By Matthew Winick - August 7, 2021
The Guelph Nighthawks (5-9) won their second straight game over the Ottawa BlackJacks (4-9) with a score of 89-85 on Friday night at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph. In the process, the Nighthawks snatched fifth place from the BlackJacks in the CEBL’s standings.
Sitting sixth for most of the campaign, Guelph overtook Ottawa in the final game of its regular season. The game was tight from start to finish with eight lead changes, and neither squad gaining a double-digit advantage.
For Guelph, a shaky start to the season ends on a high note, with three of its five total wins coming in the last seven days. The Nighthawks were dealt with a hefty amount of roster turnover this season. Along with injuries, NBA Summer League call-ups and new additions, they’ve had 20 different players suit up in a game. With the team now finally gaining some stability with its roster, the positive results are starting to show up.
“We’ve been playing relatively well, I don’t think our record is indicative of how we’ve been playing,”
said Nighthawks’ head coach Charles Kissi after the game
, “I think for the most part we’ve been trending upwards and for a regular season, that’s what you want.”
Leading the way for Guelph was the trio of Ahmed Hill (21 points), Michael Bryson (19 points) and Matt Neufeld (14 points) who combined to score 54 of their team’s 89 points on the night. Hill’s contribution was especially needed, as the import guard handled most of the playmaking duties with teammate Cat Barber sitting on Friday.
“I know Cat is a big part of us on the offensive end… he gets us going, he makes plays, he assists, he gets to the rim, he makes everything better,”
“I knew I had to come in and try to do those same things, try to move the ball as well as getting my own shot.”
While the Nighthawks have been riding high lately, the same cannot be said for the BlackJacks. Ottawa has now lost four of its last five games after shocking the then-undefeated Edmonton Stingers back on July 17th. As a result, the team now falls a spot to sixth place in the league standings.
Despite the loss, the BlackJacks were in the contest the whole way through. The bench unit made a late push in the fourth quarter to give them a six-point lead, but after coach Charles Dubé-Brais left his reserves on to close out the Elam Ending, they couldn’t bring the same level of play down the stretch.
“(The bench) were the guys that had the most defensive energy… we felt like we had an opportunity to put them away,”
“We rode and died with these guys tonight and that’s the way it is.”
Mamadou Gueye paced Ottawa with 18 points against the team that traded him just weeks prior. Nick Ward was also his impactful self, scoring 12 points and securing a double-double with 11 rebounds.
While the BlackJacks are locked in sixth place, and know they’ll be playing on the road against the Hamilton Honey Badgers in the quarterfinals, they still have another regular season game on deck. That matchup will be on the road against the Niagara River Lions on Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. ET.
On the other side, Guelph’s regular season comes to an end with Friday’s victory. The Nighthawks can now look ahead to their quarterfinal matchup on the road against the Fraser Valley Bandits.
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.
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