowski and Kennedy combining for 16 of them.

"It's fate. I was telling everyone around me, this is the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of," Kennedy said post-game. "So to do it in front of the home crowd and get a big win like that, and to have some personal accolades, it's huge."

Both sides had met just three days prior, with the Rattlers (2-2) taking the victory on home court, Fraser Valley (3-1) set out to capitalize on its chance to take top spot in the league.

The opening frame of the game went back-and-forth as both teams got into an offensive rhythm with little time wasted. Neither team got out to a lead larger than six, as the Rattlers led by no more than four and the Bandits by six. 

Down 24-22, Malcolm Duvivier put Fraser Valley up by one with a contested buzzer-beating three to close out the first quarter.

In the second, Burnatowski flipped a switch, scoring Fraser Valley's first nine points of the quarter, including five within a 7-0 Bandits run that put them up 36-29 at the 6:39 mark.

Fraser Valley was able to maintain that lead despite Saskatchewan cutting the deficit to as little as two, going into the half up 51-46. In addition to Burnatowski's nine, Kennedy also pitched in seven points in the frame.

"Every game, it's going to be a different member. Just got to stay ready and when you're open, be ready to knock them down," said Burnatowski who had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting at half.

The Rattlers found some momentum to build off, as they got it done defensively and kept the lead from increasing to any more than four through the first five and a half minutes. 

At the 4:32 mark, things got heated between Rattlers forward Jordy Tshimanga and Bandits' Maxie Esho following a block by the former.

With players from both teams jumping in to help de-escalate the situation, and both sides coming apart, Tshimanga was ejected, while Esho received an unsportsmanlike foul.

Following the scuffle, Saskatchewan seemed to have gained a boost, going on an 8-0 run to go up 62-56 for their first lead since the opening frame.

The run woke the Bandits up as they found themselves fighting to prevent the Rattlers from building too much momentum. Fraser Valley, after being down 65-58, closed the quarter on an 11-2 run to go up 69-67 heading into the fourth.

That energy carried over for Fraser Valley as they completely took over the fourth, holding Saskatchewan to just five points prior to the Elam Ending while scoring 12 of their own. A 6-0 run from the Rattlers that cut the lead down to 87-78 in the Elam Ending proved too little, too late as Burnatowski closed the game on a three-pointer.

Saskatchewan was led by Malik Benlevi's 18 points, with Tony Carr scoring 15, Scottie Lindsey contributing 14 and Devonte Bandoo pitching in 12 points.

The Rattlers' next game will be against Hamilton, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET. That game will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.

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