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Guelph Nighthawks put on a show in first home game (15 photos)

First CEBL game at the Sleeman Centre draws a crowd of almost 2,000

It may not have been the result they were looking for on the scoreboard, but the Guelph Nighthawks were more than thrilled with the results off the court Saturday at the Sleeman Centre.

Guelph's entry in the new Canadian Elite Basketball League played its first home game before a crowd of 1,785.

Even though they lost to the Saskatchewan Rattlers by 20 points, the crowd rose as the clock wound down and gave the team a standing ovation.

"Everyone that came here left thoroughly entertained, that's for sure. I've had nothing but positive feedback," Nighthawks president Cam Kusch said. "That standing ovation was pretty cool. People up on their feet congratulating the guys and congratulating the experience.

"For us, we're here for the long term. We're here to build and grow, and I think this is a good platform for us to start on," Kusch said.

The Nighthawks play 10 home games. 

The action on the floor was high level and the spectacle off the court was pretty good too.

A dance team, a DJ, kids section, VIP seating and post-game autograph meet-and-greet with players all added to the sense of event.

On the court the Nighthawks struggled defensively, particularly on the perimetre, as they fell behind by 16 in the opening quarter and never recovered.

The Rattlers would go 17/30 on the night from beyond the three-point arc and hit 58 per cent of their shots overall.

"Defensively we just didn't get the job done," said Nighthawks coach Tarry Upshaw. "Tired legs or whatever, I think that we just didn't defend.

"Sometimes guys just don't have the energy and our energy was low until desperation time ... we need to get better energy right from the get-go and we can't let people score at will.

"It's not high school, it's pro, if you can't get the job done, you know what happens."

Upshaw was also impressed with the way the night went overall.

"The league really wants to make it an event, not just a game, and it was great. The best part about it is that you're going to have entertainment every night."

Myck Kabongo led Guelph with 28 points and 10 assists. Jamal Reynolds had 20 and Zeke Marshall 17 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.

Four Rattlers scored at least 20, led by Negus Webster-Chan with 28.


Next game for the Nighthawks is Saturday when they host the Fraser Valley Bandits at 7 p.m.

Guelph opened its season with a road win over Fraser Valley on Thursday.