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Surge silence Stingers who struggle to franchise-low point total

Davion Warren Edmonton Stingers Davion Warren - Getty Images

The Edmonton Stingers’ playoff spot will have to wait.

Calgary crashed its Alberta rival’s party on Tuesday at the Edmonton Expo Centre, racing to an 87-58 victory and holding the Stingers to a franchise-low point total in the process.

The Surge moved back to .500, improving to 7-7 with the win. The Stingers dropped to 11-5 with the loss.

Calgary also snapped a two-game losing skid as it looks to cement its own playoff status in a loaded Western Conference, where it currently sits fourth.

“I don’t think 58 points is gonna be every night, but that’s what we gotta strive for is our energy and our fly-around,” Surge head coach Tyrell Vernon said of his team’s stifling defensive effort. “And when we’re all locked in to holding each other accountable to that level of body movement and communication, we can be very good.”

Edmonton entered the contest with a league-leading 92.4 points per game. Previously, its lowest scoring output all-time was 62 points, set in 2019 before the CEBL introduced the target-score ending.

Going the entirety of Tuesday’s Target Score Time without a point only put an exclamation mark on the lack of offence.

“We didn’t come to play,” Stingers head coach Jordan Baker said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily opponent-based, it’s just a matter of we didn’t have the right intensity tonight. It could have been against anybody in the league, and anybody’s gonna be able to beat anybody on a given night if you give that kind of effort.”

It was a game of runs, with both teams seemingly responding every time the other pulled away.

Coming out of halftime, Calgary ripped off a 12-0 stretch to increase its lead to 20 points and threaten to put the game away well before Target Score Time.

But the Stingers came roaring back with a whopping 19-2 run of their own to cut their deficit to just three points.

Yet just when it seemed all momentum was in Edmonton’s favour, Calgary punched right back by outscoring the Stingers 11-3 to end the quarter and push its lead to 11 points entering the final frame.

“I think when we got in a hole, we started to go away from what we try to accomplish on offence,” Baker said. “They packed the lane pretty well and dared us to shoot from the outside and we struggled top to bottom, roster wise, hitting shots.”

The Surge, who opened the fourth by scoring 11 of the first 13 points to regain its 20-point advantage, eventually took an 78-58 lead into Target Score Time. 

It was another run that ended the game – 9-0 after the clock was shut off, punctuated by Stefan Smith’s game-winning three-pointer.

Centre Jordy Tshimanga was central to Calgary’s victory, leading the team with a 25-point, 13-rebound double-double on 11-for-13 shooting and adding tough interior protection on defence.

“Just exerting his dominance. He’s the biggest player on the floor and he showed it tonight,” Vernon said.

Davion Warren, who was leading the Stingers with 15 points per game entering Tuesday’s contest, was held without a point on 0-for-11 shooting.

“I think Calgary played good defence but I would also [say] it was an off-night,” said fellow Stingers guard Nick Hornsby, who led Edmonton with 18 points. “We have great shooters on the team and [if] shots aren’t falling, shots aren’t falling.”

The first quarter was played sloppily as the teams combined to make just three of 19 three-point attempts and shoot 33 per cent overall. After three fouls against Edmonton on the final play of the frame, Sean Miller-Moore broke free for an awkward one-legged corner triple that gave the Surge a 16-15 lead at the buzzer.

Calgary increased its lead to 37-29 at half as newcomer Kyler Edwards, who signed with the team on Tuesday morning, poured in 10 first-half points and grabbed three rebounds.

“Just phenomenal. I think Kyler being in his first game, coming in there with energy, kinda just like he’s been here with us the whole season,” Vernon said.

The Surge, who lost big men Justin Lewis and Gabe Osabuohien to NBA Summer League in addition to guard Trhae Mitchell, also added two-time CEBL champion Marlon Johnson Jr., along with Edwards.

Johnson Jr., was held without a point in almost 11 minutes of action.

Given the absences, Tshimanga said he knew he had to step up.

“Just be a force for my teammates. Lacking some size down there, so I had to come in there and fill the void for that,” he said.

Calgary’s win means the Battle of Alberta season series will end in a 2-2 tie, with every game won by the road team.

Edmonton natives Michelle and Katherine Plouffe, who are set to head to the Paris Olympics soon as part of Canada’s women’s 3x3 basketball team, took in the contest from courtside seats.

Up next

The Surge return home to face the Vancouver Bandits on Thursday, while the Stingers head east to battle the Scarborough Shooting Stars on Saturday.