In a rematch of the 2022 Championship Weekend finals, the Brampton Honey Badgers (-188) host the Scarborough Shooting Stars (+135) from the CAA Centre at 8:00 pm ET in Wednesday night CEBL action.
The game will be nationally televised live on TSN 5 for TSN’s CEBL game of the week and will also be available for streaming on TSN+.
This’ll be the third of four regular season matchups between last year’s finalists, with the two squads set to face-off in back-to-back games. Brampton could punch their ticket to the post-season with a victory tonight, and if they’re going to, they’ll need to find a way to respond to a Scarborough team that currently leads 2-0 in the season series.
Fans of the team should hope for a big performance from Christian Vital as a potential answer for the Honey Badgers struggles against their Eastern Conference rival. The team’s leading scorer played in their first game against Scarborough and caused all kinds of issues as he put up 36 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. Vital led the team in all three categories that night as he helped Brampton erase a double-digit deficit despite taking a narrow 80-78 loss.
In the second game where Vital didn’t play, the Honey Badgers struggled mightily on the offensive end. The team shot 39 per cent from the field, taking a 93-73 loss, and their top scorer in the game put up just 15 points. More than his scoring, the guard’s presence handling the ball was missed as without him the team committed 23 turnovers. As one of the leaders of the team, Vital will likely be looked upon in this game to help sure up some of those lapses that cost the Honey Badgers last time.
A good place to start is by trying to build off their latest victory against the Montréal Alliance this past Sunday. Brampton took a convincing win, not only bringing them back into the win column, but also propelling them over Montréal in the Eastern Conference standings.
The 89-69 victory brought the Honey Badgers back into a play-in position as the regular season nears its conclusion, and it was mostly thanks to their defense. Despite ranking in the bottom-half of the league in terms of defensive efficiency (85.5 OPPG), they held the Alliance to their third-lowest scoring game of the year.
Montréal shot 33 per cent from the field and 28 per cent from distance as Brampton forced 17 turnovers along the way. Ending the game +9 on points off takeways, most of those opportunities came as a result of their nine steals. It was Vital who led the way as he grabbed five steals on his own, pairing with his team-leading 27 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
The guard is currently second in the league when it comes to steals per game (2.4 STPG), an attribute he’ll hope to make the most of against a Scarborough team that remains one of the most disciplined in the CEBL, committing just 13.1 turnovers on average.
Speaking of the Shooting Stars, they’re currently the hottest team in the league, coming into the night riding a three-game win streak. Their latest victory also came against the Alliance as they took care of business in the 103-93 final, and clinched their spot in the playoffs as a result.
Scarborough’s catalyst for victory was the stellar play of Kassius Robertson. The guard put up a season-high 27 points, doing most of his damage from beyond the arch as he knocked down seven triples on a 58 per cent clip. He led a Shooting Stars team that drained 12 three-balls on the night. During their win streak, an uptick in scoring from distance has seemed to play a noticeable role.
In their three consecutive victories, Scarborough has made an average of 11 threes a game, three more than usual, and converted at a 38 per cent rate versus their season mark of 31 per cent. Heading into the post-season seems like an opportune time to get into a hot-shooting streak, and fans of the Shooting Stars will hope they can keep it up moving forward.
Another player to keep an eye on for Scarborough is Cat Barber. The squad’s scoring leader has found success in their two victories against Brampton, averaging 23 points and six assists against the defending champions this year. He’s also been on a clutch streak as of late, hitting two game-winners in the Shooting Stars last three victories. Those weren’t his only game-ending shots, as he also hit the dagger against Brampton in their blowout victory, so it goes without saying, don’t be surprised if the ball is in hands a lot as this game winds down.
In terms of playoff implications, with Scarborough having clinched a spot in the post-season they’re mostly looking to nail down what position they’ll be in. Currently the third seed in the East, a win would put the Shooting Stars into a tie with Niagara for second, while holding the edge in terms of games remaining to try and leap over the River Lions at the end.
There’s much more at stake for the Honey Badgers as a win would mean clinching the fourth and final playoff spot in the conference. Currently one game ahead of the Alliance, a victory against the Shooting Stars would secure their spot and essentially eliminate Montréal from playoff contention.
Full conference standings can be found here.