You either win or you learn.
In a scrappy and physical championship game the Edmonton Stingers defeated the Fraser Valley Bandits 90-73 to win the 2020 Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) Summer Series at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Reigning CEBL most valuable player Xavier Moon (Goodwater, AL) took matters into his own hands early on with an outstanding first-half, scoring 15 of his game-high 31 points on a nearly perfect 11-of-14 shooting, 3-of-5 from downtown and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line.
The diminutive 6-foot-1 guard added five rebounds, three steals and two assists in nearly 32 minutes to claim his second straight MVP award — averaging 19.5 points, 5.2 assists and 4.5 rebounds in eight games.
“Just gotta be aggressive, we knew they where gonna come out with a lot of energy. So I knew I had to be aggressive from the jump.” expressed Moon at half-time of the championship game as the Stingers took a 39-35 half-time lead.
Fraser Valley back-court kept the Bandits in the game in the first-half as Marek Klassen (Abbotsford, BC) had a solid first-half with 11 points and three rebounds and Junior Cadougan (Toronto, ON) added 8 points, two rebounds and three assists in the first 20 minutes.
The Edmonton Stingers turned-up the defensive pressure in the third-quarter to quickly grab a 13 point edge by limiting the Bandits transition offense pulling ahead 56-43 on a made triple by Adika Peter-Mcneilly. Fraser Valley, as they did throughout the tournament, fought-back and trimmed the deficit to single digits at 65-56 at the end of the quarter.
Stingers big run too much for Fraser Valley
Two quick free-throws by Olu Ashaolu (Toronto, ON) cut the lead to 65-60 early in the fourth-quarter — the closest the Bandits would get in the second-half as Edmonton put the game away by outscoring Fraser Valley 25-13 to earn their first CEBL championship.
Edmonton shot the lights-out, knocking down 34-of-66 (51%) field-goals as three other players reached double-figures. American import Travis Daniels (Eutaw, AL) concluded an emotional tournament with 14 points and 8 rebounds. The former Mississippi State forward lost his sister during the Summer Series but opted to stay with the team as they made the championship push.
Adika Peter-Mcneilly (Scarborough, ON) chipped in with 13 points off the bench and Brody Clarke (Toronto, ON) added 14 points and 3 rebounds in 18 solid minutes.
Edmonton Stingers Fight Adversity
Stingers Head Coach and General Manager Jermaine Small was especially proud of his team and their ability to stay focused and fight through adversity during the tournament.
“We focused on the process more than the goal and I told them, lets take it day-by-day, inch-by-inch, lets continue to get better and all the credit goes to these guys. The first game was tough, we got punched in the mouth but I told them you win or you learn and they just refused to lose.”
The two teams faced each other in their 2020 season openers, with Fraser Valley winning a 113-100 high scoring affair to hand the Stingers their only loss of the 2020 Summer Series.
The Stingers roster returned seven players from a bitter-sweet 14-6 inaugural CEBL season that saw Edmonton come-up two points short of eventual 2019 champions Saskatchewan Rattlers during Championship Weekend.
Edmonton finished with a tournament best 7-1 record. The runner-up Bandits’ picked-up five wins versus three defeats. Both teams came into the title game ranked as the top two offenses — the Stingers averaging 89.4 points per game and Fraser Valley not far behind at 85.7.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the start-up league was forced to transition to a tournament format to salvage the the 2020 season. League executives worked alongside Niagara region public heath administration and partners to create a safe CEBL Bubble that included the Elam Ending format and innovative technology.
Fox 40, a proud and innovative brand supplied electronic whistles and majority of the games streamed using unnamed cameras in an effort to limit production costs and the amount of people inside the arena.
The championship game concludes a successful two-week, 26 game Summer Series schedule, replacing the league’s traditional May to August, 20-game regular season schedule.
2021 CEBL Montreal Expansion
The two year-old Canadian basketball league has been a hit for a country that exports much of it’s basketball talent overseas. The CEBL will look to return to a regular schedule for the upcoming 2021 season and continue it’s expansion into Eastern Canada with a Montreal based franchise.