The Fraser Valley Bandits went down to the wire in the Elam Ending again, beating the Hamilton Honey Badgers 71-70 on Friday night, May 27, to continue their undefeated season.
Former Honey Badger Thomas Kennedy had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds (career-high) off the bench for the Bandits. He also scored the game winning free-throws with friends and family in the stands.
Guards Alex Campbell (14 points, eight rebounds) and Kadre Gray (17 points, six assists) also paced the team offensively.
See kids, this is why free throws are important.
— Fraser Valley Bandits (@FVBandits) May 28, 2022
The Bandits came back from an early deficit and withstood a Hamilton comeback to pull out the victory. Friday night’s contest was Fraser Valley’s second close game of the 2022 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) after sneaking past Ottawa 90-87 on Wednesday.
“Gritty win,” Kennedy said. “We just said it in the locker room. Finding a way to win. That’s what it means to be winners.”
Both teams were attacking the basket early on and playing at a fast pace as Hamilton took a slim lead in the first.
The Bandits cut into the lead by attacking the basket, with Kennedy scoring inside to cut the lead to 15-13 before taking a charge. However, the Honey Badgers would take a 17-13 lead after Caleb Agada hit a jumper to end the first quarter.
The Bandits continued to chip away at the lead and Gray continued the deep shooting with a three to give his team a 35-32 lead late in the second quarter. Fraser Valley took a 37-33 lead into halftime.
Campbell and Gray carried on their solid offensive performances into the third quarter by finishing off drives as Fraser Valley extended its lead.
The Honey Badgers went on a run in the fourth to take back the lead. The home side forced a turnover and pushed the pace in transition, where guard Michael Okafor scored to put them up 61-59. The visitors answered with their own transition basket by Kyle Adnam to give them a 62-61 advantage heading into the Elam Ending.
With the game tied at 69, Hamilton guard Koby McEwen stole the ball and found Agada who was fouled at the rim. Agada hit one of two free throws while Kennedy was fouled on the other end. He hit both foul shots to end the game.
“I probably would have been stressed if it wasn’t for my point guard (Adnam) who came over and he broke my nerves right before I shot, right before I even got the ball,” Kennedy recalled of the free throws. “He came over to me and said, ‘That looks pretty.’” Kennedy then smiled and sunk the free throws.
The Bandits will look to continue their winning ways this upcoming Wednesday, June 1 when the club travels to Saskatoon to take on the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Bandits will debut at Langley Events Centre (LEC) for their home opener against the Rattlers on Saturday, June 4.
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