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Bandits cruise to win over Rattlers in franchise’s 100th game

James Karnik Vancouver Bandits James Karnik (L) - CEBL

The Vancouver Bandits celebrated the franchise’s 100th game all-time by picking up an emphatic 99-70 home win over the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Sunday.

Koby McEwen led the festivities with 30 points, six rebounds and two steals. His game-high scoring performance also capped off a milestone night as the CEBL veteran surpassed 750 points (regular season only) – moving him up to ninth all-time.

Helping McEwen and the Bandits jump back into the win column was Tazé Moore who finished with a stat-stuffing double-double (18 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks) and Nick Ward who finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.

Meanwhile, the Rattlers couldn’t avoid a seventh consecutive defeat – tying the Brampton Honey Badgers for the longest losing skid of any team this season. Cody John led the team in scoring as he finished with 17 points and two steals. Emmauel Bandoumel and Teddy Allen were Saskatchewan’s only other double-digit scorers on the night as they chipped in 14 points apiece.

Both teams came into the game needing to prove they could bounce back defensively after letting their previous opponents shoot better than 50 per cent from the field and distance en route to losses. And through the first 10 minutes of action, that point of emphasis was evident as Saskatchewan and Vancouver appeared locked in on the defensive end.

Neither team shot over 40 per cent from the field, combining to make just 14 baskets through the first quarter. Once the dust settled it was the Bandits -- thanks to a Glen Yang transition layup in the dying seconds of the frame – who led 23-20.

But once the second quarter got underway only Vancouver could sustain the defensive pressure as they shut the taps on whatever offence Saskatchewan mustered early on. The Rattlers made just four baskets in the second quarter and finished the half having shot 28 per cent from the field.

“We were more connected,” Vancouver head coach Kyle Julius said after the win when asked about the biggest differences defensively between this game and their last performance. “So we have to build off that.”

The Bandits defensive dominance acted as a catalyst for a 14-2 run, holding the Rattlers to one basket through a four-minute span at one point in the frame while subsequently earning themselves a 49-31 halftime lead.

McEwen and Ward led all players with 12 and 11 points respectively through the first half – the only double-digit scorers after 20 minutes of play.

“They did a great job of picking up the defensive intensity,” Rattlers assistant coach Eric Magdanz said postgame when asked what cost them in the second quarter. “We had too many turnovers, it lead to easy points for them … defence leads to offence, that was our major struggle.”

Saskatchewan did show some fight after the break, going on a 9-0 run at one point in the third, as they cut a once 25-point lead down to 15 headed into the fourth quarter. Much of the Rattlers comeback effort was thanks to John as he scored nine points in the frame.

That was as close as Saskatchewan would come, however, as Vancouver used a 12-0 run to build their lead back over 20 points.

And if facing a 90-66 deficit to start Target Score Time wasn’t difficult enough for the Rattlers, they had to do it without starters Allen and Makuoi who fouled out midway through the fourth quarter.

Vancouver quickly took care of business from there as McEwen hit a pair of triples before Ward capped off the win at the charity stripe.

The Bandits have come a long way as one of the CEBL’s original franchises back in 2019. From winning just four games in their inaugural season to now celebrating their 100th game by picking up a 29-point victory that gives them a share of first place in the Western Conference.