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Honey Badgers keep rolling with rout of Bandits

Vancouver Bandits vs. Brampton Honey Badgers Vancouver Bandits vs. Brampton Honey Badgers - CEBL

Christian Vital’s 27 points led the Brampton Honey Badgers (4-2) to their fourth win in a row, 98-74 over the Vancouver Bandits (1-4) on Friday night in CEBL action.

Vital notched his third 20-point game of the season, also grabbing six rebounds and six steals. His six takeaways tied his own franchise record for most steals in a single game.

The guard was helped by his backcourt partner Koby McEwen who scored 20 points of his own to go with five rebounds and eight assists. Forwards Nick Wiggins and Prince Oduro had impactful games off the bench with Wiggins scoring 13 points and Oduro notching a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.

“The team has embraced him as part of Badgers basketball,” said Brampton head coach Antoine Broxsie following Wiggins’ season-high in points. “It was good to watch him get his legs under him…I know he’s going to continue to get better and better.”

On Vancouver’s side, in his debut with the club M.J. Walker led the Bandits with 26 points on an efficient 61 per cent shooting, knocking down four threes in the process. Nick Ward was the team’s next highest scorer, tallying 21 points off the bench on 9-of-11 shooting and six rebounds.

This game started off with some sloppy basketball as both teams combined for seven turnovers within the first six minutes, keeping things fairly even on the scoreboard. It was in the final four minutes of the frame that the Bandits found their rhythm offensively, going on a 13-3 run to put them up by six points. Walker did most of that damage as the NBA-experienced forward scored 11 of his team’s 19 points heading into the second.

That lead quickly evaporated as the Honey Badgers started the frame strong, outscoring the Bandits 13-4 in the process, largely due to the play of Vital. He scored seven points within the first three minutes of the quarter, giving his team a 32-29 lead at the 6:54 mark.

Normally this would be where Vancouver let Brampton build a significant lead, a tendency of theirs in their first four games as they’ve held a lead to end a quarter just three times all season. However, Walker wasn’t part of those performances and clearly didn’t get the memo. The guard notched another eight points to help keep things close for the Bandits as they trailed 44-42 at half-time.

His game-high 19 points at the break were even more impressive considering he missed just one shot, going 5-6 from the field while knocking down three triples.

The third quarter was as tightly contested as the first half was, with neither team building a significant lead. A contributing factor was some poor shooting from beyond the arch by both teams. Brampton and Vancouver were both shooting sub-30 per cent from distance through three quarters, with neither hitting double-digits. The Honey Badgers made just one three in the third, but it was vital (pardon the pun) as Vital hit a side-step triple at the buzzer to give his team a 65-59 lead with one quarter to go.

The fourth quarter began with a Prince Oduro 4-0 run to give the Honey Badgers their first double-digit lead of the game, both his baskets coming in the paint. As the frame went on, Brampton continued scoring inside and applying as much pressure as they could on Vancouver’s defence. The team scored 20 points at the basket in the first six minutes of the frame, while getting the Bandit’s into some foul trouble in the process.

“My message has always been don’t get bored with success,” said coach Broxsie on his team’s mentality going into the fourth. “If they’re going to keep giving us the lane, we’re going to keep taking the lane.”

“I’m going to keep stressing paint touches from the start of the game, to the end of the game, to after the game…that’s one of the things I will always stress…continuing to play the right way.”

Five players on Vancouver had four fouls as the team trailed 88-72 heading into Target Score Time. The final frame ended rather quickly as the Bandits managed just two points while the Honey Badgers capped things off on a 6-0 run, McEwen ending things with a layup to make it 98-74 the final.

The Honey Badgers will now get five days rest before hitting the road to take on the Winnipeg Sea Bears next Thursday. Vancouver will have no time to dwell on this loss as they’ll be back in action tomorrow night as they’ll visit the Niagara River Lions.