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Alliance hold on for win to snap Shooting Stars’ win streak

Jordan Bowden Montreal Alliance Jordan Bowden - CEBL

The Montréal Alliance (3-5) got back in the win column on Sunday by shutting down the East-leading Shooting Stars’ (4-3) fourth quarter rally and snapping Scarborough’s four-game win streak with a 93-86 decision.

Jordan Bowden and Chris Smith led the way as the pair put up 24 points each on better than 50 per cent shooting from the field and distance. Meanwhile Ahmed Hill chipped in with 14 points while Freddy Ibrahim added a season-high 11 points off the bench.

On the other side, the Shooting Stars were led by Jackson Rowe’s 19 points, four rebounds and three assists in their first loss since May 26. He was helped by Tevian Jones’ 18 points with four made threes, Donovan Williams’ 15 points and six assists and Kadre Gray’s 14 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Ahead of tip-off, Montreal head coach Derrick Alston Sr. talked about his team’s slow start and a desire for them to figure out an “identity” to turn things around. A strength, either on offence or defence to hang their hat on.

And with their backs against the wall after Scarborough had turned a 10-point deficit into a one-point lead thanks to an 8-0 run to open the fourth quarter, Montréal might’ve found their winning formula.

It began with defence, an aspect Alston lamented about pregame often being a symptom of how their offence looks.

“When we’re not doing well offensively our defence starts to crack,” the bench boss said. “Everyone does their job and we’ll be okay.”

The Alliance finished the game shooting 50 per cent from the field and 52 per cent from beyond the arc, so their defence had no reason to feel extra pressure and it showed. Montréal locked in, forcing four turnovers from the Shooting Stars after a Rowe dunk had put Scarborough up at the 8:17 mark, while limiting the defending champs to just three made baskets the rest of the quarter.

It wasn’t just in the final frame or Target Score Time, however, the Alliance stifled the Shooting Stars for the better part of 40 minutes on Sunday. Holding the league’s top three-point shooting team to 13 makes on a 35 per cent clip, both below their average makes and conversion rate.

“Going into the game we just wanted to be aggressive,” Bowden said post-game after his first start of the season. “I just tried to pick it up on the defensive end … deflections and getting in transition gets me going.”

And when it came time to hold off one final push from Scarborough, after a Jones triple cut it back down to 85-84 in Target Score Time, Montréal went back to what it does best. The Championship Weekend hosts put their heads down and beelined for the basket.

Montréal entered the game leading the CEBL in two-point percentage (54.8) and showed why down the stretch.

All their points in the stoppage period came in the paint or from the charity stripe, with Smith leading the way with five of their nine points. On the final play, the forward received a pass from Ibrahim right under the basket that caught the Shooting Stars’ defence sleeping and he dropped it in to cap off a CEBL career-high scoring night.

It was as complete of a game as Montréal had played all season. Scoring over 90 points for just the third time on percentages well above their usual and doing it by getting to the rim (18-for-36) and the free throw line (24-of-30). They also limited the CEBL’s top scoring team (95.7 points per game) to well below their usual production.

For the Shooting Stars, the loss was a combination of their “live by the three, die by the three” style letting them down and a lack of defensive execution. Aside from triples not falling at a usual rate, Scarborough showed little discipline on the other end, fouling Montréal 20 times (+4) for a total of 30 (+9) free throw attempts. It resulted in the Alliance to score the most points the Shooting Stars have given up in the month of June.

So as far as identity building wins go, fans at Verdun Auditorium could hardly ask for much more. It’ll be on the Alliance to carry the momentum from the Father’s Day win into the rest of their games.

“There’s a lot of great things that happen when we lock in and play a certain way,” Alston Sr. said reflecting on the win. “We stress it every game and I knew we’d react today.”

Up Next

The Shooting Stars look to bounce back in Niagara on Wednesday as they take on the River Lions in an East- rivalry rematch.

Meanwhile, the Alliance look to start their first win streak of the season on Wednesday as they visit the Brampton Honey Badgers.