Daniel Walden-Mullings pulled down a pair of huge offensive rebounds, converting the second-chance opportunities both times, as the Niagara River Lions stormed back from a double-digit deficit to defeat the Fraser Valley Bandits 102-99.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League game was played on Sunday afternoon (July 3) at Langley Events Centre and leaves both teams with identical 8-4 records, good for a share of second place in the 10-team league.
The Bandits led 29-18 after a quarter and were up 53-40 when the teams went to the locker room for halftime.
But after trailing by double digits for much of the first half and by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, the River Lions came out a different team in the second half, cutting the deficit to two points by the end of the third period before taking the lead for good early in the fourth and leading the rest of the way.
“Giving up 102 points is too much, we can’t allow that, number one. Number two, the efficiency of our offense: we leave 10 points at the free throw line in a one-possession game,” said Bandits coach Mike Taylor, referencing the fact his team shot just 14-for-24 (58.3 per cent) from the charity stripe.
The River Lions would take their first lead since the opening quarter early in the fourth quarter and led by as many as 10 points before Fraser Valley got the deficit down to six at 93-87 just before the Elam Ending.
Khalil Ahmad – the CEBL’s leading scorer at 21.6 points per game – led the River Lions with 23 points while Jordan Tchuente had 22.
The Bandits were led by 24 points from Shane Gibson, the seventh time he has led the team in scoring, while Alex Campbell scored 19, Kyle Adnam and Murphy Burnatowski each had 13 and James Karnik finished with 12. Karnik also had a team-high nine rebounds and he has led Fraser Valley in that category in all four games he has played for the team.
Fraser Valley will now hit the road for their next three games with games against Newfoundland (July 5), Ottawa (July 8) and Montreal (July 11).
The game marked the return of Marek Klassen, who re-signed with the team ahead of the game. The Abbotsford native is in his seventh season of professional basketball, most recently playing for Czarni Slupsk in the Polish Basketball League.
This is Klassen’s fourth season with the Bandits and he is first all-time in franchise history for assists, second in scoring and second in made three-pointers.
The team also announced that they granted Kadre Gray his release from the team to pursue other playing opportunities.
The Bandits next home game at Langley Events Centre is July 15 at 7 p.m. against the Guelph Nighthawks.
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