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Battle for the Top- Hamilton Beats Visiting FV Bandits in Steeltown (VIDEO)

Hamilton (Matthew Winick) – The Hamilton Honey Badgers (8-3) pulled away late to come out with a dramatic 96-93 victory over the Fraser Valley Bandits (5-3) on Friday night in one of the games of the year in the CEBL. With the win, the Honey Badgers surpassed the Bandits for sole possession of second place in the league’s standings.

The thrilling contest saw 28 lead changes, with no team leading by more than eight points at any juncture. With both squads vying for playoff positioning, tensions were high down the stretch. Inevitably, Hamilton rallied behind its raucous home crowd and a couple of huge baskets in the Elam Ending.

“I’m proud of our guys, it was sloppy at times, but those resilient wins are what you need moving towards the playoffs,” said Honey Badgers’ head coach Ryan Schmidt after the game, “It’s not always going to be pretty but just finding a way to win towards the end was key.”

Lindell Wigginton was his usual effective self, scoring a game-high tying 21 points. He was far from the only Honey Badger to make an impact though, with five other teammates joining him with double-figure scoring. A standout among them was JV Mukama, who hit big shots down the stretch and finished with 16 points of his own.

“I think (JV) is finally being aggressive,” said Schmidt, “When he’s aggressive, it makes us tough to guard.”

“The team is giving me confidence,” said Mukama, “I’m finding my mojo, and I’m glad I’m finding it close to playoff time.”

Considering this contest was anyone’s game from the very start, the defeat stings a little extra for Fraser Valley. The Bandits were their usual scrappy selves, using a tight rotation and pressuring Hamilton’s guards from start to finish.

Luckily though, Friday’s tilt was just a regular season game, and with both squads looking towards the playoffs in a couple weeks from now, Fraser Valley is looking at the bigger picture despite the loss.

“There’s a lot of lessons learnt from this game. I think we played in multiple moment and spurts in this game, we weren’t consistent enough in our effort,” said Bandits’ head coach David Singleton, “There’s always things to get better at, so it’s a great learning experience.”

Alex Campbell led the way for the Bandits, tied with Wigginton for tops in the game at 21 points, including five three-pointers. Campbell also provided his squad with intensity on defense, showing tenacity on both ends of the floor.

“This is the beauty of the CEBL, anybody can beat anybody on any given night, and it shows,” said Campbell, “As much as this was a regular season game, we treat every game like a playoff game, but we came up short tonight.”

Fraser Valley won’t have to wait long to try to squeeze back into the win column, as the team will travel back to Abbotsford to take on the Edmonton Stingers at home on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. PT/4:00 p.m. ET.

Meanwhile, the Honey Badgers are next in action on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET as they head to Guelph to take on the Nighthawks.

All CEBL games are available for live streaming on the CEBL’s new OTT streaming service [http://../Downloads/plus.cebl.ca]CEBL+, cbcsports.ca, the free CBC Gem streaming service, the CBC Sports App for iOS and android devices, and on Twitch.

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