It was an Elam ending that will be talked about for years to come as the Hamilton Honey Badgers took home the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Championship in a hectic 90-88 victory over the Scarborough Shooting Stars.
Hamilton started the game with Jeremiah Tilmon dominating both sides of the ball and putting up a quick 10 points to get the Honey Badgers established early. While the Shooting Stars ended the quarter down 26-25, their star player, Jalen Harris, was held scoreless throughout the first quarter with the combination of Aaron Best and Caleb Agada taking turns guarding him and forcing eight turnovers.
The depth that Hamilton had been fostering all year began to show itself in the second quarter as they began to break the game open. The Honey Badgers had five players in double digits, with Best scoring 15 points, Tilmon scoring 14, Christian Vital scoring 17, Koby McEwen scoring 16, and Agada again doing it all with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks.
With Harris struggling to find his shot, a number of Scarborough players stepped up, with five players of their own reaching double digits. Kassius Robertson put up 23 points on perfect four-for-four shooting from deep to go with six rebounds and five assists. Harris had 12 points, four rebounds, and four assists, while Kyle Alexander, Isiaha Mike, and Teddy Allen all had 10 points each. Kameron Chatman and Danilo Djuricic each had nine points off the bench.
2022 CEBL Champions Hamilton Honey Badgers (Courtesy Faz Visions)
Hamilton came out of halftime and grew their lead to 17 points over the next quarters. It looked like they had the championship well in hand until Scarborough began a 21-8 run in Elam time behind some aggressive pressing defence and Robertson’s shot-making ability. Scarborough cut the lead to 89-88 before Agada was put on the line to secure the game with a free throw on a controversial call that even Drake chimed in on on a couple Instagram Story posts.
The championship is the first for the Hamilton Honey Badgers, who also appeared in the first CEBL finals when they lost 94-83 to the Saskatchewan Rattlers and lost in the semi-finals in 2020 to the Ottawa BlackJacks during the bubble-season dubbed the Summer Series. It’s also the second big occasion this weekend for Honey Badger’s head coach Ryan Schmidt who flew to Toronto after his team won in the semi-finals to be with his wife, who had just delivered a baby girl.
Rap Superstar J Cole was in attendance (Courtesy Faz Visions)
Notes: Former Scarborough Shooting Stars guard and rap superstar J Cole attended the game and cheered on the team he suited up for earlier in the season from the Shooting Stars bench.
Vital was named Championship MVP for his big shot making during the game, which carried over from a guard who also recently won an NBA G League title with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers this past season.
Former CEBL star and 2-time champion and MVP Xavier Moon was also in attendance. The Xavier Moon MVP trophy was recently named after the Goodwater, Alabama native who is under contract with the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA.
Scarborough Shooting Stars Vice President and Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach Jamaal Magloire was also in the building shouting encouragement to his squad as they battled for a championship in their first year of existence.
The game marked the 250th in CEBL league history.
Scarborough Shooting Stars vs. Hamilton Honey Badgers boxscore click HERE.