Released For Publication - June 9 2022
The Guelph Nighthawks got their second win of the season, 86-79 over the Ottawa BlackJacks on home court.
Guelph is now 2-3 on the season and the BlackJacks fall to 1-4.
The first quarter started with a 7-0 run for the BlackJacks off of their three key offensive contributors, Walt Lemon Jr, Deng Adel and Bernard Thompson. Aj Lawson started the scoring for the Nighthawks with a three and sparked a run that would lead to a 12-12 ball game, 14-12 at the end of the first quarter. Lemon made an immediate impact that rung throughout the first half as hey got to the paint at will.
Ottawa’s one-on-one defense allowed them to contest the drive heavy Nighthawks offence and have personnel inside to grab rebounds, and that helped them as they traded leads with Guelph throughout the second quarter. Cat Barber and Bernard Thompson exchanged baskets throughout the quarter with Lemon intervening for a layup when he was given the chance.
Ottawa out-rebounded the Nighthawks 27-18 in the first half with 22 of those 27 coming on the defensive end, denying any Nighthawks second chance points. In response, Guelph went to their quick hands and forced 14 BlackJacks turnovers to their seven, creating 13 points off turnovers. At the end of the half, Guelph held a 40-33 lead.
Guelph started the third quarter on a 7-0 run thanks to Roche, Barber and Hill. A pair of blocks and a steal denied the BlackJacks opportunities and on the other end Guelph got into their offence quickly and capitalized. Once Zena Edosomwan made a layup to cut the BlackJacks deficit back to 12 at 47-35, Thompson and Bourisquot did the rest to get the BlackJacks within six and Edosomwan once again got a basket to go inside to make it a 49-45 ballgame.
From then on the Nighthawks and BlackJacks exchanged transition opportunities. At the end of the third quarter Guelph held a 63-60 lead. Thompson led the BlackJacks scoring in the third to get him to 14 points on the night. His backcourt duo in Lemon entered the fourth with 11 points and Shamiel Stevenson scored 11 off of the bench. Barber led the scoring for the Nighthawks with 18 points, Lawson with 11 and Hill with 10. In the third Ottawa was able to turn seven Nighthawks turnovers into 13 and tied the Nighthawks in points off those turnovers with 15.
Cody John and Lemon started the fourth for the BlackJacks with a pair of fast break layups to pull Ottawa within one. Stefan Smith answered back with a fast break layup of his own followed by a corner three to extend the Nighthawks lead to 70-64 and force a BlackJacks timeout. The pace of both teams had slowly picked up over the course of the game and late in the third and into the fourth they were both taking advantage of every opportunity to get a look on offence before the defence set up.
Guelph’s constant attack from their guards put the Nighthawks up 76-74 going into Elam time, target score set at 85. Barber, Hill and Lawson were three primary contributors for the Nighthawks to put them up two in Elam time, and they were the ones to put the Nighthawks within three points of a victory getting to the hoop with their athleticism.
Guelph led 82-77 when Lemon got to the free throw line and made both, but Cat Barber responded once again inside the paint, making back to back mid-range jumpers. Their point guard who played over 30 minutes sealed the game and gave the Nighthawks the 86-79 win.
Barber finished the game with a team high 26 points, two rebounds and five assists. Hill finished with 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and a block while Lawson had 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and a steal.
Leading the BlackJacks was Lemon with 19 points, six rebounds and a steal. Thompson scored 14 points, grabbed five rebounds, assisted on three baskets and recorded one steal. Rowe finished with 10 points and the BlackJacks depth saw Stevenson score 11 points and John score 10.
The Nighthawks guards made a big impact on the game and the Guelph win tonight, Guelph Head Coach Charles Kissi explained how they were able to find more success,“A lot of the stuff we’ve run early in the season has not given us the space we needed so we tried to change some things, keep it a little more simple in order to free them up to get into the paint and make some decisions, we weren’t great but better than it’s been so we’ll take it”
The Nighthawks constantly attacked the offensive glass throughout the game, Guelph Head Coach Charles Kissi said this of their efforts inside the paint,
“another big focus for us was to be aggressive. We had 16 offensive rebounds which was part of our game plan to just overwhelm them at the rim and I thought we did a pretty good job at that. We can finish and convert but that’s a whole other topic but I thought overall being aggressive in and around the paint with shots and offensive rebounds was key for us”