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Honey Badgers snap seven-game losing skid with seesaw victory over Alliance

Jabs Newby Brampton Honey Badgers Jabs Newby (7) - CEBL

After the Brampton Honey Badgers dropped their seventh straight game on Sunday, guard Javonte Cooke called a team meeting.

Everybody was sick of losing, and it was time to do something.

And on Wednesday, in the team’s first game since that locker-room conversation, something clicked. The Honey Badgers snapped their skid, which had spanned about three weeks, with an 85-79 home victory over the Montreal Alliance at CAA Centre.

“Everybody’s gonna enjoy the win now. We definitely got the monkey off of our back. Everybody’s been asking us about it.” head coach Sheldon Cassimy said. “We’re a real family, we came together, we talked, hashed everything out that we needed to hash out and that’s how we were able to stick together throughout this and continue to stick together now.”

Brampton concludes its first half of the season the same way it started: with a victory. In fact, the Honey Badgers opened the season with two straight triumphs before their string of defeats.

The Honey Badgers improved to 3-7 with the win, while the Alliance fell to 3-6 with the loss as the standings in the Eastern Conference tightened even further.

But the losing streak didn’t end easily. The game featured a whopping 21 lead changes, with neither team able to build so much as a 10-point lead or gain any momentum until Target Score Time.

Honey Badgers forward Zane Waterman, who scored a game-high 28 points, credited the team meeting for the increased resiliency.

“Just the effort. That was the problem in our losing streak. I don’t think we had the fight we needed and we had a talk about that and we came together as a team and I think we really understand each other better now,” Waterman said. “I just wish we would have done it sooner.”

The Honey Badgers, who were minus-30 in Target Score Time entering Wednesday’s game, took charge with a 10-1 run to move within any sort of basket of their long-awaited victory. Greek forward Petros Melissaratos iced the game with a putback, capping a 12-4 run to end Brampton’s win.

Waterman added nine points in Target Score Time too.

“It feels great to get that demon off our back and get back on a winning streak – that’s the plan,” he said.

The game was contested tightly throughout, as evidenced by the scores of each quarter, with neither team able to win any 10-minute increment by more than four points.

Montreal led 21-20 after the first quarter and extended its lead to a game-high nine in the second, but the Honey Badgers responded to even the score at 39 apiece heading into halftime.

“We just wanted to really respond to adversity. … It was the same little thing right before [Target Score Time]. They went on a little run, took a three-point lead, we executed, brought the game back tied and we just kept executing. Not worried about what they do, we’re worried about our own stuff and when we do that we’re a pretty good basketball team,” Waterman said.

Swingman Shamiel Stevenson added 22 points and five rebounds for the Honey Badgers, including yet another poster dunk and a pair of prayer three-pointers that went down. Cooke added 13 points and six rebounds.

Alliance head coach Derrick Alston Sr., said he sensed desperation from his opponents.

“They needed a win. Usually teams that play a little more desperate usually comes out and, you know, we had plenty of opportunities to win but they made it tough for us and they took the game,” Alston Sr., said.

“I guess their players felt they needed it more than our players felt we needed the win, and they came out and showed it.”

Coming off a seven-point victory over the reigning champion Scarborough Shooting Stars, Alston Sr., charged his team with improving its consistency.

“You live with the results, but to come out and not play with the same type of energy and effort and desire that we did vs Scarborough as we did a few days ago, it’s a little disheartening,” he said.

Waterman, the Honey Badgers’ captain, surpassed 500 career CEBL points with his performance. He became the third player in franchise history to achieve the mark, following former teammates Koby McEwen and Christian Vital.

“It feels good. It feels better to get the win, but as far as 500 points is concerned, it took me a lot more games than it took Koby and CV, so I don’t know how good of an accomplishment that is,” Waterman joked. “But nah, it’s fun. It’s fun to follow these stats and stuff and hopefully it can lead to more wins.”

Cassimy called Waterman “the perfect professional.”

“He’s a good leader because he’s been around, he’s seen so many different things and he’s been with us, so he understands our organization, our culture and what we stand for, what we’re about. And so he’s been able to keep the team together especially throughout the losing streak.”

Chris Smith led the Alliance with 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but admitted his team had trouble matching the Honey Badgers’ energy.

“They were definitely hungry tonight. They were definitely playing like they wanted to end the streak. Those boys played hard. Super-duper hard.”

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action on Friday as the Honey Badgers head to Scarborough for a matchup with the Shooting Stars, while the Alliance continue their road trip with a stop in Niagara to face the River Lions.