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Shooting Stars bounce back with win over Surge

Scarborough Shooting Stars Scarborough Shooting Stars - CEBL

The defending champions are winless no more.

After opening the season 0-2, the Scarborough Shooting Stars are in the win column with a 104-97 victory over the Surge in Calgary on Wednesday night.

It may have been a rematch of last year’s Championship Final, but this was a cast of newbies who came out on top, helping Scarborough avoid its first 0-3 start in franchise history. Eight of the nine Shooting Stars to check-in scored 10 or more points, led by Jackson Rowe for a third consecutive game, with 17 points on 77 per cent shooting to go with eight rebounds and three steals. 

He was supported by Jalen Adaway’s 15 points (including the game-winner), Kadre Gray’s 11 points and eight assists, and a bench group that added 40 points in the win.

“We have a very ego-less group,” said Scarborough head coach Devan Blair after his second unit outscored Calgary’s by 13 points. “Everyone just wants everyone to win and succeed, so when you have that, it makes everything a lot easier with your options on the bench.”

Meanwhile, the defending Western Conference champs were led by the CEBL experienced trio of Sean Miller-Moore who scored a team-high 20 points, Malcolm Duvivier who chipped in with 16 points and Mathieu Kamba’s double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

“It’s a learning curve,” said Duvivier following the Surge’s second loss in a row. “It’s a whole new group of guys … we’re all on the same page, so we’ll be good going forward.”

Coming into Wednesday, Calgary and Scarborough were at the top of the league for three-point percentage, the only two teams in the CEBL to shoot over 40 per cent from deep this season. Yet neither felt compelled to let it fly early as it quickly became a battle at the rim. 

The Surge and Shooting Stars combined to take just four shots from distance throughout the first quarter, choosing to trade baskets in the paint instead. And although Scarborough was led by Rowe’s perfect 4-for-4 start from two-point range, it was outmatched by Grace, who started 3-for-3, and the Surge who used an 11-2 run to carve out a six-point lead.

Calgary’s lead quickly dissipated throughout the second quarter however, as they couldn’t slow down Scarborough’s rim-running assault. After giving up 60 points in the paint to the Edmonton Stingers in their season-opening loss, the Surge were on pace to surpass that benchmark at halftime, giving up 32 paint points to the Shooting Stars.

“I challenged them before the game,” said Blair on Scarborough’s emphasis attacking at the basket. “Last game we shot seven free throws, we wanted to get to the line, the rim … that’s what we wanted, they didn’t have a lot of size.”

The Shooting Stars ended up shooting 24 free throws and scoring 52 points in the paint.

Scarborough’s strong second quarter, led by Devoe Joseph and Hason Ward scoring 10 points apiece would’ve earned them a six-point lead going into the break had it not been for Calgary going on a 7-0 run in the final minute. Duvivier drilled the second of his four triples on the night and then Miller-Moore chipped in four of his 10 points in the quarter, giving the Surge a 51-50 lead at halftime.

Before the second half and ahead of his first win as Scarborough’s head coach, Blair kept his message to the team simple, “get back to who we are.”

And it may have taken till the end of the third quarter, but the Shooting Stars eventually heeded the words of their bench boss, finally doing what they do best -- which is hitting threes. Scarborough’s inside drives opened up more looks from distance and they knocked down three triples in the last three minutes of the quarter, matching their output from the entire first half. The hot shooting stretch earned the Shooting Stars their first end of quarter lead, albeit narrowly as they went into the fourth up 72-71.

That margin only grew throughout the final frame. It was largely thanks to Jaden Campbell who scored eight of Scarborough’s first 10 points in the fourth quarter, sparking a 13-5 run that put them up double-digits. Again, the longball was finally dropping as the Shooting Stars hit four threes in the quarter as they went into Target Score Time leading 94-82.

Credit to the Surge for making things interesting late, going on a 10-1 run that brought it to a two-possession game, but that was as close as they could get without being able to chain together stops defensively. By the time Adaway put an end to the contest with a mid-range jumper, the Shooting Stars had converted on 72 per cent of their two-point attempts while outshooting the Surge from the field, distance and charity stripe.

“We got to a point where we were praying they would miss shots instead of forcing them into actions,” Calgary head coach Tyrell Vernon said on his team’s defence after the game. “We ran out of gas with our transition defence … for three quarters I give it an A (grade), but in that fourth quarter we hit a wall.” 

Up Next

The Surge hit the road for a short one game trip, still in search of their first win, as they’ll visit the currently undefeated Vancouver Bandits on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Shooting Stars also return to action on Saturday, hosting the Niagara River Lions in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final for Scarborough’s home opener and banner night.