Bandits forward Kevin Bercy attacks the paint during CEBL action against the Hamilton Honey Badgers on Thursday. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Fraser Valley Bandits split pair of games

Bandits post win over Hamilton on Thursday, fall to River Lions in Niagara on Saturday

The Niagara River Lions again proved to be too much for the Fraser Valley Bandits on Saturday, as the top team in the Canadian Elite Basketball League downed the locals 80-71 in Ontario.

It was the second time in the past 10 days that Niagara took down Fraser Valley.

The teams were tied at 56 heading into the fourth quarter, but the River Lions took over in the final frame and outscored the Bandits 24-15 to earn the win.

Fraser Valley shot just 32 per cent from the field, but were the better team on the glass by out-rebounding Niagara 53-46. Bandits starter Jelan Kendrick scored a team-high 17 points and added seven rebounds and five assists, but he took 25 shots to get those 17 points.

Centre Levon Kendall also had a strong game off the bench, grabbing a game-high 14 rebounds and also scoring 12 points. Fraser Valley had no answer for River Lions forward Guillaume Payen-Boucard, who had an excellent game with 20 points and 11 rebounds.

“The River Lions proved yet again tonight that they are a force to be reckoned with. We put forward a good defensive performance, but ultimately we need to do a better job of executing down the stretch,” stated Bandits head coach and general manager Peter Guarasci in a press release. “Despite the loss, I’m proud of the defensive effort we put forth tonight, and we will come together to rebound on Thursday against a gritty Saskatchewan Rattlers team.”

The setback comes off an impressive win by the Bandits on home court against the Hamilton Honey Badgers on Thursday.

Fraser Valley exploded offensively in the second quarter of that game, outscoring Hamilton 32-17 and rode that quarter to an eventual 98-75 win over the visitors.

Kendrick again was the leading scorer for the Bandits, with 22 points and adding five rebounds. Guard Marek Klassen also shined, with 16 points, nine assists and five rebounds.

It was one of the best shooting performances of the season for the Bandits, as the club shot 50 per cent from the field, and held Hamilton to just 37 per cent.

Fraser Valley’s record sits at 4-11, and they are tied for fifth place in the Canadian Elite Basketball League. Next up for the club is a visit from the Saskatchewan Rattlers (6-8). The clubs last met on June 27, with the Bandits earning the 101-89 win.

Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. this Thursday at the Abbotsford Centre.

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