bY Matthew Winick - August 5, 2021
The Guelph Nighthawks (4-9) used a 56-37 second half spurt to knock off the Ottawa BlackJacks (4-8) by a score of 96-71 at TD Place in Ottawa on Wednesday night. With the victory, the Nighthawks come within half a game of the BlackJacks for the fifth seed in the CEBL standings.
The game was tied after the first quarter, and Guelph built a slim six-point lead at the half, but then used a major push in the third to pull away from the BlackJacks. The offense and defense were both clicking for the Nighthawks, drilling 14 three-pointers while also forcing 15 Ottawa turnovers.
“I was impressed on both ends. I though we moved the ball well,”
said Nighthawks’ head coach Charles Kissi after the game,
“We had a few lapses defensively, but we didn’t let them compound, so that was good for us.”
Surprisingly, the Nighthawks made their run after leading scorer and team captain Cat Barber left the game due to injury. Fellow import guard Michael Bryson picked up the slack offensively, finishing with a game-high 25 points while adding eight rebounds.
Veteran forward Olu Famutimi also made a huge difference offensively for Guelph. The 37-year-old exploded for 20 second-half points to finish with 22 on the night, including a sparkling 6-8 from beyond the arc. While Wednesday’s game was just Famutimi’s fifth of the season, he seemed to have found his grove at the perfect time.
“My teammates and coaches have put me in a great position to score,”
“I knew I’d get my shots as long as we moved the ball.”
“Olu is back, it took a little bit for him to get his legs under him, he’s a little old,”
“That’s what he’s done for 18 years, it’s why he’s played so long professionally. Yeah, he was impressive, but that’s Olu.”
The loss for Ottawa was far from the team’s best performance of the season. None of the BlackJacks were able to find their strides offensively with no player making more than five field goals, and the defensive effort was subpar against the CEBL’s second-lowest scoring team in the Nighthawks.
“We just didn’t play hard enough,” s
aid BlackJacks’ head coach Charles Dubé-Brais,
“Sometimes when a team is without a few key members like (the Nighthawks) were, that was the worst thing that could have happened to us, because I think it played into our psyche.”
Tyrell Green led the BlackJacks in scoring with 15 points while guard Kadre Gray put together a solid all-around stat line with 10 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Bench scoring was hard to come by for Ottawa, with its five reserves combining to score just 14 points.
Despite the disappointing defeat from Ottawa, the objective is simple. Beat Guelph in Friday’s rematch and clinch the five seed in the CEBL standings, with a very small chance of surpassing the Fraser Valley Bandits for the four seed and the chance to host a quarterfinal game. Before that happens though, the team will have to regroup after Wednesday’s performance.
Meanwhile, Guelph will look to use the momentum from Wednesday’s victory to knock off the BlackJacks once again on Friday and lay claim to that fifth seed. Friday’s crucial game will be played at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph at 7:00 p.m. ET.
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