St. Catharines Ontario – The Fraser Valley Bandits lost to the Hamilton Honey Badgers 102-96 and drop to 2-2 at the CEBL tournament. It was their national TV debut on CBC.
Bandits take on Niagara @RiverLions (1-3) Sunday afternoon at 1 pm
It was more than a basketball game. In front of a national audience tuning in on CBC across Canada, the Hamilton Honey Badgers showed their fortitude and bounced back after a heartbreaking loss against the Edmonton Stingers on Wednesday. Hamilton lost not only the game, but their star player Duane Notice in the game’s closing moments after Notice tore his Achilles while driving to the basket. Thanks to a team effort, the Honey Badgers fought off a late run from the Fraser Valley Bandits to earn a 102-96 victory Saturday afternoon at the Meridian Centre.
The Fraser Valley Bandits started sluggish for the third straight contest and struggled to fight off a spirited effort from Hamilton’s second unit as recent addition and returning 2019 Honey Badger Caleb Agada, as well as guards Manny Diressa and Alex Johnson were lethal for Hamilton.
“It felt good. The coaching staff is great and my teammates are just as good so it was a good environment, and I think I was very comfortable and I think that showed on the court,” said Agada, who added that the Honey Badgers dedicated the game to Notice, who one day removed from having surgery was in attendance to support his team.
“Duane’s a hard working guy and he’s the heart and soul of this team, so just to see him out there and know that I have to kind of fill in his shoes is very big for me,” Agada added. “I know the guys enjoyed seeing him out there, and he inspired us.”
The Honey Badgers’ bench outscored Fraser Valley’s second unit 34-15 in the first-half and showed no signs of stopping in the second half. A spot up three-pointer by Diressa pushed the score to 76-59 toward the end of the third quarter.
Fraser Valley showed signs of life in the fourth, continuing an 8-0 run that carried over from the third to the fourth quarter, but just when it seemed like Fraser Valley was threatening, Diressa drained another three to make the score 82-65.
The Bandits would not go quietly, however. A straight-away three-pointer by Malcolm Duvivier cut the deficit to just seven points a few minutes into the final frame, which set the stage for an exciting finish.
Despite the late surge, the Bandits were again victim of their own dysfunction and were unable to consistently show that they were locked in on both ends of the floor until it was too late.
The Bandits outscored Hamilton 18-10 during the Elam Ending, but Honey Badgers guard Brianté Weber was able to put the Fraser Valley to rest with a driving layup that iced the game at 102-96.
“I’m proud of this group. It’s tough to lose a guy (Duane Notice) like that – not only from a production standpoint, but also a leadership standpoint,” said Honey Badgers head coach Ryan Schmidt. “I think the guys rallied around him, and Caleb stepped in and stepped up huge for us. It’s the ugly part of the game—injuries—but the silver lining is that it creates opportunities for other guys. I think that we rallied behind him as a team and came out and got the win.”
Both teams are back at it tomorrow for a doubleheader. Hamilton improves to 2-2 and will take on the expansion Ottawa BlackJacks for the first time in the opener at 1:30 p.m. ET. Fraser Valley will face off against Niagara for the second leg of the doubleheader at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT).