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Rattling the chain: Underdog Saskatchewan wins inaugural CEBL championship

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Rattling The Chain Underdog Saskatchewan Wins Inaugural Cebl Championship
Michael Linklater and Alex Campbell admire CEBL championship trophy

The Saskatchewan Rattlers defeated the Hamilton Honey Badgers 94-83 Sunday to capture the inaugural Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) championship.

Saskatchewan captain Alex Campbell was the Player of the game, leading the Rattlers with 20 points, 11 rebounds and two assists.

“It was amazing,” Campbell told reporters after the game, speaking about the atmosphere at the packed SaskTel Centre.

“The energy was there, especially in those dire moments when we need the lift from fans, they were there for us.”

The CEBL has emphasized Canadian content from the start, requiring teams to have at least 70 per cent Canadian players and forming partnerships with U Sports and Canada Basketball.

Saskatchewan had eight Canadian players on its active roster as of Sunday, including Campbell — a University of Windsor (Ontario) product.

“It’s a great opportunity for Canadian players to stay home in the summer and get games in — professional games against quality players,” said Campbell.

In the championship game, Negus Webster-Chan (Scarborough, Ont.) added 17 points and four assists for the Rattlers, while Shaquille Keith (Toronto, Ont.) had 16 points in front of a hometown crowd in Saskatoon.

Xavier Rathan-Maves (Scarborough) led the way for Hamilton, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Honey Badgers guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. (Pleasant Grove, Ala.), a CEBL Player of the Year finalist, had 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Saskatchewan Rattlers 2019 CEBL Champions

As the host team, Saskatchewan had an automatic bid in the the four-team championship tournament, but the Rattlers also qualified on merit, finishing third in regular-season standings with a 13-9 record.

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Saskatchewan Rattlers 2019 Canadian Elite Basketball League Champions
Saskatchewan Rattlers 2019 Canadian Elite Basketball League Champions – Photo: Chad Jacobson/@CJN14

They upset the second-seeded Edmonton Stingers 85-83 Saturday to earn a spot in the championship game.

“They earned their spot,” said league commissioner Mike Morreale. “Couldn’t have written a better script.”

Hamilton was an underdog throughout the tournament, finishing fourth in regular-season standings with an 11-11 record.

But the Honey Badgers pulled off a huge upset in Saturday’s other semi-final, knocking off the top-seeded Niagara River Lions 104-103.

Rathan-Mayes led the way in that contest as well, with a game-high 28 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists.

“I’m happy for basketball in Canada,” said Morreale. “I wave a Canadian flag every single day.

“That’s what I do, and I’m proud of it … I will continue to raise the bar for this product and for this game, because I think it’s important that we do so, and we support basketball at all levels.

CEBL 2020 Expansion

Morreale added the CEBL is looking for expansion, as well as owners for the six existing league-owned franchises.

In an interview with CBC, he said the league could add a seventh franchise as early as 2020.

“We put a probably 80 per cent focus on the league to start, because you are nothing without a strong league,” he told reporters on Sunday. “We’ve seen that from other iterations that have come and (gone).

“Canadian Basketball League made by Canadians, for Canadians”

“This is a Canadian league made by Canadians, for Canadians, played with Canadians — and damn good Canadians.”

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CEBL

Moon shot: Edmonton Stingers guard Xavier Moon wins CEBL Player of the Year

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Xavier Moon Wins Canadian Elite Basketball League Player Of The Year
Xavier Moon rattles his way to 2019 CEBL POY - Photo: Edmonton Stingers

Edmonton Stingers guard Xavier Moon has been named the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s first-ever Player of the Year.

Moon, who led the Stingers in scoring (19.9 points per game), assists (5.8) and three-point percentage (43.1), edged out Hamilton Honey Badgers Ricky Tarrant Jr. to win the award.

Both Moon and Tarrant Jr. were also named to the inaugural CEBL All-Star First Team.

Moon guided the Stingers to a 14-6 record and second place in the CEBL regular season, one game behind the first-place Niagara River Lions.

The 6-foot-2 guard from Goodwater, Alabama, will also be crucial to Edmonton’s success in the four-team CEBL championship tourney this weekend in Saskatoon.

Moon is no stranger to Canada — he played 40 games this season for the London (Ontario) Lightning of the National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC).

He joined the Stingers May 10, after London’s first-round loss to the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans in the first round of the NBLC playoffs.

Guillaume Payen Boucard 2019 Cebl Canadian Player Of The Year
Guillaume Payen Boucard takes home 2019 CEBL Canadian Player Of The Year: Photo: CEBL

Canadian Player of the Year

Guillaume Payen-Boucard, at 6-foot-6 forward from Montreal, was named the CEBL’s first Canadian Player of the Year.

He led the Niagara River Lions in scoring (15.9 ppg), minutes (31) and offensive rebounding (2.0) and was also named to the CEBL All-Star First Team.

Stingers forward Jordan Baker was also a finalist for the award, averaging 13.9 points and a league-leading 9.3 rebounds per game.

Baker was also a Second Team all-star.

Samuel Muldrow 2019 CEBL Defensive Player Of The Year
Samuel Muldrow 2019 CEBL Defensive Player Of The Year – Photo: CEBL

Defensive Player of the Year

Samuel Muldrow, a 6-foot-10 guard from Florence, S.C., was the CEBL’s leading shot-blocker this season, averaging 2.1 per game for the Niagara River Lions.

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The league recognized him with its first-ever Defensive Player of the Year, edging out Marlon Johnson of the Saskatchewan Rattlers.

Muldrow set a single-game record with eight blocks July 20 against the Fraser Valley (B.C.) River Bandits.

Victor Raso 2019 Canadian Basketball Elite League Coach Of The Year
Victor Raso 2019 Canadian Basketball Elite League Coach Of The Year – Photo: CEBL

Coach of the Year

Niagara River Lions head coach Victor Raso was recognized as the league’s first Coach of the Year.

Raso led the River Lions to a lead-best 15-5 record and never lost consecutive games. Niagara averaged 100.2 points per game and led the league in most other statistical categories.

No other CEBL team averaged more than 100 points this season.

Stingers coach and general manager Jermaine Small was also a finalist for Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 10-2 record.

Brody Clarke 2019 Cebl Usports Player Of The Year
Brody Clarke 2019 CEBL U Sports Player of the Year – Photo: Edmonton Stingers

U Sports Player of the Year

Stingers forward forward Brody Clarke was listed the top U Sports athlete in the CEBL this season averaging 5.7 points and 2.7 rebounds in six games.

U Sports has a development agreement with the CEBL that allows its athletes to play with CEBL teams during the university off-season.

All-Star First Team

C – Samuel Muldrow (Niagara)
F – Guillaume Payen-Boucard (Niagara)
F – Travis Daniels (Edmonton)
G – Ricky Tarrant Jr. (Hamilton)
G – Xavier Moon (Edmonton

All-Star Second Team

C – Marlon Johnson (Saskatchewan)
F- Jordan Baker (Edmonton)
F – Tavrion Dawson (Saskatchewan)
G – Marek Klassen (Fraser Valley)
G – Trae Bell-Haynes (Niagara)

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CEBL

Guelph’s Cameron Kusch is CEBL’s top executive for inaugural season

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Guelph’s Cameron Kusch Is Cebl’s Top Executive For Inaugural Season
Photo: Guelph Nighthawks

Guelph Nighthawks president Cameron Kusch has been named the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL)’s first-ever Executive of the Year.

Kusch made the announcement on Twitter and Instagram Aug. 20, 2019 — two days before the inaugural CEBL Awards ceremony in Saskatoon.

“With the executive talent level across the board in this league I’m honoured to receive the award,” said Kush in a tweet that linked to a photo of the award on his Instagram account.

CEBL president and chief operating officer Lee Grenier tweeted his congratulations.

“Well deserved Cam,” Grenier said.

Guelph finished fifth out of six teams in the inaugural CEBL regular season with at 6-14 record, and did not qualify for the league’s four-team championship tournament this week in Saskatoon.

The team parted ways with head coach and GM Tarry Upshaw on July 1, with Kusch saying the vision he and Upshaw had for the club “were not aligned, and ultimately held the team back from achieving greater success on the court.

“When we launched the Nighthawks just over one year ago I had personally promised a fast-paced, exciting and winning brand of basketball here in Guelph,” Kusch said in a statement at the time.

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“Our hope is that today’s move is the next step in committing to that promise for our fan base.”

Guelph assistant Juan Nunez took over as interim head coach, but a week later the Nighthawks announced a high-profile replacement: Charles Kissi, who spent the 2018 season as an assistant with Raptors 905 of the NBA G League.

Kissi is also a former head coach of the Brock University men’s team, leading the club to a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Canadian university championship tournament.

He left Brock in 2018 with a 107-72 record over five seasons. Kissi is also a former head coach of the Ryerson University women’s team, guiding them to consecutive OUA East Final Four appearances.

Before that, Kissi played at McMaster University and spent 10 years as an officer with the Toronto Police Service.

Guelph had a 3-7 record after Upshaw’s firing but show glimpses of promise, including a 125-115 win over the Saskatchewan Rattlers in the final game of its regular season.

Kusch graduated from Brock with a degree in sports management in 2001 and has worked for Golf Canada and the CFL’s Grey Cup. He also managed sales and client services for BC Place in Vancouver, and oversaw the stadium’s 18-month, $500 million renovation.

His executive role with the Nighthawks appears to be his first with a major basketball team.

Several other awards, as well as the CEBL All-Star Team, are scheduled to be unveiled Thursday at 7 p.m. Central Time.

Edmonton Stingers guard Xavier Moon and Hamilton Honey Badgers guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. have been nominated for Player of the Year.

Guillaume Payen-Boucard, a forward with the Niagara River Lions and Jordan Baker, a Stingers guard/forward, are competing for Canadian of the Year.

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