The highly anticipated match up between the two top seeds, Edmonton Stingers and Niagara River Lions certainly didn’t disappoint. With the first seed on the line, both teams came out to play tonight. And play they did. From the Stingers, it was an excellent effort from the entire team! After a fairly even start to the game, the River Lions began to pull away in the late first quarter thanks to some impressive shooting from Nem Mitrovic. Edmonton managed to battle their way back in the second quarter tying the game up led by Edmonton star Xavier Moon. The Stingers then turned to Travis Daniels in the third quarter, who played an intricate part in keeping the game close as the fourth quarter approached. After a multitude of clutch shots both Adika Peter-McNeilly and Niagara’s Guillaume Boucard,the game was eventually to be decided in overtime from a controversial buzzer beater at the end by Niagara’s Boucard. But we’ll get into that.
The scoring for the Stingers was led by, you guessed it, Xavier Moon. Moon dropped 23 points on 40% shooting, and was once again so crafty around the rim. Moon also managed to bring in 7 assists as he continues to solidify himself as one of, if not the best true point guard in the CEBL. Moon also tallied 6 rebounds to go with it to cap off a very impressive performance. Along with Moon, Travis Daniels recorded a nifty little 22 point 7 rebound game. Daniels once again made a case for an all star position as he absolutely destroyed and detached the Niagara post defense. Daniels did an excellent job working on the monster Sam Muldrow, despite being a couple inches shorter. Daniels managed to egg on Muldrow and make him foul out, which really helped as the Stingers took off in overtime to defeat the River Lions. Jordan Baker proved to be an elite rebounder once more. Baker’s 14 points and 16 rebounds earned him yet another double double, an increased his lead in league rebounders per game. Baker’s 16 rebounds on the game is the second most in CEBL history, as well as the most offensive rebounds (13) in league history (tied with Grandy Glaze). Baker was so crucial in getting the Stingers extra possessions, many of which resulted in much needed scores.
The last player to tally 20 or more points was Adika Peter-McNeilly, who once again showed out big for the Stingers, and actually saved the game. Adika knocked down 2 threes late in the game, including one three pointer with just 6 seconds to go. Adika’s four threes all came at crucial times, and were essential to the Stingers victory. The 5th and final Stinger to score double digits in points was Mathieu Kamba. Kamba started the game off super hot, recording 8 points just part way through the first quarter. Kamba started to cool off a little bit after hitting the first 8 for the Stingers. Kamba finished with 14 points and two steals to go with it. Kamba’s hot start allowed a flaming hot River Lions team never to get too big of a lead. Grandy Glaze finished with 7 points and 7 rebounds in just 15 minutes of action. In his time on the floor, Grandy wasn’t able to really find his shot, however Glaze was absolutely phenomenal on the glass, and easily could’ve scooped up 15+ rebounds with a increased playing time. The last Stingers who received significant playing time were Mamadou Gueye and Akeem Ellis. Gueye recorded 5 points, an assist and a block, contributing himself very well on the floor, and never taking poor shots in order to keep himself on the floor. Gueye was smart with the ball and acted as a swing man who would occasionally drive in, collapse the defense and allow the perimeter shooting to heat up. Ellis wasn’t able to find the bottom of the net tonight, however he did end up with 2 points off free throws, as well as 4 rebounds.
What Went Well?
Edmonton stayed competitive. The Stingers knew this was an important game, and they proved that they are at this very moment the best team in the CEBL. Everyone on the floor contributed once again, and there was some huge shots, and rebounds down the stretch that allowed the Stingers to pull out a victory. While our guard Moon and McNeilly certainly stole the show, I just want to give a shoutout to Daniels, Glaze and Baker, all whose rebounding won this game for the Stingers. In the end, Edmonton took off in overtime and Niagara was just tired. The Stingers once again outlasted a fatigued opponent and overtook their position as the top team in the league. With their 8th consecutive game, it’s time to look at keeping this stretch going all the way to the title, because the Stingers can do it.
What Didn’t Go Well?
Nem Mitrovic caused some problems for the Stingers in the first quarter. However he was quickly extinguished. From there onwards, I have absolutely no complaints about this game. A hard earned victory.
The Stingers are the best team in the league now. They’ve now gone 3-1 against the River Lions, and handed Niagara 3 of their 4 losses. The River Lions will not be looking to play Edmonton in championship weekend, nobody should. 8 wins in a row, and no sign of slowing. Next the Stingers take on the desperate Bandits, whose playoffs hopes lie in the hands of a Bandits win and Honey Badgers loss. While Fraser Valley will certainly not be the team to bet on, Edmonton will need to keep their foot on the gas pedal and avoid any slip ups as Championship weekend approaches.