For Immediate Release - July 12, 2021
By Justine Jones
Cat Barber scored 20 of his 24 points in the second half and propelled the Guelph Nighthawks (1-4) to their first victory of the season with a 90-87 win over the Ottawa BlackJacks (2-5).
The game was a high-flying affair, with both teams pushing the pace early. This generated many opportunities in transition for both sides, and made for an exciting back-and-forth game from the first whistle right to the last basket.
Guelph’s point production came from down low in the first half, as the team outscored Ottawa 24-12 in the paint. Chad Brown was active on offence, coming out of the pick and roll, attacking the basket and finishing a pair of lobs with dunks. Brown finished with a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds) on the night. Kimbal Mackenzie finished with 11 points and was impactful on both the offensive and defensive ends. The six-foot-one guard took a charge and made jumpers in the half-court as well as in transition.
Cat Barber came alive in the second half for the Nighthawks, scoring 20 of his 24 points from the third quarter onwards. The former College Park Skyhawk registered back-to-back three-point plays to end the third quarter and to begin the final frame, and was efficient as always from mid-range.
Although the Nighthawks trailed by three points heading into the Elam Ending, an early three-pointer by TJ Lall tied the game at 81 while three solid defensive stops helped the Nighthawks secure their first victory of the season. Lall made his first start of the year and was voted Player of the Game, tallying 10 points and seven rebounds on the night.
“He told me just before warmup that I was starting, and I wasn’t really nervous, I was just excited for the opportunity,”
“I’m a defender, I’m a long wing-player that can guard multiple positions and shoot from anywhere.”
In addition to getting the win, another bright spot for Guelph this game was a more balanced offensive attack. In the Nighthawks last game, their “big three”, G-League players Barber, Ahmed Hill, and Canadian Justin Jackson scored 56 of the team’s 76 points. Justin Jackson did not play in tonight’s contest against Ottawa, yet Guelph still had five players who scored in double-digits tonight.
“We’ve been making a conscious effort to spread the ball. Everyone knows Cat can score and sometimes we defer and rely on him and become a little stagnant, but we knew we would come back to him down the stretch,”
said head coach Charles Kissi.
“We had some possessions though where we just said we don’t shoot the ball until everyone touches it, nothing fancy but sometimes you just need people to get the ball, touch it and be part of it.”
Ottawa was aggressive in attacking the basket and this allowed the BlackJacks to get to the free throw line 17 times in the first half alone. Alain Louis led the charge for Ottawa, driving into the lane and drawing fouls on numerous occasions. At one point the Carleton Ravens guard took contact from the Guelph defender and finished at the rim for a three-point play. Louis’ teammate Nick Ward finished with a double-double (20 points, 13 rebounds) and was physical in the low post.
The BlackJacks started the second half strong from beyond the arc with Kadre Gray, Dominique Archie, and the aforementioned Louis all draining three-pointers within the first four minutes of the third quarter. Gray was also key on the defensive end for the BlackJacks, taking a charge to help build momentum for his team. Ottawa extended its lead to as many as 10 points at one part of the third quarter, but some scoring lapses in the Elam Ending against a strong Nighthawks zone defence led to the loss.
“Offensively we couldn’t find the right solutions and execute properly, when we did we got some pretty decent shots but the overall execution wasn’t consistent enough possession after possession,”
said head coach Charles Dubé-Brais.
“I’ll take it on myself, maybe we weren’t ready enough to play against the zone they played aggressively and we have to get back to the drawing board and study the film to get better for the next game.”
Ottawa (2-5) will return home to TD Place on July 17, where it will host the CEBL Champion Edmonton Stingers (5-0) at 4:00 p.m. ET. Earlier this week it was announced that all four Ontario CEBL franchises will be able to have fans in attendance beginning July 17. BlackJack fans can buy tickets at www.theblackjacks.ca beginning July 13 at 10 a.m. ET.
Guelph (1-4) will travel to Fraser Valley next to take on the Bandits (4-2) on July 14 at 10:00 p.m. ET /7:00 p.m. local time. Fans will also be welcomed to the Abbotsford Centre for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, and tickets are on sale now at ticketmaster.ca.
All CEBL games will be available for live streaming on the CEBL’s new OTT streaming service, CEBL+, cbcsports.ca, the free CBC Gem streaming service, the CBC Sports App for iOS and android devices, and on Twitch.
About the CEBL - A league created by Canadians for Canadians, the CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country, with 75 percent of its current rosters being Canadians. Players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, top international leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA programs as well as U SPORTS. The only First Division Professional League Partner of Canada Basketball, the CEBL season typically runs from May through August. Head to CEBL.ca for more information or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook & YouTube.