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River Lions hand Shooting Stars first home loss of the season

Khalil Ahmad Niagara River Lions Khalil Ahmad - CEBL

Khalil Ahmad and Aaryn Rai combined for 45 points to help the Niagara River Lions (10-5) defeat the Scarborough Shooting Stars (7-7) 98-77 on Tuesday night.

The River Lions propelled themselves to victory with a massive 32-point second quarter in which they built a 15-point lead that they would never relinquish.

“We stuck to our plan,” River Lions head coach Victor Raso said about how the team gained the upper hand in the second. “We had matchups on the floor that we wanted to go at, and we did that. We defended quite hard, our ball screen coverage was good.”

Niagara’s defence was unrelenting, holding Scarborough to 26 per cent from three, and 36 per cent from the field in the game. Their suffocating defence resulted in just 17- and 13-point quarters for the Shooting Stars in the middle two frames, respectively.

Raso discussed how the team prepared for Scarborough defensively coming into this matchup.

“We were quite prepared for Cat [Barber],” he said. “This is a roster who didn’t shoot the ball well tonight, they’re missing some of their guys. We knew we had to load up on Cat and let the other guys beat us.”

Ahmad led the way for the River Lions with 25 points, seven assists, four steals, and two blocks. Rai also helped out with 20 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.

“Pretty good, had some mistakes I need to clean up,” Ahmad said about how he would evaluate his performance tonight. “Otherwise, I feel like it was a well-put-together, all-around game.”

Scarborough’s Cat Barber, who made history by becoming the second CEBL player to register 300 career assists in the loss, tallied 16 points, seven assists, and five rebounds on the night.

After neither team could gain the upper hand in the first, the River Lions were able to take over on both ends of the floor to balloon their lead to 51-36 heading into the second half.

“It was the defensive intensity,” said Ahmad about the team’s impressive second quarter. “Get stops, go out and get good ones. That gives us confidence to keep it going.”

Niagara kept their foot on the gas throughout the second half and strolled to a 98-77 victory.

Shooting Stars assistant coach Kane Martinez knows what the team can take away from this loss.

“Just came out flat tonight,” Martinez said. “We didn’t come out with pop at home, that’s partly on me. It’s tough, we got guys in and out. But that’s how it is, that’s how this league is. You got to react in the right way, but other than that we just have to put it behind us.”

What’s next for both teams?

The River Lions look to extend their win streak to four when they face off against the Montreal Alliance this Thursday. The Shooting Stars look to get back into the swing of things when they take on the Edmonton Stingers this Saturday.