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BlackJacks defeat River Lions to secure first home win of 2024

Tyrrell Tate Ottawa BlackJacks Tyrrell Tate - CEBL

Tyrrell Tate had 19 points to lead the Ottawa BlackJacks (2-5) to their first home victory of the season on Saturday defeating the Niagara River Lions (4-3), 90-86.

Tate knocked down two threes as part of his 19 points, snagged two rebounds, dished out four assists and had two steals. With the game on the line in Target Score Time, Tate put his head down, drove straight to the paint, and hit a running floater to seal the win.

“Just wanted to win, we needed it,” Tate said on hitting the game-winning floater. “We've been, we've been struggling, but we know how good we can be. We know our potential. We’re just trying to find a rhythm and get some consistency going. So, it just feels good to get to win at home in front of our fans that deserve it.”

Brandon Sampson also had an impact for the BlackJacks, scoring 16 points, grabbing six rebounds and snatching two steals.

In the loss, Niagara’s Aaryn Rai had 24 points on 50 per cent shooting and pulled down 16 rebounds.

“I mean, I think individually I had some opportunities to score, it just, you know, made some bad decisions turning it over,” Rai said about his thoughts on the game. “But I think, you know, we missed some shots that we usually make. And I think that, if we make those, maybe it's a different game, but kind of dropped the intensity of our defence.”

Both teams started the game trading buckets. However, it was the BlackJacks that were able to capitalize on Niagara's mistakes and pull away to end off the first leading 23-15.

Despite being down by double digits at times, the River Lions just wouldn’t go away. Rai erupted in the second quarter, scoring 13 points to help chip away at Ottawa's lead. The BlackJacks ended the half with a 46-45 lead and then maintained that one-point lead with a 64-63 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

Sampson spoke after the game on how he stays focused during close games like this one.

“I think anybody as a player, these are the moments that you live for as a player,” Sampson said. “You know, just close games and things like that, trying to stay locked in. So, no better opportunity in a game like that. Good team out there, gave us a good game, and situations like that are exciting. So, it's always a game. You never know how things go.”

After a close fourth quarter and with Target Score set at 90, Niagara evaporated Ottawa’s lead down two, trailing just 88-86 before Tate’s heroics to end the game for the BlackJacks.

Niagara’s head coach Victor Raso knows what the team must take away from this game going into the next.

“We have been very good in transition, and we made some really poor decisions in transition,” Raso said. “We turned the ball over 21 times. That's not going to win a road game. We missed a lot of shots around the rim too. You know can't really be missing layups and turn the ball over and expect to win on the road.”

What’s next for both teams?

The River Lions look to regroup and get back into the win column when they take on the Scarborough Shooting Stars this Wednesday. As for the BlackJacks, they look to continue this winning momentum when they face off against the Edmonton Stingers this Thursday.