Zeke Moore’s 17-point night led the Scarborough Shooting Stars to a 97-90 win over the Brampton Honey Badgers in the CEBL regular season finale on Monday night.
In his second game back from injury, the import out of Chicago looked like his usual self after scoring just four points the night before. Moore finished shooting 58 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from distance while also grabbing three steals in the process.
“I have another step to me,” said Moore on his return from an ankle sprain. “I’m coming back faster than expected…I feel like I can help a lot and I feel confident.”
Scarborough’s next best scorers came off the bench, with Kyree Walker who tallied 14 points and six rebounds, while Elijah Lufile notched a double-double via 13 points and 10 boards.
Zane Waterman led the way for Brampton in their second consecutive loss, as the big man put up a double-double of his own with 20 points and 11 rebounds. He was helped by M.J. Walker who put up 18 points on better than 50 per cent shooting from the field and beyond the arch, while also grabbing two blocks and two steals.
In his debut with the Honey Badgers, Walker made a positive impression early thanks to his lights out play throughout the first quarter. The Riverdale, Georgia, native scored eight points on 3-4 shooting, which led all players to that point and helped Brampton take a 26-23 lead into the second.
“It was fun,” said M.J. Walker on his first game with Brampton. “Just getting a feel of the team’s strengths and weaknesses…[I’m] just trying to make winning plays and making sure we stay on the path to wins.”
The Honey Badgers extended their lead to as many as six points throughout the next quarter but ultimately let the Shooting Stars back into the game because of turnover struggles. Just one game removed from giving the ball away 23 times, Brampton looked well on their way to matching that pace in this contest as the squad turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, seven in the second quarter alone.
Scarborough showed an inability to capitalize on extra possessions in their game yesterday against Vancouver, ultimately costing them in the narrow 82-79 defeat. The team forced 25 turnovers but only scored 20 points off the freebies, while giving up 23 points the other way. However, the Shooting Stars made sure not to repeat that performance as they spent most of the second taking advantage of easy looks, scoring 18 points from turnovers, which accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the team’s scoring production.
“We watched film and said we had to be better,” said Shooting Stars head coach Chris Exilus on his team’s improvement converting on turnovers. “We knew we had to finish possessions, we forced 25 turnovers against Vancouver but didn’t capitalize as much so we made it an emphasis.”
It looked like the Shooting Stars had done enough to keep the game tied at 45 a piece headed into the break, but Barber made sure to give his team the lead as he drilled a buzzer-beating triple that put Scarborough up 48-45 at the half.
Coming out of the break, the two teams spent most of the third quarter tied, until the Shooting Stars bench put their stamp on the frame. Gedi Juozapaitis knocked down a triple to lead an 8-0 run before Elijah Lufile capped off the quarter with three points of his own, giving his team a 73-66 edge headed into the fourth.
The duo led a second unit that scored 31 points through three quarters, giving the team a +14 edge on buckets off the pine.
Fans of Scarborough likely remember Tyrell Green for the heartbreak he caused the fan base a year ago while a member of the Ottawa BlackJacks. The forward scored 15 points on the night, but 11 of them came in Target Score Time, including a game-winning three. In his first game at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre since the clutch performance, Green looked ready to remind the home crowd of that feeling.
He knocked down back-to-back triples for the Honey Badgers, making him 4-6 from distance to that point – on route to his 12 points for the game – as he brought the game to a three-point margin, 87-84 for the Shooting Stars ahead of Target Time.
The Shooting Stars had their lead up to five points before a Kyree Walker layup had the team within one basket of snapping a two-game losing streak. After that play, Scarborough had two separate opportunities to finish the game at the charity stripe, but three consecutive misses by Lufile and Myck Kabongo meant the team still needed one more point before the victory.
Thankfully for the home crowd, Walker was able to force one more turnover out of the Honey Badgers – their 23rd of the night – and the forward took the ball coast to coast and finished the game with a layup, 97-90 the final.
With the finish, the CEBL’s regular season has officially concluded, and the post-season will begin on Friday when the Eastern and Western Conference play-in games will take place. Fans will be in for a dose of déjà vu as Brampton and Scarborough will return to action against each other in the East play-in as both teams try to advance to the next round.