ST. CATHARINES – The Hamilton Honey Badgers opened with a 10-0 run and never looked back Monday, downing the Guelph Nighthawks 97-71 at the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series.
Both teams are now 1-1 at the tournament.
Entering the Summer Series, the Honey Badgers were labelled as a team to watch thanks to the additions of NBA-experienced guard Brianté Weber and Team Canada regular Owen Klassen.
The Honey Badgers came out a different team on Monday compared to the one that was outpaced by Niagara on Saturday. The pressure defense that was absent Saturday fueled Hamilton to a 10-0 run to open the game and forced Guelph to shoot just .235 from the floor in the opening frame and .294 in the first half. Weber, Klassen, and Jaylen Babb-Harrison combined for 31 first-half points to help the Honey Badgers enter halftime ahead 46-33.
“Obviously Saturday was a tough loss. It was our first game out the gate,” said Honey Badgers head coach Ryan Schmidt after picking up the first victory of his pro head coaching career. “I think we kind of sold ourselves short in terms of effort and just the overall togetherness on Saturday. So, we kind of challenged the guys yesterday, and I think they responded really well.”
Guelph struggled to find any consistency and leaned heavily on Tyrell Green to produce offence for the Nighthawks. Green scored a team-high 16 points, and the only other Nighthawk to score in double digits was Jamal Reynolds, who finished with 12 points.
Guelph showed signs of life in the third quarter as a steal and a breakaway lay-up by Marcus Anderson brought the Nighthawks to within 10 points, but that would be as close as Guelph would get. The Nighthawks shot just 29 per cent from the field in the game and were outscored 42-18 in the paint.
“We didn’t play with a lot of great energy today,” said head coach Charles Kissi. “Transition defence and all of our keys – we didn’t do a great job executing. But again, it’s one loss and we’ve got another game tomorrow. We’ll move on and figure it out and be ready to play tomorrow.”
Guelph will play Niagara on Tuesday.