The slim post-season hopes of the Fraser Valley Bandits were dashed after a 108-104 loss to the Edmonton Stingers on Thursday night in the Alberta capital.
The Bandits’ 13th loss of the Canadian Elite Basketball League season ensured that the team does not have a chance to play in the league’s Championship Weekend, which runs later this month in Saskatoon.
But the game didn’t come without its dramatics, as the Bandits made the game close late and only trailed 105-103 with 44 seconds to go. However, Edmonton hung on by making a number of free throws to clinch the win.
Fraser Valley had a rough first half, and trailed 58-43 after 20 minutes, but managed to make it a game with a strong second half. Turnovers were again a killer for the Bandits, as they coughed up the ball 18 times.
“I’m really proud of how we fought through adversity,” stated Bandits head coach and general manager Peter Guarasci. “We were down big after the first half, and the guys were able to come together to make the game close down the stretch.”
Forward Kevin Bercy had an excellent game for Fraser Valley, collecting 22 points and eight rebounds. Bercy also shot an impressive 81 per cent from the field.
Abbotsford native Marek Klassen scored a team-high 27 points and dished out eight assists.
Edmonton had big games from Jordan Baker (19 points, 10 rebounds and four assists) and Mamadou Gueye (26 points and nine rebounds).
The losing continued for the Bandits the next night in Saskatoon, as the club fell 83-73 to the Saskatchewan Rattlers.
Fraser Valley escaped the first half up 41-40, but things fell apart in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, when the Bandits were outscored 23-17.
“This was a tough one (Friday night),” stated Guarasci.
“Coming off a close loss the night prior and then having a tight turnaround on the road, you really need to find that extra gear and dig in as a group. We struggled to find a rhythm. Now, it’s our job to come home and put on a show for our fans these last two games of the season.”
Tyrrel Tate was the Bandits’ top scorer on the evening, with 16 points, but it took him 14 shots to get there.
Joel Friesen and Jelan Kendrick added 15 points apiece, but both players shot only 38 per cent from the field.
Levon Kendall, Clint Robinson and Kendrick all grabbed seven rebounds.
The Rattlers were led by guard Alex Campbell, who collected 22 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
The pair of losses drops the Bandits’ record to 4-14, and the club has now lost four in a row. They sit in the basement in the CEBL.
There are only two games remaining for the Bandits, and both will occur on home court at the Abbotsford Centre.
Fraser Valley hosts the Niagara River Lions (13-5) on Thursday at 7 p.m. and then concludes the regular season when the Edmonton Stingers (13-4) come to town on Aug. 15. For more on the team, visit thebandits.ca.