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Stingers go wire-to-wire, fend off late Sea Bears rally in victory

Edmonton Stingers Celebrate Edmonton Stingers Celebrate - CEBL

A pair of double-doubles helped the Edmonton Stingers (6-2) hold off the Winnipeg Sea Bears (3-5) 97-87 on Sunday afternoon, marking their fourth victory at Canada Life Centre since the start of last season.

Nick Hornsby, who knocked down a free throw-line jumper in Target Score Time to seal the game, recorded 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Brody Clarke racked up a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds — five offensive — in a little over 21 minutes of action.

Both big men also shot better than 60 per cent from the field. And as a team, Edmonton had six players score in double figures in the 97-87 victory.

“We came out, executed the game plan and tried to make life difficult for their main guys,” said Edmonton head coach Jordan Baker after the game. “That was the key to our success as we got out to an early lead and hold on.”

As Edmonton fed the ball to multiple players, Winnipeg saw the bulk of their scoring fall on two people: Justin Wright-Foreman and Teddy Allen, who led all scorers with 39 points. Wright-Foreman, meanwhile, scored 22 points in his second game as a Sea Bear but committed seven turnovers.

“They are great scorers and they got some great role players with them,” Hornsby said. “We tried to shut them down, they did their jobs and scored. But with the other guys, we did our job knowing the scouting [report] and knowing what they’re good at.”

The rest of Winnipeg’s starting lineup combined for only four points, and the team’s next highest scorer, Emmanuel Akot, recorded seven points.

Clarke started the game like a man on mission, scoring five of his team’s first seven points including the opening three pointer. A few possessions later, a pump fake and drive to the hoop gave Edmonton an early 7-1 advantage. Wright-Foreman and Allen combined for eight of Winnipeg’s first 10 points, but a disparity on the glass started to become a problem for the Sea Bears.

Winnipeg, who gave up 221 points in their last two games on the road, gave up 29 points in the opening quarter and were outrebounded 12-5. The trend continued into the second quarter, which saw Edmonton extend their lead to double digits.

As a team, Edmonton shot 80 per cent inside the arch in the half, and nearly had as many offensive rebounds (7) as Winnipeg had total rebounds (8) at one point in the second quarter. Davion Warren, who finished with 13 points and five rebounds, extended the lead to 11 with layups on consecutive possessions in the first few minutes of the second quarter. 

Ultimately, Edmonton beat Winnipeg 47-34 on the glass and scored nine more second chance points. The Stingers also outscored the Sea Bears 58-34 in the paint.

“[Coach] Baker was just being on us getting to the boards,” Hornsby said. “He challenges a couple of us and a lot of the guards to get rebounds.”

Mason Bourcier provided a spark on the defence off the bench. The 6-foot-4 guard hauled in a couple of rebounds and forced an Edmonton turnover early in the quarter with active hands on defence.

“If you told my younger self I’d be playing with a Justin Wright-Foreman and Teddy Allen, he’d be, ‘shoot, I don’t even need to touch the ball.’ That’s what he’d be saying,” Bourcier said. “I don’t have a 6’8” wing span, it’s pure heart, I’ve watched enough film to see angles, and it comes down to intention.”

But anytime the Sea Bears tried to claw back in the game, the Stingers responded.

A backdoor cut from Clarke later in the frame extended Edmonton’s lead to 20. As Wright-Foreman struggled to find his footing in his first home game as a Sea Bear — shooting 2-7 from the field with five turnovers in the first half — Allen knocked down a pair of triples on back to back possessions to make it a 54-41 game, bringing bring the crowd of roughly 9,000 fans to their feet for the first time. Allen had 19 points at the break.

But with less than a minute left, poor defensive communication on an inbound play led to an open Warren at the top of the arch, who knocked down a three to help Edmonton take a 59-41 lead at the half.

The Stingers started the second half slow, committing three personal fouls and three turnovers within the first four minutes. Winnipeg, however, couldn’t capitalize on the offensive end, converting two field goals — an Allen three and layup — in five minutes.

Clarke continued to be a big presence in the paint. The Toronto native hauled in three offensive boards on two Edmonton possessions — sandwiched between a strong defensive stop that led to a Wright-Foreman missed three pointer with the shot clock running out.

After falling behind by as many as 21 points, Winnipeg went on a 6-0 run to end the third. And minutes before Target Score Time, slick ball movement led to an open Bourcier three pointer that cut the lead to 11. One again, though, the Stingers responded with a Mindaugas Kačinas and-one jumper on a set play out of an inbound. Edmonton then took an 88-75 lead into Target Score Time.

With the game clock turned off, Winnipeg got to within 10 points of the lead, but the Stingers responded with a quick 5-2 run before Hornsby nailed the clinching bucket.

“We were getting good looks and being confident in myself and my ability. Knowing my team trusts me, I felt like I was playing pretty well, it’s a good shot for me, and I took the shot,” Hornsby said.

The Sea Bears will look to snap a four-game losing streak in a Wednesday night showdown against the Vancouver Bandits on TSN. Edmonton, who moves to within one game of the Bandits for first place in the Western Conference, will return home for a date against the Ottawa BlackJacks on Thursday.