Christian Vital scored 17 points as the Hamilton Honey Badgers defeated the Scarborough Shooting Stars 90-88 in the Canadian Elite Basketball League championship game on Sunday.
Hamilton won the title for the first time in franchise history after losing in the 2019 final and 2020 semi-final. But it didn’t come easily, as the Honey Badgers nearly broke his 22-point lead in the final minutes at TD Place.
Hamilton led 89-71 and needed just one point to clinch victory in the Elam ending, which was won by the first team to reach the target score of 90 points. However, Scarborough went on a 17-point run that nearly upset the No. 1 seed and dropped the championship to the final play.
Honey Badgers guard and Canadian Player of the Year Caleb Agada was fouled by Scarborough forward Isiaha Mike to sink the first free throw and win the championship.
Hamilton head coach Ryan Schmidt said, “It was fitting to win in that way. Our group was resilient…and ultimately found a way to win.” It was fun, I was a little nervous, but honestly, I had no doubts.
Agada also scored Hamilton’s semi-final victory over the Ottawa Blackjacks with a free throw. He said the environment was “challenging,” but nothing the team had never experienced before.
“We’ve been doing it all season. It’s nothing new. This isn’t the first time the crowd didn’t want to participate and see us win,” Agada said. “We believe in ourselves, we believe in our coaches, we believe in the organization as a whole, so we just did what we always do.”
Scarborough head coach Chris Exilus said he has a problem with the foul call that led to the game’s winning points.
“We are talking about championships,” said Exilus. “In my opinion, you made two teams fight. We went in and fought to the end. You never finish a game like that.”
Guard Kobe McEwen added 16 points for Hamilton while Agada had 12 points and seven rebounds.
Scarborough’s Cassius Robertson had a game-high 23 points and 6 rebounds. Former Toronto his Raptors Jaylen Harris scored his 12 points on the Shooting Stars.
Hamilton jumped out at an early start, leading 11-4 in the first four minutes, but Scarborough fought back. The lead changed 12 times in the first half before Honey Badgers took charge.
Hamilton held Harris to just two points in the first half. Harris finished third in the league with his 20.39 points per game, but Honey was hampered by the Badgers’ defense.
Harris scored the first points of the second half for the Shooting Stars with two free throws and two pointers. However, Hamilton continued to outscore Scarborough and he led 69-59 at the end of the third quarter.
The lead widened to 22 points in the fourth quarter before Scarborough’s comeback.
Schmidt, who was named CEBL Coach of the Year last week, said: “We are the number one defense in the league from start to finish.”
Robertson said the reason the shooting stars struggled for most of the game was because they couldn’t share the ball.
“If we had shared the ball and played like last time, we would have won by 20 points,” Robertson said. “We were the better team. They got away today.”
Scarborough are entering their first season after being added as an expansion team in August 2021. Shooting Stars is co-owned by OVO co-founder Nico Carino.
Rap star J. Cole, who performed with Scarborough earlier in the season, was in attendance at TD Place. At the end of the game, Drake posted criticism of the final foul call on his Instagram.
Schmidt said it was special to win the group.
“I’ve never seen a group as intimate as this one,” Schmidt said. “We’ve all gone our separate ways. It’s rare that we have a group like this summer. We can close out a group like this and put a ring on it. What else can we do?” Do you want it?”
Vital scored 17 points as Hamilton defeated Scarborough to win the CEBL Championship
Source link Vital scored 17 points as Hamilton defeated Scarborough to win the CEBL Championship