Nighthawks feed off crowd for victory at home

GUELPH – Feeding off the response of their fans, the Guelph Nighthawks staged a second-half comeback that netted them their first home-court victory of the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League season Saturday night at the Sleeman Centre.

The crowd had been pretty quiet until the Nighthawks started a comeback that saw them erase a 24-point deficit in the second half to edge the Fraser Valley Bandits 95-94.

“Next thing you know, the bench is into it and the crowd is into it and everybody’s into it,” Guelph coach Tarry Upshaw said. “But it has to start with us defensively. Defence will equal offence with us because we’re not like some of the other teams that shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot. We’re more of a power team. We’re more of the big guys banging inside and making them adjust and then we go from there.”

“As soon as we came out in that second half, we had a sense of urgency,” guard Aaron Redpath said. “We got up, we started full-court pressing and that got our legs going and got our energy going and shots started dropping for us and the crowd and everything started fueling us.”

Although the Nighthawks want to be a quick team, it was the Bandits who were fleet of foot in the opening half.

“We didn’t extend it,” Upshaw said. “We said lets junk it up a little bit. Lets get a little ugly, a little 2-2-1 and 2-on-1, a little run and jump – make them adjust to what we do. Usually in pros, no one does that stuff. It’s usually quarter-court, lets slug it out, tic-tac-toe. I want people when they look at the Guelph Nighthawks, they’re going to have to play 40 minutes and play multiple styles.”

Fraser Valley had been up 26-23 at the end of the first quarter and stretched that lead to 51-35 by halftime, The advantage grew to 24 (59-35) in the third quarter before the Nighthawks cut it to 78-64 by the end of the quarter.

“The key was energy,” Redpath said. “Everything starts on the defensive end with energy.”

The Nighthawks were also spurred on by comments guard Malcolm Glanville said in the dressing room at halftime. One of the U Sports players on the Nighthawks who was hoping to learn how to become a professional basketball player, the Guelph Gryphons guard had watched all of the first half from the bench and he didn’t like what he had seen and voiced that opinion to his teammates. They listened and responded with a better show for him in the second half.

“A U Sports guy said exactly what he was seeing from the bench,” Redpath said. “He called us out at half and he told us. I give him all the respect for doing that. He called us out as pros and we got that win. We have to owe that to him because he called us out at half and really made us all flip that switch in our minds.”

With the win, the Nighthawks improve to 2-1 while Fraser Valley falls to 0-2. The Bandits haven’t played anybody other than Guelph.

Jamal Reynolds led the Nighthawks in scoring with 24 points while Aaron Redpath had 16, Myck Kabongo 13 and Zeke Marshall and Chadrack Lufile each had 12.

Tyrell Tate hit for 22 points for Fraser Valley while Rodney Pryor and Dallin Bachynski each had 13.

Marshall hauled down 13 rebounds for Guelph and Bachynski grabbed 10 for Fraser Valley.

“We came through,” Redpath said. “We battled, we fought and we went all the way to the end blow for blow.”

This home game came a week after the Nighthawks’ first home game while the home opener came two days after their season opener at Abbotsford, B.C., and there was the flight home in between those two. While they were a weary bunch for the home-opener loss to the Saskatchewan Rattlers (130-110), that wasn’t the case Saturday night.

“They had a week, too, and they were prepared, but they were a little undermanned,” Upshaw said. “That happens in pro sports. We adjusted and we brought some guys in we’d already drafted. They came in and they gave us some good minutes. Some guys that weren’t in the lineup last week were this week. I think going into next week in Edmonton, it’s the same sort of thing. A short week with Sunday off and back at it Monday and we’re really just going to re-establish the way we want to play.”

“You’re supposed to get used to it, all the traveling and the flying,” Redpath said. “There’s never an excuse for any lack of energy or back-to-back or jetlag. We’re used to that now. It’s part of the profession and we just have to take that on the chin and go.”

For their second home game, the Nighthawks replaced forward Montrell Dixson and centres Jabari Craig and Robert Nortmann with guard Myles Charvis and forwards Meshack Lufile and his brother Chadrack Lufile. The difference was about 20 minutes more of floor time and 12 points.

Attendance at Saturday’s game was 1,028, a little more than 700 down from their home opener.

The Nighthawks are to tangle with the Edmonton Stingers (1-2) at Edmonton’s Expo Centre Friday night. Next home game is set for June 1 at 7 p.m. against the Niagara River Lions (2-1).


Saskatchewan Rattlers          3-1
Guelph Nighthawks               2-1
Niagara River Lions               2-1
Hamilton Honey Badgers     1-2
Edmonton Stingers                1-2
Fraser Valley Bandits            0-2
Nighthawks 95 Bandits 94
Fraser Valley      26-25-27-16–94
Guelph                23-12-29-31–95
Field-Goal Percentage: Guelph 45; Fraser Valley 48
Three-Point Percentage: Guelph 34; Fraser Valley 33
Free-Throw Percentage: Guelph 64; Fraser Valley 68
Turnovers: Guelph 18; Fraser Valley 21
Points off Turnovers: Guelph 16; Fraser Valley 24
Second-Chance Points: Guelph 14; Fraser Valley 12
Points In The Paint: Guelph 38; Fraser Valley 44
Fast-Break Points: Guelph 17; Fraser Valley 24
Total Rebounds: Guelph 43; Fraser Valley 41
Offensive Rebounds: Guelph 10; Fraser Valley 9
Defensive Rebounds: Guelph 33; Fraser Valley 32
Assists: Guelph 18; Fraser Valley 21
Blocks: Guelph 3; Fraser Valley 4
Steals: Guelph 11; Fraser Valley 12
Fouls: Guelph 22; Fraser Valley 28
Points: Guelph — Reynolds 24, Redpath 16, Kabongo 13, Marshall 12, C.Lufile 12, Famutimi 7, Johnson 5, Charvis 4, M.Lufile 2; Fraser Valley — Tate 22, Pryor 14, Bachynski 14, Bland 13, Gottselig 10, Friesen 9, Gill 6, Shepard 6.
Rebounds: Guelph — Marshall 13, Famutimi 5, Reynolds 5, C.Lufile 5, Kabongo 4, Johnson 2, Redpath 2, Charvis 1; Fraser Valley — Bachynski 10, Friesen 8, Gottselig 7, Pryor 4, Bland 4, Shepard 3, Tate 2.
Assists: Guelph — Charvis 5, Reynolds 4, Famutimi 2, Kabongo 2, C.Lufile 2, Marshall 1, Johnson 1, Redpath 1; Fraser Valley — Tate 7, Bland 4, Pryor 3, Bachynski 3, Shepard 2, Gill 1, Friesen 1.
Blocks: Guelph — Marshall 2, Famutimi 1; Fraser Valley — Pryor 1, Bachynski 1, Friesen 1.
Steals: Guelph — Famutimi 3, Kabongo 3, C.Lufile 2, Marshall 1, Johnson 1, Reynolds 1; Fraser Valley — Pryor 4, Bland 3, Gottselig 3, Bachynski 1, Tate 1.
Turnovers: Guelph — Famutimi 4, Kabongo 4, Reynolds 4, Johnson 3, C.Lufile 2, Marshall 1; Fraser Valley — Tate 6, Bland 4, Pryor 3, Shepard 3, Friesen 2, Bachynski 1, Gottselig 1.
Fouls: Guelph — Kabongo 6, Marshall 6, Reynolds 6, C.Lufile 5, Famutimi 3, Charvis 1, Johnson 1; Fraser Valley — Gottselig 5, Pryor 4, Bland 4, Bachynski 4, Tate 4, Friesen 3, Shepard 2, Gill 1.


  • Guelph Sports Journal