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Watermen, Thorpe take over to help Honey Badgers defeat River Lions

Brampton Honey Badgers Brampton Honey Badgers - CEBL

Zane Watermen and LJ Thorpe combined for more than 35 points to help the Brampton Honey Badgers (1-0) come back from a double-digit deficit and take down the Niagara River Lions (0-1) 74-67.

The first quarter started with some physicality as both teams were attacking the paint consistently throughout the first few possessions. The River Lions started to gain the upper hand late into the first by constantly pushing the tempo and scoring in transition.

Niagara stuck to what brought them success throughout the quarter, pushing the pace in transition and attacking the Badgers' paint when working in the half-court. Niagara kept the buckets coming by hitting a late pull-up three to end off the quarter and lead going into the second.

The second quarter started well for the River Lions and forward Loudon Love was everywhere. He was fighting for offensive boards, battling down low in the paint, and running the pick-and-roll for some easy scores. It seemed like while Love was in the game, Brampton didn’t have an answer for him.

However, Brampton would slowly start to chip away at Niagara’s lead, and at the head of this comeback would be Forward Zane Waterman. Waterman played at a slow methodical pace, taking advantage of Love not being in the game, attacking the paint and drawing fouls.

The Niagara River Lions led the Brampton Honey Badgers 36-34 at the half.

The third quarter began with Brampton coming out of the gates playing aggressively and forcing Niagara to make consecutive turnovers that led to some easy scores and an early lead over the River Lions. The Honey Badgers stepped up their defence in the third, forcing Niagara into some bad passes, cutting off passing lanes and denying them from driving to the paint as often.

Waterman kept up his high level of play from the second, helping to keep the Honey Badgers ahead, either making the right play or scoring when the team needed it. It seemed like the Honey Badgers found an answer for Loudon Love, as he just couldn’t seem to get it going during the third. Brampton would keep up the high level of play and end off the third with the lead.

Sheldon Cassimy, head coach of the Honey Badgers, spoke about how important Watermen is to the team and how crucial he was to help Brampton take the lead. “He helps with the spacing and he helps with the execution,” Cassimy said. “He's a vet and he's played for so many years overseas and he gives that kind of a European offence and execution that we're looking for like this is the feeble game, so he's big for our offence, his ability to stretch the floor and just kind of keep everybody together, so it's huge for us.”

The River Lions started the fourth quarter trying their best to attack the paint and chip away at the Honey Badgers lead. However, Brampton was able to answer back by going back to what made them successful in the third. Despite Niagara’s best efforts, both Waterman and LJ Thorpe would continue their high level of offence from both inside and beyond the arc.

Waterman had a beautiful pass out of a double team to the open man to help push the Brampton lead 69-64, with a 74-target score in sight. Thorpe would hit the game-winner with a pull-up three to help Brampton secure their first win of the season.

The Honey Badgers and Zane Waterman went into the game with a chip on their shoulder.

“I think we're just honestly … I think we're the stronger team,” said Waterman. “I think a lot of people counted us out this season and I think a lot of people are going to be biting their words.”

Despite the loss, head coach of the River Lions, Victor Raso, knows the team can be better going forward and looks forward to the rematch. “It happens, it's tough to win in this league, it's tougher to win on the road, and you know we didn't play well,” Raso said. “That locker room knows that we are a much better team than we showed tonight, and you know part of it is on them, a lot of it is on me making sure that we are better offensively going forward.”

“So, we just get back to the drawing board. The morale lies in the fact that we get to play these guys a week later and we'll be ready to go.”