For Immediate Release - June 29, 2021
Gray leads the way as the Ottawa BlackJacks top the Guelph Nighthawks
Kadre Gray led the way for the second straight game as the Ottawa BlackJacks (1-0) topped the Guelph Nighthawks (0-1), 96-79 on Monday night at the Arena at TD Place.
Gray tallied 27 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists on a night that gave the BlackJacks their first win of the 2021 CEBL season.
Ottawa bounced back in game two thanks to a strong start. The BlackJacks came ready to play opening up a 12-point lead after the first quarter and a 17-point lead at the half. After a dynamic performance in their season opener, Gray, along with fellow guard Junior Cadougan found their way into the starting lineup, and their presence was felt immediately.
Gray and Cadougan provided the BlackJacks with energy on both the offensive and defensive ends. They are both players who do more than their statistics show, taking charges in transition, fighting over screens to pressure the ball, and driving into the lane and facilitating for their teammates. These energy plays proved pivotal for the BlackJacks, especially without fans at the Arena at TD Place.
“I think Kadre was well prepared by having to carry a team in U SPORTS the way he did. He was able to carry an offensive load for them so I think he built some mental toughness doing that throughout his college career and I think he’s carrying that to the pro game right now,”
said head coach Charles Dubé-Brais.
“I think he’s got a great future, he’s going to be a stud in this league and he’s got some great, great years ahead of him.”
Nick Ward was also pivotal for the BlackJacks, notching a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds). His physical play in the post and around the rim is another intangible asset that Ottawa benefitted from in game two.
After shaking off the opening night jitters, the BlackJacks cleaned up their turnovers and began to find their chemistry in game two, tallying 18 assists. Aggressive drives from Gray, Cadougan, and Alain Louis drew defenders in and allowed open looks for the likes of Tyrell Green who made several open three-pointers and finished with 16 points.
“Remembering last game and how that felt, when I went home I thought, ‘Man I wish we could have that one back,’ because we were slow to start,”
“So when we came out today we just knew to pack the paint, we we’re locked in together. You could really see the family out there and that’s what we missed the first game.”
Cat Barber headed the charge for the Guelph Nighthawks with 25 points in 40 minutes of action. The Nighthawks’ guards were crafty early on, driving into the lane and dishing out to perimeter shooters. Guelph missed some open looks in the first half, but stayed persistent throughout the game. In the second half, the Nighthawks found success when the likes of Barber and Ahmed Hill attacked the basket and finished with layups.
“I think at the end of the day we have to be more aggressive, and our guys know that,”
said head coach Charles Kissi.
“It’s one game, we have 13 more games to figure it out. We played a few days later than everyone else, we have to kick off the cobwebs. These guys haven’t played in a year – no excuses – but there are some good things that happened.”
Justin Jackson was solid in his Nighthawks debut with 17 points and eight rebounds. The six-foot-seven forward scored from all areas on the court, making both three-pointers and put backs underneath the hoop. He scored nine of the Guelph’s first eleven points in his return to the Canadian court after spending the better half of the last five years playing in the United States.
“It’s an amazing feeling, I just wish we could have fans at the games just because I truly believe that Canadian fans are one-of-a-kind, they’re so special,”
said the Scarborough, Ont. native.
“I honestly feel like we have the best team in this league and I wouldn’t want to go to war with anyone else,”
“It’s just a matter of tweaking a few things and we can’t have slow starts like that. The team with the best chemistry that works well together usually wins these type of leagues, there’s only 14 games so we have to pick it up fast.”
Guelph will travel to Hamilton to take on the Honey Badgers on July 3 at 1:30 p.m. ET at FirstOntario Centre in search of their first win on the season.
The Ottawa BlackJacks will look to continue their winning ways when they host the Hamilton Honey Badgers on July 1 at 2:00 p.m. ET at the Arena at TD Place.
All CEBL games will be available for live streaming on the CEBL’s new OTT streaming service, CEBL+, cbcsports.ca, the free CBC Gem streaming service, the CBC Sports App for iOS and android devices, and on Twitch.
About the CEBL
A league created by Canadians for Canadians, the CEBL has the highest percentage of Canadian players of any professional league in the country, with 75 percent of its current rosters being Canadians. Players bring experience from the NBA, NBA G League, top international leagues, the Canadian National team program, and top NCAA programs as well as U SPORTS. The only First Division Professional League Partner of Canada Basketball, the CEBL season typically runs from May through August. Head to CEBL.ca for more information or follow us on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook & YouTube.