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Sea Bears stun Shooting Stars in thrilling home-opener victory

Scarborough Shooting Stars vs. Winnipeg Sea Bears Scarborough Shooting Stars vs. Winnipeg Sea Bears - CEBL

Teddy Allen lived up to his nickname, Teddy Buckets, on Friday. But head coach Mike Taylor has another suggestion: Triple-Double Teddy.

The Sea Bears star scored 41 points while adding nine rebounds and six assists in Winnipeg’s home opener at Canada Life Centre, a thrilling 109-106 victory over the reigning champion Scarborough Shooting Stars.

“I’ve been a part of a couple of [Target Score finishes] and that’s one of the best of them, for sure,” said Sea Bears guard Alex Campbell, whose 75 games in the league are more than anyone.

Naturally, then, it was Campbell who kept his cool to seal the win.

As for Allen, his stat line at the end of the game wasn’t quite a triple-double. But Taylor’s idea — that his star player needed to become more of a distributor — proved effective when it mattered most.

With the teams tied at 106, the next made shot would determine the winner. Scarborough (0-1) had the first shot at glory, and a messy possession ended with off-season addition Jackson Rowe drawing a reach-in foul.

But a raucous Sea Bears crowd — at 9,116, the second-largest attendance ever for a CEBL regular season game — got loud when it mattered most, and Rowe came up short on each of his free throws.

“Honestly, I’ve been in a lot of arenas in my career and that was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard. It felt like your head was gonna fall off,” said Sea Bears guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson.

The misses breathed new life into Winnipeg (1-1), and Allen raced down the floor with the ball. As the defence keyed in on the reigning MVP, it left Campbell open in the corner.

Allen moved the ball to the Brampton, Ont., native, who calmly swished the three-pointer and sent the home side into a frenzy.

“This was just a storybook beginning to our season here at home,” said Winnipeg head coach Mike Taylor.

“You’ve got the defending champions coming in, you’ve got a sellout, you’ve got a team that you believe in. Then to fall behind in [Target Score Time], the assist from the home crowd to impact the free-throw shooter and then to have Alex hit a big three, I’m just so thankful and so proud of the guys, proud of the city.”

Allen put it more succinctly.

“Electric,” he told TSN reporter Nikki Reyes in a post-game interview. “The atmosphere was electric.”

Allen’s revised focus was on display from the team’s second offensive possession of the game, when he threaded a pass inside for Darius Days, who was fouled on a layup attempt.

The moment seemed to set the tone for the remainder of the game, which featured multiple twists and turns.

Both teams held double-digit leads and saw them erased, with the Shooting Stars coughing theirs up in the first half while the Sea Bears nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter.

Scarborough eventually entered Target Score Time up five points, but Winnipeg once again clawed back to tie the game at 103.

Shooting Stars guard Kadre Gray, another off-season addition from Ottawa, nailed a deep three-pointer to put his new team on the brink of victory, but Allen answered right back with a towering trey of his own, setting up
the wild final sequence.

“I’m really proud of the way they battled,” said Scarborough head coach Devan Blair, who was debuting behind the bench. “For that being [Winnipeg’s] second game, home opener, crowd’s rocking. For us to be able to come back in that fourth quarter and take the lead into [Target Score Time], have a chance to win. Those guys showed a lot of heart. They battled. Extremely proud of them.”

While the Shooting Stars only returned two players from last year’s championship squad for this game, the new group looked more than capable of repeating.

They would have won their first game together, too, if they’d figured out a way to stop the reigning MVP.

Excluding his late free-throw misses, Rowe made positive impacts throughout en route to a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Gray added 17 points of his own off the bench to go with nine assists.

And it was former G Leaguer Tevian Jones who came alive late, sparking the fourth-quarter rallying and pacing his squad with 18 points.

Meanwhile, the Shooting Stars also avoided an injury scare when the bouncy forward Hason Ward seemed to bend his knee awkwardly and left the game. Ward missed just one play and was able to finish out a strong
debut featuring points and seven blocks.

But this game was all about the Sea Bears, who risked falling into an early 0-2 hole after falling short in their season opener against the Saskatchewan Rattlers on Wednesday.

Campbell’s winning bucket gave him eight points for the game and 1,002 for his career, including playoffs, while Allen’s assist marked his 100th in the league.

The NBA-experienced starting frontcourt of Byron Mullens and Darius Days continued to show their strength as they combined for 21 points and 13 rebounds.

And Ogungbemi-Jackson, the Sea Bears captain on Friday, provided the kind of scoring support that was missing against the Rattlers. The Winnipegger scored 19 points while adding 10 rebounds and six assists as
the team’s starting point guard.

“It was big. I felt like we obviously didn’t play our best game against Saskatchewan. I wasn’t happy with the way we came out, I thought we could play much better,” Ogungbemi-Jackson said.

“And even though we brought it back to a close game, I thought it was really, really important for us to get this game on our home floor.”