A clutch three and a high-flying block from Christian Vital allowed the Brampton Honey Badgers to defeat the Winnipeg Sea Bears 75-71 and secure their first win of the season at the CAA Centre on Thursday night (June 1).

The Honey Badgers trailed since the second quarter but came back with a 13-5 run in target score time to emerge victorious. After a busy week at the Utah Jazz mini-camp, Vital returned with a team-high 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block.

Brampton big man Jeremiah Tilmon also had a strong performance in the win with 15 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Zane Waterman and Cody John were both clutch for the Honey Badgers, scoring over half of their points in the fourth quarter. Waterman netted 15 points, while John had 10 points that included the game-winning free throws.

“It was a group effort,” Vital said. “I didn’t win this game, [McEwen] didn’t win this game, [Tilmon] didn’t win this game—we won this game and I think that makes it that much better.”

Winnipeg’s Teddy Allen scored a game-high 18 points but struggled again from the floor. Allen shot 7-24 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, EJ Anosike and Jaylen Watson-Gayle also contributed to the Sea Bears' offence with 15 points and 12 points respectively.

In a defensive battle, Winnipeg shot just 30 per cent from the field while Brampton shot 37 per cent. Additionally, neither team shot over 25 per cent from three.

“I was really pleased with our team’s defensive effort,” Sea Bears’ head coach Mike Taylor said. “I think it was more our team’s inability to finish some plays and we had some costly turnovers on the offensive side.”

Both teams traded blows to start the game with seven lead changes in the first quarter. A Tilmon and-one got the Honey Badgers started on an 11-1 run that gave them a nine-point lead. However, the Sea Bears closed the quarter strong with a three from Simon Hildebrandt and a strong take from Allen.

In the second quarter, Watson-Gayle came off the bench to score seven quick points including a triple to open the scoring. AJ Hess took the lead for Winnipeg and the Sea Bears held on for the rest of the quarter, taking a 38-34 advantage into the locker room.

Both teams shot below 38 per cent in a defensive first half but Winnipeg connected on six threes at a 40 per cent rate. The Sea Bears and Honey Badgers were even on the glass in the opening 20 minutes with 23 rebounds each.

The Sea Bears maintained their edge over the Honey Badgers in a tightly-contested third quarter. Each team got to the free-throw line at a high volume in the third and shot at a higher percentage overall than in the first half. Late in the quarter, Allen lost a defender in the short corner and drained a stepback jumper. But McEwen answered with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 58-53 heading into the fourth.

Offence was hard to come by early in the fourth quarter but a long-range jumper from Watson-Gayle and free throws from Anosike extended Winnipeg’s lead to nine. However, a pair of layups before the final stretch from John cut the Sea Bears’ lead down to four with the target score set at 75.

Brampton carried the momentum into target score time with McEwen opening the scoring at the charity stripe. Moments later, Waterman finished the hoop and the harm to cut the deficit to one before he connected on a triple to give the Honey Badgers their first lead of the half. Watson-Gayle buried a three to regain the lead for Winnipeg in reply. However, Vital drilled a clutch three on offence and came up with a gigantic block on defence to put Brampton in a position to win. John was fouled in transition and ended the game at the line.

The Honey Badgers improve to 1-2 on the season while the Sea Bears drop to 1-1. Up next for Winnipeg is a matchup with Scarborough at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at 8 p.m. ET on Friday. Meanwhile, Brampton travels to Montreal to take on the red-hot Alliance at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.