Saskatchewan, Hamilton to battle for first CEBL title
SASKATOON – The inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League championship title will go to either the Saskatchewan Rattlers or the Hamilton Honey Badgers as each posted surprise wins in Saturday’s semifinals at the SaskTel Centre.
Saskatchewan slipped by the Edmonton Stingers 85-83 in one semifinal while Hamilton nipped the Niagara River Lions 104-103 in the other.
Niagara had finished in first place in the six-team league at 15-5 while Edmonton was second at 14-6, Saskatchewan third at 11-8 and Hamilton fourth at 10-10.
Saturday, host Saskatchewan rallied in the fourth quarter for the win as Edmonton had led 66-60 at the end of the third quarter.
The Rattlers went ahead for good when Marlon Johnson dropped a lay-up in with 1:38 to play to put Saskatchewan ahead 79-78. Johnson scored 11 of Saskatchewan’s final 15 points of the game while the other four points all came on free throws. He also had a pair defensive rebounds during that stretch.
Johnson led Saskatchewan with 17 points while Shaquille Keith had 15, Shane Osayande 13 and Alex Campbell and Ryan Ejim 10 apiece. Johnson, Chad Posthumus and Keith each had eight rebounds and Keith had three steals.
Edmonton also had five players hit double digits in scoring as Grandy Glaze led with 17 points and was followed by Travis Daniels with 16, Jordan Baker with 13 and Xavier Moon and Adika Peter-McNeilly with 12 apiece. Daniels grabbed 13 rebounds while Moon had five steals.
Sampson Carter’s three-pointer with 1:28 to go proved to be the winning basket for Hamilton in the other semifinal.
The Honey Badgers and River Lions battled closely throughout the game as they were tied 34-34 after the first quarter before Hamilton grabbed a 55-54 lead just before halftime. Niagara was ahead 81-80 after the third quarter.
Biggest lead of the game was eight (68-60) for Hamilton midway through the third quarter.
Hamilton had three players top the 20-point mark as Xavier Rathan-Mayes netted 28, Ricky Tarrant Jr. had 22 and Demetrius Denzel-Dyson added 21. Carter also had 16. Mike Fraser hauled down 13 rebounds.
Niagara had six players in double digits in scoring led by Ryan Anderson with 26. Guillaume Payen-Boucard had 21, Trae Bell-Haynes 14, Yohanny Dalembert 13, Nem Mitrovic 12 and Dorian Pinson 10. Dalembert had 11 rebounds while Pinson had three steals and Samuel Muldrow had two blocks.
Saskatchewan won three of its four regular-season meetings with Hamilton as the Rattlers won 113-95 at Saskatoon May 16, 98-85 at Hamilton two days later and 100-79 at Hamilton July 27 after the Honey Badgers won 102-96 at Saskatoon July 12.
Sunday’s final is set for 6 p.m.
- Guelph Sports Journal