CEBL·CEBL ROUNDUP

Rattlers eliminate 2-time defending CEBL champion Stingers, advance to quarter-finals

There will be a new Canadian Elite Basketball League champion in the 2022 season. In the opening game of the CEBL playoffs, the Saskatchewan Rattlers took down the two-time defending champion Edmonton Stingers 94-91 in Saskatoon on Thursday.

Nighthawks upset Bandits, set for matchup against River Lions

Saskatchewan Rattlers forward Malik Benlevi handles the ball during a 94-91 win over the Edmonton Stingers on Thursday in the first CEBL play-in game of the 2022 playoffs. (@CEBLeague/Twitter)

There will be a new Canadian Elite Basketball League champion in the 2022 season.

In the opening game of the CEBL playoffs, the Saskatchewan Rattlers took down the two-time defending champion Edmonton Stingers 94-91 in Saskatoon on Thursday.

Saskatchewan, who earned home-court advantage as the fifth seed with an 11-9 record in the regular season, will go on to face the expansion Scarborough Shooting Stars in Sunday's quarter-final.

The Rattlers led for the entirety of the gameoften by double digitsbut the Stingers (10-10), aided by a 10-0 run, cut an 11-point deficit to one during the Elam Ending.

Canadian stars Adika Peter-McNeilly of Toronto and Calgary's Mathieu Kamba were key in Edmonton's comeback bid, scoring 13 of the Stingers' final 15 points.

Controversial ending

With the game at 92-91 and the target score set at 94, Stingers forward and Edmonton nativeJordan Baker fouled Rattlers' sharpshooter Tony Carr.

After being sent to the line, Edmonton players and coaches protested that the scoreboard erroneously showed the Stingers had a foul to give and Saskatchewan should not be given two foul shots.

Undeterred, Carr stepped to the line in front of a supportively silent SaskTel Centre and sunk his 19th and 20th points of the game to secure the Rattlers' victory. 

The sixth seed Stingers struggled from the field in the first quarter and shot 20 per cent, including 2-of-12 from two-point range, compared to 57 per cent for the Rattlers.

Saskatchewan lost guard Bruce Massey to an apparent leg injury with only a few minutes remaining in the second quarter before the Rattlers carried a 16-point lead into the second half.

Massey did not return to the game.

Nighthawks upset Bandits

The seventh seed Guelph Nighthawks marched into Fraser Valley to upset the fourth place Bandits 90-85 on Friday and earned a quarter-final matchup with the Niagara River Lions.

The play-in game at Langley Events Centre came down to the wire as the Nighthawks (10-10) proved to be more efficient in their scoring than the Bandits (12-8).

With the game tied at 25 after the first quarter, the Nighthawks kept up their scoring pace in the second frame and held the Bandits to just 11 points to carry a 14-point lead into halftime. 

Fraser Valley closed that gap quickly in the third quarter, going on a 14-0 run midway through the frame, and trailed by seven going into the fourth.

The Bandits continued to chip away at the Nighthawks' lead in the first six minutes of the quarter and trailed 80-76 heading into the Elam Ending.

Guelph went up 87-81, just two points shy of the target score of 89, but Bandits forward Brandon Gilbeckwho led Fraser Valley in scoring with 21 pointsbrought them back within two with four straight points.

Following a turnover from Bandits guard Malcolm Duvivier, who stepped out of bounds, Nighthawks star guard Cat Barber hit a stepback 3-pointer to clinch the victory.

Barber put up 25 points combining with Ahmed Hill's 27 to lead the Nighthawks' offence.

Guelph shot 60 per cent from beyond the arc led by Hill's 6-of-8 shooting effort from three.

Quarter-finals set

The third place Scarborough Shooting Stars (12-8) will host the Rattlers in the first quarter-final matchup on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, while the second seed Niagara River Lions will take on the Nighthawks on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.

The winners of Sunday's games will kick off the CEBL's Championship Weekend on Aug. 12 at 4:00 p.m. ET in the first semifinal, followed by the first place Hamilton Honey Badgers (14-6) against the host Ottawa BlackJacks (8-12) at 7 p.m. ET. The final will be played at 4 p.m. ET on Aug. 14.

All games will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, CBC Gem and the free CBC Sports app.

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