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Defending champion Honey Badgers host top-ranked Surge

Koby McEwen Brampton Honey Badgers Koby McEwen - CEBL

The CEBL’s reigning champions will meet with the top team in the 2023 standings on Wednesday night in a prestige matchup between the Brampton Honey Badgers and Calgary Surge at CAA Centre at 7 p.m. ET. 

The game will be available for streaming LIVE in a limited-time free preview on TSN+.

The Surge enter the contest with the best record in the league at 6-3 as they begin a three-game road trip with subsequent stops in Niagara and Vancouver later in the week. Calgary sits atop the Western Conference standings with Winnipeg close behind at 5-3.

The Surge proved their worth against the Sea Bears in a 97-81 win on Sunday (June 18), giving them the advantage in the standings. Calgary bounced back from two consecutive losses, powered by a 22-point performance from Trevon Scott.

Scott led a Calgary starting lineup that has been a consistent force through almost half of the season. Simi Shittu, Admon Gilder Jr. and Sean Miller-Moore have started every game so far for the Surge, while guard Stefan Smith started the first seven before missing back-to-back games.

Miller-Moore leads the team with 16 points per game on 53.9 per cent shooting from the field to go along with five rebounds per game and 1.1 blocks per game. Shittu is one of two players in the league to average a double-double with 15.9 points per game and 10 rebounds per game, in addition to 1.1 blocks and steals per game. Meanwhile, Scott and Gilder average 12.1 points and 10.6 points respectively, with Gilder also ranking fourth in the league in steals per game.

Gilder is edged out by his teammate Stef Smith in the steals rankings. Smith has done a bit of everything for the Surge this season, with 14.6 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 5.4 assists per game and 2.4 steals per game. Without Smith in the past two games, the Surge looked to Mason Bourcier and Kadeem Allen in the starting lineup while Maurice Calloo has pitched in offensively off the bench.

However, the 6-3 start for the Surge has been fueled by their defence. The team has yet to allow more than 84 points in a contest and hold their opponents to 78 points per game overall. Calgary leads the CEBL in steals per game while they place second in both blocks per game and defensive rebounds per game.

On the other side, the Brampton Honey Badgers have been a streaky team to start the season. The defending champs started the season with back-to-back tight losses before winning four straight. They enter Wednesday’s matchup with Calgary looking to snap a two-game losing streak.

Brampton is deadlocked with three other teams in a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference at 4-4. The Montreal Alliance aren’t far behind at 3-6 as the season approaches its halfway point.

The Honey Badgers bring championship experience and a strong defence of their own to the table. In their four wins this season, Brampton averaged just 73 points allowed. The team is also top-five in the league in blocks through eight games. 

Offensively, the Honey Badgers are led by star guard Christian Vital. Entering the game, Vital is just one of just four players in the league to average over 20 points per game. The former UConn Huskie is averaging 21.3 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, five assists per game and  2.7 steals per game in seven appearances.

Four other players are averaging double-figures for Brampton’s offence. After winning the 2022 CEBL Sixth Man of the Year Award, Koby McEwen has excelled in his transition to the starting lineup with 15.8 points per game and 5.6 assists per game. Zane Waterman and Jeremiah Tilmon also contribute to the Honey Badgers’ starting five with 11.8 and 10.7 points per game respectively. Tilmon brings skills on the glass and protecting the rim as well.

Meanwhile, Cody John has also emerged as a key player for Brampton largely coming off the bench. John is averaging 10.8 points per game in eight total appearances — seven as a bench player.

The Honey Badgers are coming off two straight double-digit losses and will look for a win to propel them forward in a tight Eastern Conference. Brampton head coach Antoine Broxsie says the team will need to limit turnovers in the future after 23 in the last game.

“We need to take care of the ball better,” Broxsie said. “If we continue to do that, we'll be fine.”

Following Wednesday’s matchup, Brampton will host the Edmonton Stingers on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET while Calgary visits Niagara on Friday at 11 a.m. ET.