The Scarborough Shooting Stars are off to the CEBL Championship game for the second year after beating the top-seeded Niagara River Lions 74-71.

Niagara found the reigning Clutch and Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Ahmad, on the first possession of the game, but Scarborough hindered  the former CEBL Most Valuable Player throughout the game, holding him to eight points on 25 percent shooting from the field.

With Ahmad taking a back seat, Jahvon Henry-Blair stepped up for the River Lions, pouring in 20 points and dishing four assists, while Niagara took an early 20-14 lead after one quarter.

In the second quarter, the extended two weeks of rest began to creep in for the River Lions as their offence ground to a halt during two elongated runs from the Shooting Stars, and it was a 21-3 run from Scarborough that saw them take a 35-32 lead into halftime. Scarborough hammered the paint throughout the game, outscoring Niagara 44-16 and dominating the rebounds with 20 offensive boards.

Scarborough and Niagara found even footing again in the third, with Scarborough edging out an 18-15 third quarter with Kyree Walker running the offence, scoring eight points and dishing seven assists with five rebounds. Cat Barber led the way in scoring with 15 points and six rebounds. Kalif Young had an 11 point and 11-rebound double-double, while Isiaha Mike had 12 points and four rebounds.

Niagara would finally battle their way back into the lead just before Elam time as TJ Lall hit a three-point shot to put them up 65-63. Edward Ekiyor was also key in the comeback effort with 15 points and six rebounds.

Mike and Walker began Elam time by combining for a series of deadly pick and rolls, and Ahmad finally hit a three-pointer to keep Niagara in range of the lead. A turnover off an inbounds play would see Antonio Davis Jr. find his way to the rim to tie the game at 70 a piece. Mike would respond with a layup of his own, and Barber would officially send Scarborough to the championship game for the second time in two years after draining a free throw.

Awaiting Scarborough in the finals is the Calgary Surge led by All-CEBL First Team selection Simi Shittu. The Surge are coming off a 77-75 nail-biting win over the Vancouver Bandits and went 12-8 throughout the regular season, tied for the second-best record in the league. In their lone match-up of the regular season, the Shooting Stars came away with a 79-65 win.

Scarborough Shooting Stars vs. Niagara River Lions boxscore click HERE.

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