It took a while, but the Fraser Valley Bandits got their first-ever win Thursday night.
The Bandits downed the Saskatchewan Rattlers 101-89 in Saskatoon to claim their first victory. It came in their 10th game, but against a Rattlers team that entered the contest with a solid 6-4 record.
Chris McLaughlin, playing in his second game for the Bandits, led the team in scoring with 22 points. The former UVic Viking shot nine of 11 from the floor and added 10 rebounds in 21 minutes of playing time. Just an hour before game time, the team had announced that McLaughlin extended his contract after a solid first game last Saturday.
Marek Klassen added 18 points and 12 assists in his best game as a Bandit.
“To me, we don’t get that win without the character of our group. We’re playing like a team that’s 7-2 or 8-1. Without the character or leadership in that locker room, we don’t get that win,” said head coach Peter Guarasci. “Every game, to know that we’re going to battle together, no matter what the record is, and that we will always fight – I can’t commend the team enough for that.”
The Bandits led for the bulk of the game, and while the Rattlers briefly shrunk the lead to two points midway through the second quarter, three-pointers from Tyrrel Tate and Jamal Ray gave Fraser Valley a 10-point lead heading into the half.
The Rattlers were unable to draw closer in the second half, and the Bandits cruised down the stretch to a comfortable win.
“We have to turn this win into a string of wins and get this team rolling. We still got a whole second half of the season and we are ready to fight and show exactly what we’re capable of,” Guarasci said.
The Bandits return to B.C. next week to host the Guelph Nighthawks at Abbotsford Centre on July 4 at 7 p.m.