Halton Stars shine brightly to topple leaders

NBBL- LogoTeam Crusaders unbeaten record came to an end on Friday (July 12) when the Halton Region Stars surprised the North of the Border Basketball League leaders with a 76-68 setback.

The Crusaders went into the contest – one of five on the night – with a clean 7-0 record while Halton came in sitting fifth with a 4-3 record. The Crusaders went into battle without their ace, Victor Raso, who is currently at Carlton preparing for the upcoming Ontario University Athletics season with his new Ravens team.

From the opening tip it was a hard fought game with the teams exchanging leads. The Crusaders looked a bit out of sync down the stretch and were struggling with three-point shots. The team looked to be playing more isolation ball in this game than they have in previous contests. Zachary Angus (18 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals) was clicking offensively but was unable to get enough help from some of the other Crusaders sharp shooters.

Halton played one of its best games of the season – moving the ball fluently and finding open shooters for easy buckets. It was almost like Halton stole the DNA of the Crusaders and beat them with their own style of play.

Sean Nickel: Week 9 Player of the Week. (Photo: Randy Smith, randysphotos.ca)

Player of the game Sean Nickel played outstanding en route to picking up the NBBL Boston Pizza Player of the Week award. He finished the game with 26 points, 3 assists, 12 rebounds and 1 block. Kyle Hankins (17 points, 2 assists, and 9 rebounds) had easily his best game of the season playing a key role in the victory for the Halton Stars. The versatility of the two created matchup problems for the Crusaders, as Hankins and Nickel were picking apart the Crusaders inside and outside.

The Stars’ Nolan Gooding was able to set the defensive tempo of the game as he was in the face of the Crusaders guards playing tight defence while coming up with 3 steals and 1 block.

Burlington Elite 59, Gaels 52

The Gaels are fighting to hold onto that 8th seed for the playoffs and were going to need to pick up a win to get some security. The Burlington Elite have been struggling over the last few weeks and the Gaels were hoping to take advantage of that in this contest.

Burlington seemed to be ready for this matchup as they felt their playoff position slipping away. Burlington had lost three of their last four games entering into this contest. However, they looked great early as they were able to build a 13-point lead in the opening minutes of the game. They saw that lead build up to as much as 16 points in the second half.

The Gaels seemed to be very flat in the first half. They were being out rebounded all game by the bigger Burlington Elite team. Miraculously, the Gaels were able to pick away at the lead due to some outstanding full court pressure in the final minutes of the game. The Gaels were stealing the ball almost willingly as they diminished Burlington’s lead down to just 4 points. However, a couple big shots by Jordan Clarke (13 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals) and some detrimental late game turnovers for the Gaels ultimately sealed Burlington’s victory.

Dwayne Harvey played another great game for the Gaels and finished the game with 18 points, 6 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. The rest of the Gaels team struggled in this one as no one else was able to get it going offensively.

Player of the game: Jordan Clarke (13 Points, 7 Assists, 5 Rebounds and 3 Steals)

Knights 72, Hamilton All-Stars 68

The Hamilton All-Stars have been playing fantastic basketball during their last four games which have come down to the wire. Unfortunately, they finish with a (1-3) record over that stretch but could have easily gone 4-0.

The All-Stars built a 15-point lead going into the second half, surprising the spectators with their dominance. Martell Stamenkovic (21 points, 2 assists, 10 rebounds and 2 steals) imposed his will down low and the Knights had no answer for him in the first half. Oliver McMayoni was also able to control the tempo of the game in the first half and was finding teammates for easy buckets off of the ‘pick-n-roll’ from the top.

The second half saw the Knights turn up their defensive intensity creating difficult shots for the All-Stars. The ball pressure by Arun Kumar and player of the game Tyrell Vernon on the All-Stars guards in the second half was ultimately the game changer for the Knights.

The All-Stars started forcing passes and committing careless turnovers, giving the Knights more possessions and a chance to get back into the game. Vernon started the game slow, scoring just six points in the first half but was able to carry his team to victory after putting together an incredible second half that saw him put up 19 to finish with 25 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 1 steal.

Arun Kumar was hot once again from the outside and finished the game with 20 points, 4 assists and 8 rebounds. Zachary Angelini was able to control the boards for the Knights and was a major factor in the second half, extending possessions for the Knights with some key rebounds to secure the victory.

Mohawk 73, Jayhawks 58

The Jayhawks entered the contest needing the win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They started the game with energy and held a small lead after the first eight minutes of play.

Mohawk played this game without star Manny Campbell and it was evident early as the Jayhawks defensive pressure seemed to be a problem for Mohawk’s ball handlers as they were committing careless turnovers early in this game.

Aron Campbell was able to settle down the offence in the second half and established a pace for the remainder of the game. Mohawk went on a run during the opening minutes of the second half and didn’t look back from there. Taylor Dowhaniuk was the anchor for Mohawk’s defence and finished the game with 12 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists, one steal, and 5 blocks, giving him the Player of the Game honours. Aron Campbell and Pattick Iavarone led Mohawk in scoring with 14 points apiece.

The Jayhawks were led by Xzennis Brereton (20 points, 3 assists, 10 rebounds and 2 steals) and Daniel Williams ( 20 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists). Despite the stellar play by the two Jayhawks guards, this loss officially ends the Jayhawks chances of making the playoffs.

Badgers 80, Braves 42

The Badgers put on a dominating performance against a depleted Braves team which was missing two of its best players in Terence Licorish and Jelani Deliovsky. With their two stars out of the line-up, the Badgers were able to demolish the short-handed Braves.

The Badgers didn’t let up until the final buzzer. Player of the game Ante Raic played a great game as he was able to do it all finishing the game with 24 points, 7 assists, one steal, and 14 rebounds. Tshing Kasamba ( 21 points, 3 assists, 7 rebounds and 3 steals) put on a show with some spectacular dunks as he was flying through the air for the majority of the game. Cedric Kasongo also chipped in 17 points.

The Braves haven’t been eliminated from playoff contention yet but will need to win the remainder of their games if they want to get the eighth seed.

This week’s games at Redeemer, beginning at 5:45 p.m., will see the 7-1 Crusaders take on the 3-5 Jaguars; the 5-3 Halton Stars will meet the 6-2 Badgers; the 2-6 Gaels will be fighting to hang onto their 8th seed as they take on the 1-8 Jayhawks; the 6-2 Mohawk will go up against the second placed 7-1 Knights; and the 2-6 Hamilton All-Stars continue their fight to make the playoffs with a game against the 1-7 Braves