The Scarborough Shooting Stars spoiled the Brampton Honey Badgers’ CEBL home opener at the CAA Arena in a thrilling 80-78 victory in their season debut.
The rematch of the 2022 Canadian Elite Basketball League finals started with an extended run from the Shooting Stars, who shot four-for-four from behind the three-point line in the opening minutes while they showcased an increased emphasis on fastbreak opportunities and increasing the pace of play in the new guard-heavy offence.
While Scarborough exploded out of the gate, Brampton took advantage of the first substitution of Thomas Kennedy and attacked the paint with the U SPORTS Player of the Year out of the lineup momentarily to bring it to a 24-19 at the end of the first quarter.
Christian Vital continued to stake his claim to the Honey Badgers side without long-time leader Caleb Agada with a 36-point, 13-rebound double-double performance that tied the Honey Badgers team record for defensive rebounds.
The Honey Badgers struggled throughout their lineup, with Jeremiah Tilmon, who had nine points and eight rebounds, and Cody John, who had 14 points, five rebounds, and three assists, being their only other notable contributors.
Scarborough’s offence again grew a sizable lead in the second quarter, with Cat Barber leading the way with 23 points and six assists. Jalen Harris also had 18 points, but the team’s offence fluttered at times, leaving the door open for Brampton to cut the lead to single digits before halftime.
Brampton increased the on-ball pressure in the second half and cut the lead to one point off a Vital three-pointer. Brampton was effectively able to neutralize the offensive threat of Scarborough’s bigs, holding Kennedy to six points and 10 rebounds, Kalif Young was held scoreless throughout three quarters, although he contributed 13 rebounds of his own.
Kameron Chatman took on the role of sixth man for the Shooting Stars, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds off the bench.
Christian Vital scored a game-high 36 points with a franchise-record tying 13 rebounds for Brampton
Brampton once again found their offence just before Target Score Time (Elam time), and Vital opened Elam time, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to cut the lead to three and eventually tied the game at 76 at the free throw line. Kobe McEwen, who had been held without a bucket for the entire game, hit his first shot to bring it to 78, but Young responded with his first points to secure the game for Scarborough.
The Shooting Stars will make one more stop in the nation’s capital to take on the 1-0 Ottawa BlackJacks on May 30 before their home opener against the Winnipeg Sea Bears on June 2 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
NOTES: Prior to the game’s start the CEBL presented Brampton (formerly Hamilton) with their Championship Banner Ceremony in front of a very appreciative home crowd.
Scarborough Shooting Stars vs. Hamilton Honey Badgers Boxscore click HERE.