Despite a heroic effort from Xavier Rathan-Mayes, the Scarborough Shooting Stars dropped their first game at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre 84-69 to the Hamilton Honey Badgers. 

It was a sellout for the inaugural home game – making it the fourth game in a row the Shooting Stars have played in front of a packed house – and some of the notable attendees included Toronto Raptors Rookie of the Year, Scottie Barnes, ESPN’s Taylor Rooks, and Rap megastar Drake. The game was also the first CEBL contest to be broadcast on Bleacher Report, following a deal between the league and the platform to pick up coverage on their social media platforms and streaming service on Friday. 

“I think this day when we look back at it, is going to be a very historical day,” said Shooting Stars head coach Chris Exilus. 

While the fans filed into the stands as the game started, Rathan-Mayes got started early, scoring the first home bucket in franchise history with a midrange jumper. Mayes came into this game ranked second in the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) in assists, but it was an explosive offensive showing from the Scarborough native, who had 28 points and five rebounds. 

The Honey Badgers began to clamp down on the players around Rathan-Mayes midway through the first quarter and started to pull away. Jalen Harris, who has scored 15 or more points in each contest coming into this one, was held to just nine points on zero-for-four shooting from deep. Kameron Chatman, Jean-Victor Mukama had nine points as well.  

 Without Kyle Alexander in the line-up, the Honey Badgers found their chances at the rim, with Christian Vital leading the offensive charge with 27 points, six rebounds, and four steals. Caleb Agada chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds, and two assists, while Koby McEwen had 12 points. 

The Shooting Stars had their chances to pull the lead to within single digits throughout the game. The Honey Badgers struggled with on-ball pressure in the second quarter, and throughout Elam time, it became a battle for Hamilton to put the game away despite the lead, but the deficit was just too much for Scarborough to overcome as McEwen would eventually make the layup to seal the game.  

Even with the loss, Rathan-Mayes said it was “special” for the team to get out in front of a home crowd finally, and he knows there will be growing pains as a new team that came together quickly. 

Scarborough will have another chance to pick up a win at home on Tuesday night when the Newfoundland Growlers come to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. The Growlers pose a unique challenge for the Shooting Stars as the only team in the league to have played just one game through the first week and a half of the CEBL schedule, which was an 89-74 loss to the Edmonton Stingers. 

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