Coming off their first road victory of the season on June 22nd in Fraser Valley, the Edmonton Stingers looked to continue their momentum against the first place Niagra River Lions on Friday night at the Hive. It was going to be a true test of the Stingers’ depth, with key contributors Jordan Baker and Brody Clarke both out of the lineup for the evening’s action. However, the return of Akeem Ellis to the starting lineup and the addition of Zac Overwater looked to balance out the pair of subtractions at forward and the duo did so in spades at the Edmonton Expo Centre on
Let’s break it down.
The game started in the River Lions favour, with guard Alex Johnson starting the game off with a second chance three-pointer. That was soon followed up by a Samuel Muldrow dunk to establish an early lead for Niagara. The Stingers looked a little out of sync to start the game, with holes opening up on defence and Travis Daniels getting tagged with an early offensive foul. However, Akeem Ellis managed to stop the bleeding with the Stingers first basket at the 7:10 mark. Unfortunately, however, Johnson responded, once again hitting a three. One thing noticeable about the Stingers was a lot of isolation play, with the ball getting stuck on players rather than passing it around. Despite this, Mathieu Kamba hit a three against the clock for the Stingers. Shortly after, some slick passing inside by Niagra’s Johnson leads to an easy basket for River Lions’ forward Doran Pinson. However, Mamadou Gueye got back on track with a three-pointer, shrinking Edmonton’s deficit to two. Within seconds, super-sub Grandy Glaze had driven the baseline and hit a reverse layup to tie the game. While the Lions’ Pinson responded down the other way for Niagra, Stingers’ guard Ashton Smith was able to drive for both a basket and a foul, leading to the game’s first media timeout with the game tied at 14.
Smith made the free throw coming out of the time out, and from there, the fans in attendance were treated to something they hadn’t seen from the Stingers at home this season - full-court pressure. However, Johnson managed to break up the press by nailing a three from the corner, and after a miss on a three-point attempt from the Stingers’ Peter-McNeilly, Niagra forward Yohanny Dalembert began to establish his dominance inside. The brother for former NBA player Samuel Dalembert picked apart newcomer Zac Overwater, leading to a layup and a dunk for the River Lions. From there, Stingers forward Deondre Parks took the ball to the rim by himself for another basket and foul. With the game within one, Niagra’s Nem Mitrovic hit a late jumper to increase the lead to three, however, Ellis came back with a three-pointer to tie the game going into the quarter break.
STINGERS 23, RIVER LIONS 23
The Stingers started the second quarter with the ball, and Deondre Parks was quickly able to isolate his man and draw a foul on a three-pointer. Parks was able to make two of the free throws to give the Stingers their first lead of the game. The continued full-court pressure from the Stingers led to a quick turnover and a subsequent Adika Peter-McNeilly three-pointer. Once again, however, the Lions were able to respond in the form of a Ryan Anderson three-pointer. Additionally, Dalembert continued to dominate the boards as he had in the first quarter, picking up both a basket and foul. Heading back the other way, Travis Daniels was mauled on an offensive rebound and again, he made both free throws. The full-court press from the Stingers continued to pay dividends, as the Lions’ Anderson made a wild attempt for a three that the Stingers were able to turn the other way and made it an Ellis three-pointer. Dalembert again was able to power over Daniels for the Lions, but some quick ball movement on the other end allowed the Stingers big man to get a little revenge with a massive put-back dunk. However, Niagra forward Guillaume Payen-Boucard hit a pair of shots to keep the Lions within reach, along with consistently causing chaos in the paint possession after possession. In fact, it seemed as though the entire Stingers roster was driving to the inside effectively, with the game beginning to get a little rough. Both Ashton Smith and Daniels continued driving effectively for the Stingers, taking it to the rim time after time. However, at 5:11, some tough defence by both teams led to a hard foul on Ashton Smith by the Lions’ Mitrovic. During the break in play, Ryan Anderson got into it with the Stingers’ Deondre Parks, leading to a Technical Foul being issued on Anderson. Peter-McNeilly hits the free throw, extending Edmonton’s lead. By this point, the Stingers had really found their groove, with Mamadou Gueye sliding in the paint for an easy two. Nem Mitrovic was fouled by Kamba as we head to the media timeout with the Stingers up by seven, 45-38.
Mitrovic hits both free throws coming out of the timeout, though the Stingers were able to respond with a put-back jumper from Adika Peter-McNeilly. From there, some good defence leads to a turnover for the Stingers, only to have it taken away by a Grandy Glaze offensive foul. However, Johnson missed a three for the Lions on the resulting possession, and a little turn of luck goes the Stingers way in the form of an errant pass off the rim landing directly in the hands of Travis Daniels. Daniels made no mistake, nailing a three from the 45. Bluntly, the Lions had gone stone cold, and the Stingers were able to take advantage and force the Lions to call a timeout with the Stingers ahead 52-40.
The Stingers tenacious rebounding led to a second-chance three-pointer by Gueye immediately out of the timeout. On the Lions’ next possession, Samuel Muldrow bangs inside to earn a couple of free throws, which he made. The Stingers pushed a little too hard on successive trips, leading to two turnovers. However, some tough defence led to another alley-oop dunk by Travis Daniels to close out the half.
Travis Daniels and Mamadou Gueye lead the Stingers with 10 points each, while Grandy Glaze paced the team in the rebounding department with 8. Alex Johnson led the River Lions with 9 points.
STINGERS 57, RIVER LIONS 42
It was a tale of two teams coming into the second half. On one hand, Mitrovic missed an easy layup for the Lions; conversely, Ashton Smith nailed am early three-pointer to extend the lead. Shortly after, Akeem Ellis took a missed shot coast-to-coast, with Travis Daniels able to come in and clean it up. However, Mitrovic answered for the Lions and Dorian Pinson managed to clean up a rebound and bangs inside for a foul, making both subsequent free throws. Travis Daniels continues his hot streak from the first half, nailing another three. Samuel Muldrow replies for the Lions.
The early goings of the second half saw both teams receiving relatively free access to the paint. The only difference, however, was that the Stingers were finishing, the Lions were not. After a really tough third foul to Mathieu Kamba at 7:14, the Lions go to work. Banging inside, Pinson was able to clean up some offensive rebounds, resulting in points on the board for the River Lions. Kamba was fearless, though, going into the paint and drawing a tough third foul on Boucard. While Kamba was able to go one-for-two from the charity stripe, the Lions responded with Ryan Anderson nailing a three-pointer from the deep corner. With the Stingers coming back the other way, Ashton Smith found a free lane to the basket but was fouled hard by Pinson. It appeared as though Smith damaged his ankle on the play, and unfortunately had to be removed. Following a missed three-pointer by Pinson, Adika Peter-McNeilly hit a tough three-pointer with Ryan Anderson all over him. Shortly after, Mitrovic missed yet another three-pointer, leading to both a Deondre Parks jumper and a timeout by the Lions. With 4:46 remaining in the third, the Stingers led 74-53.
It seemed the momentum continued to be on the Stingers side, with Johnson missing a three out of the timeout. However, on the next play, Grandy Glaze was called for a very suspect offensive foul on the rebound. On the ensuing rebound, Glaze shoved Mitrovic, creating both an Unsporting Foul and a Disqualifying Foul. Not only was Glaze ejected from the game, but the River Lions received four free throws and possession of the ball. The Lions made all their free throws, and Pinson managed to bang inside for another two points. The resulting six-point possession reduced the Stingers lead to 15. After the Stingers missed on their next possession, the Lions’ Johnson hits a three and forced a timeout from the Stingers with 3:20 remaining. At the break, the Stingers continued to lead 74-62.
Out of the timeout, Akeem Ellis took charge, hitting a 25-footer for 3. Once again, however, Dorian Pinson made a play on the inside of the paint, cleaning up a missed shot from Ryan Anderson for two points. Boucard picked up his fourth foul, as Ellis hits an off-balance jumper. However, Alex Johnson kept the game within reach with a drive and a foul on the following possession. Shortly after, Kamba responded with a three off a Peter-McNeilly drive for the Stingers. While some sloppy stretches led to turnovers by both sides, Ryan Anderson created some offence for the Lions on a drive in the paint, while Peter-McNeilly responded with a three-pointer off a sweet pass from Deondre Parks. With the quarter coming to an end, Yohanny Dalembert picked apart Akeem Ellis for two inside. By the end of the quarter, the Stingers’ lead had been cut to 14.
Mathieu Kamba, Deondre Parks and Travis Daniels all had 14 points to lead the Stingers after three quarters, while Alex Johnson led the River Lions with 18.
STINGERS 85, RIVER LIONS 71
Coming out of the gate in the fourth, Akeem Ellis hit a three-pointer to extend the Stingers lead. From there, the big men for Niagra kick in, with Pinson hitting a bucket underneath. On the following possession, Dalembert fought his way to the line for a foul, making both resulting free throws. However, Adika Peter-McNeilly responded with a three off a sweet passing play involving everyone on the floor. Shortly after, Ryan Anderson and Akeem Ellis traded a pair of threes, while Dalembert and Boucard were both able to lay down dunks on a pair of costly turnovers. With 6:40 remaining, the Stingers called a timeout with their lead reduced to 94-84.
Out of the timeout, the Lions started exhibiting some full-court pressure of their own. While both sides missed shots from outside, Akeem Ellis was able to drive inside and pick up both a basket and a foul, completing a three-point play on the resulting free throw. Unfortunately, another two missed threes led to Dorian Pinson driving and scoring for the Lions while getting fouled, completing his own three-point play in response. Both teams tightened the screws defensively in the latter half of the quarter; however, while the Stingers were able to pick up some key steals, a shot clock violation left the team unable to capitalize. Shortly after, Once things have settled, some quick passing from the Stingers led to a Samuel Muldrow foul on Travis Daniels. With 3:41 left and the Stingers ahead by ten, the River Lions called a time out.
Though Daniels managed to make his first free throw following the break, the Lions’ Boucard capitalized on some sloppy offensive play from the Stingers and picked up a layup on the fast break. Again, however, the game started to break down. On the next dead ball, Boucard began arguing with the officials about a potential foul on a previous drive. Boucard was assessed a technical foul for his efforts, fouling out after what was his fifth foul of the game. Peter-McNeilly nailed the resulting free throw to make the game 101-91. However, Mathieu Kamba missed a three shortly after, and Alex Johnson took the ball back and hit a foul line jumper. On the next play, Ellis missed from the outside and Ryan Anderson took the ball and hit a shot from the parking lot to bring the Lions within five. On the next trip up, Johnson fouled Peter-McNeilly, and Adika was able to hit both free throws to slow the bleeding for the Stingers. However, Dorian Pinson hit a three on Niagara’s next possession, bringing the Lions within four. The Stingers sloppy late play continued, as though the team managed to get the ball back, Deondre Parks lost control of the ball and sent it out of bounds. With the Lions’ receiving possession, the team took a timeout down 103-99 with 39.2 seconds remaining.
Ryan Anderson missed a three-pointer immediately out of the timeout, and the rebound was collected by Akeem Ellis. He managed to get the ball to Travis Daniels, who was fouled by Alex Johnson. Daniels, fortunately, made both free throws, extending Edmonton’s lead to six. Another missed three-pointer by Anderson left the River Lions grasping at straws late, and though Niagra picked up the rebound, an errant pass gave both the ball and the game to the Stingers.
The Stingers had seven players in double figures, with Travis Daniels leading the way with 20 points and 7 rebounds. Adika Peter-McNeilly wasn’t far behind with 17 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. Ryan Anderson lead the River Lions with 21 points, while guard Alex Johnson had 20 points and 7 assists.
STINGERS 105, RIVER LIONS 99
This game had a different vibe and feel from the start. It appeared that the Stingers were more focused and determined than they have been at any time this season. With the Stingers leading the rebound game 27-15 at the half, as well as points in the paint (24-16) and second-chance points (10-5), this game should have been in the bag. However, it seems the Stingers lost focus after the Glaze ejection, like everyone was trying to make up for the loss of Glaze all at once. Don’t sell the Riverlions short, however - they are a first-place team for a reason. The Stingers gave them a spark, and they definitely took it. Credit where credit is due. The Stingers are 2-0 under their new Head Coach, and hopefully, they can carry that momentum into tonight’s game against Hamilton.
Quotes of the Night:
“I talked to our guys about how we need to balance our scoring attack. From inside, to outside, to the free throw line, we wanted to score in all ways. We have an equal opportunity of offence, and the guys are ready to make shots when the opportunity arises for them” - Stingers Head Coach/General Manager Jermaine Small talking about seven players being in double-figures tonight.
“I wasn’t here for the first game, but my teammates told me this was a bit of a revenge game. I was in their shoes today.” – Forward Travis Daniels on the Stingers wanting to avenge the 20 point loss in Niagra the last time these two teams met.
“Oh for sure. With Jordan and Brody not here, with them being leaders and home-town favourites. I want to make sure we get them some victories while they are gone. And when they come back we are just going to keep on rolling.” – Forward Akeem Ellis on the need to step up with the absence of Jordan Baker and Brody Clarke.
The Stingers have a huge next seven days. Last week was their last Friday night home game of the regular season, as the home games shift to Thursdays from this point forward. Tonight, the Stingers look for a little fourth of July fireworks against the Hamilton Honeybadgers. The Stingers are looking to avenge their only home loss this season to the Badgers 90-87 two weeks ago. Tip-off from the Hive will be at 7 pm. Visit thestingers.ca for more information or to purchase tickets.
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