By Justine Jones - July 28, 2021
Lindell Wigginton scored 17 second-half points, including the Elam Ending winner to secure a 80-78, come from behind victory for the Hamilton Honey Badgers (9-3) over the Guelph Nighthawks (2-8) on Tuesday night at the Sleeman Centre.
With the win, Hamilton sweeps the season series 4-0 against the Nighthawks and remain a perfect 9-0 against Guelph all-time. The Honey Badgers also move three games up on the Niagara River Lions for second place in the CEBL standings. Finishing as the top seed in the regular season is critical to receive an automatic bye into the semifinals at CEBL Championship Weekend along with hosts, Edmonton Stingers.
Guelph led right from the first whistle through four quarters before a back-and-forth Elam Ending led to an exciting finish.
The Honey Badgers got off to a slow start and found themselves down early on. Hamilton, a team that has made the most three-pointers in the CEBL up to this point (118 total), struggled from beyond the arc making just 12 per cent of its three-point field goal attempts in the first half.
“We needed a win like that,”
said head coach Ryan Schmidt.
“Earlier in the game I was getting déjà vu of the Edmonton game where it can unravel quickly. But you saw the growth and maturity in this game. At this point in the season, we’ve got to turn a corner.”
Although Wigginton’s shot sealed the victory for the Honey Badgers, Hamilton’s bench kept the team in the game and gave them a chance to win. Cody John did not start tonight’s contest, but the six-foot-three guard checked in less than two minutes into the game and made an immediate impact. John scored nine of Hamilton’s first 13 points and led the charge for the Honey Badgers bench that outscored Guelph 46-17. The former Weber State Wildcat was the team’s leading scorer and finished with 24 points and six rebounds.
“Our bench gave us a big spark and we give all the credit to them today,”
said Lindell Wigginton.
Wigginton did his damage in the second half and began to heat up in the third quarter when he made three-pointers on back-to-back possessions. Despite the slow start, the CEBL’s leading scorer was clutch down the stretch and sealed the victory for his team.
“I told Lindell, in my opinion, that was probably your best game of the season,” said Schmidt. “It wasn’t easy from the first quarter through to the third, but the kid just kept finding ways to impact winning and to me, that’s what a lot of people need to recognize about him, he’s not just a talented player but he impacts winning.”
Guelph got out to a hot start, beginning the game on an 8-2 run and forcing Honey Badgers coach Ryan Schmidt to call an early timeout. Twelve of the Nighthawks’ first 16 points came in the paint as Cat Barber was his usual self, changing speeds to beat defenders and finish at the rim. Barber led all scorers through two quarters with 18 points and finished with 23 points and six rebounds. Hill produced the bulk of his points from beyond the arc, draining six three-pointers and finishing with 24 points. This backcourt duo combined for 47 of Guelph’s 78 points.
The Nighthawks defence was strong throughout the game and gave the team a solid chance to win the game. Guelph held Hamilton’s starting lineup to just 13 points through the first two quarters and kept the CEBL’s leading scorer Lindell Wigginton to just three points in the first-half.
Michael Bryson made his Nighthawks debut tonight and contributed 13 points off the bench. The former Delaware Blue Goat registered a key three-pointer to halt a Hamilton run in the fourth quarter and also took contact and finished a three-point play to extend the Nighthawks lead just prior to the Elam Ending.
The Guelph Nighthawks (2-8) will travel to the Meridian Centre to take on the Niagara River Lions (6-3) on Friday July 30 at 7:00 p.m. ET. Guelph continues to battle it out with the Saskatchewan Rattlers (1-10) for the sixth and final playoff spot.
Hamilton’s (9-3) next opponent is also the River Lions, with the two teams set to meet on August 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET at the Meridian Centre.
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.
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.