It was Fathers Day Weekend, and there was no better way to start it off than with some great basketball action on Friday night. The Hive was buzzing a day after the Raptors claimed the NBA Championship, and the Edmonton Stingers looked to feed off that momentum as they hosted the Honey Badgers from Hamilton.
The Badgers came out with a lot of energy early, led by guard Ricky Tarrant Jr. The Stingers shifted their focus their half-court offence from the inside-out, establishing Travis Daniels, who delivered time and time again inside the paint. When Daniels was covered, Deondre Parks continued the inside assault with a hard-earned basket. However, some sloppy defence by the Stingers allowed got the Badgers to the free throw line, keeping them in the game with each shot made. Some quick ball movement on offence allowed Mamadou Gueye to pick up an easy basket, while Travis Daniels continued his stellar play on the inside. Hamilton proceeded to utilize the fast break as much as possible, which led to more foul trouble for the Stingers. A huge turning point of the game came at the 6:49 mark, where Stingers coach Barnaby Craddock received a technical foul for arguing with Hamilton guard Demetrious Denzel-Dyson. The Badgers made all four foul shots, equaling the game at 8 apiece roughly midway through the first. As the tensions rose, Travis Daniels continued to bang around inside, earning and making two free throws. However, Denzel-Dyson continued to keep pace for the Badgers, hitting a basket from outside.
Unfortunately, the Stingers soon found themselves getting into free throw trouble. Deondre Parks was fouled on a three-pointer, but could only make one free throw. Ashton Smith follows that up with going 1/2 on his following free throws. Forward Joe Rocca hits a hook from inside, and Tarrant stays hot from the outside with another 3. The Stinger’s Brody Clarke was fouled on the baseline heading into the media timeout, with the Badgers leading 16-14 with 3:48 to go.
Both teams come out hot from the break, with the Stinger’s Akida Peter-McNeilly and Brody Clarke connecting from the outside. Unfortunately, both Joe Rocca and Ricky Tarrant Jr. countered for the Honey Badgers. A late goaltending call – a rarity in FIBA basketball – gave the Stingers a 4-point lead. Unfortunately, a late three-pointer from Justin Edwards pulled the Badgers within one going into the quarter break.
STINGERS 28, HONEY BADGERS 27
Stingers Captain Jordan Baker went to work early in the 2nd stanza. Despite an early shot getting blocked, Baker regained control of the ball and fed Daniels for a good chance inside, resulting in two free throws. However, Daniels misses both shots from the charity stripe, and that seemed to be the theme to start the 2nd quarter. In fact, both teams were cold from the field, with both sides missing their next six shots combined. Three minutes in, Baker once again fed Daniels on the inside, leading to the first field goal of the quarter. However, Ricky Tarrant Jr responded with a three in the corner for the Badgers, and it seemed like he refused to let the Badgers to be taken out of the game. However, the same could be said of Stingers Forward Travis Daniels, who hits a THUNDEROUS dunk to get the crowd back into the game. Demetrious Denzel-Dyson attempted a hammer dunk of his own but was hacked, sending him to the free throw line. He made both free throws to bring the Badgers to tie the game at 32. This is where the Stingers appear to take over, with guard Mamadou Gueye hitting an off-balance three-pointer from the baseline. It was followed up by a wild put-back, a steal, and a fast break layup led by Jordan Baker leading to a timeout by the Badgers, down 39-32.
Coming out of the timeout, the troubles continued for the Badgers, with big man Ryan Ejim picking up an offensive foul. Unfortunately, their shooting also continued to hit a dry spell. Brody Clarke attempted to take advantage of the Badgers woes, driving to the rim and being hacked. Fortunately, Clarke made both free throws. The frustrations continued for the Badgers, with forward Sampson Carter picking up his 3rd foul of the half on an illegal screen. While the Stingers attempted to take advantage, some tough defence keeps the ball out of the Badger’s basket. After a tough foul with 3:01 left, Ricky Tarrant Jr. picked up a technical foul, and Deondre Parks converted the free throw. Both sides traded rebound put-backs, but after a huge block by Mike Fraser and a Demetrious Denzel-Dyson reverse layup, it seems the fortunes were changing for the Badgers. Add to that, Stingers star forward Travis Daniels appears to hyper-extend his arm on an errant pass with 1:15 left and has to be taken out of the game. Following an offensive foul to Fraser, Mamadou Gueye appeared to put a final stamp with a big slam, and Deondre Parks hit a layup, forcing the Badgers to take a time-out with 10.6 seconds to go. The time-out appeared to work like a charm, as the Badgers complete an alley-oop to Justin Edwards to close out the half.
Travis Daniels led the Stingers with 10 points, with Brody Clarke adding in 7. Ricky Tarrant Jr and Demetrious Denzel-Dyson had 14 points each to lead the Honey Badgers.
STINGERS 49-HONEY BADGERS 44
A sigh of relief came upon the crowd at the Hive as Travis Daniels started the second half for the Stingers. Justin Edwards looked to take advantage of the injury, slashing in to start the second half. With the Stingers looking to establish the inside, Mark Fraser picked up his third foul early. Guard Ashton Smith took advantage, hitting a jumper to extend the lead. With Fraser in foul trouble, Ryan Ejim steps up as a terror on the glass. Despite Smith hitting another jumper for the Stingers, the Badgers started to take over at this point. Justin Edwards and Ricky Tarrant Jr. hit some easy shots, while Travis Daniels missed a layup for the Stingers. Despite Tarrant picking up his third foul three minutes in, the Stingers were forced to call a time-out to stop the bleeding. Their lead had eroded down to one 53-52, with 7:22 left.
Out of the time-out, the Stingers look to work inside-out once again, as interior passing from Travis Daniels and Ashton Smith led to a three by Mamadou Gueye. Despite turning up the defence, Ricky Tarrant Jr showed his range, hitting a 25-footer to silence the crowd. Travis Daniels looks to fire them back up with a tough rebound and a put-back, but the defence fell asleep and allowed Denzel-Dyson to leak out for an and-one layup. Unfortunately, despite Brody Clarke being second in scoring for the Stingers in the first half, he also had his share of problems. A three-second call, a turnover and a foul just seemed like piling on. However, that all changed in an instant. After a ball was tipped into the Stingers back-court and the shot clock winding down, Clarke heaved a 60-foot prayer. It is answered with a swish, and the entire crowd at the Hive came unglued. This seemed to spark the Stingers, and it was time for Mr. Energy, Grandy Glaze, to step up. Glaze became a terror on the boards, and after Jordan Baker made a put-back to retake the lead 65-64. At that point, the Badgers called a time-out with 3:06 left in the third.
Coming out of the time-out, Glaze committed an early foul. However, Joe Rocca missed the free throw, the first miss of the game for the Badgers. Glaze continues to clean up the boards, and despite tenacious defence by the Badgers, Brody Clarke cleaned up the garbage inside. This is followed up by a steal from Baker, who launched a baseball pass to Glaze for the picture perfect layup. The Honey Badgers passed it around the outside until they hit a streaking Rocca for the quick two. Denzel-Dyson also took advantage of the offence, taking a foul and hitting both free throws. Both teams went quiet for the rest of the half, with Brody Clarke taking a charge to finish off the third quarter.
STINGERS 73, HONEY BADGERS 71
Both teams remained cold to start the fourth until Jordan Baker pushed a Denzel-Dyson miss into a layup. Justin Edwards tried to get too cute on a layup, missed, and the Stingers took it down the court, leading to a Gueye slam dunk. Following a quick steal and a layup by Daniels, Hamilton called a time-out with the team down 79-74 with 7:54 left. Out of the time-out, Ejim hit a tough layup. After misses from both sides, Joe Rocca leaked out and picked up a crucial layup. Travis Daniels made another shot inside off a feed from Ashton Smith. Following a miss by the Badgers, Mamadou Gueye picked up an offensive foul on a screen, his third. Subsequently, he picked up his fourth on the possession down-court, leading to Edwards hitting both free throws. Coming back up the floor, Ashton Smith was tied up by the Badgers, causing a turnover on the jump ball. Grandy Glaze managed to steal the ball as the Badgers advanced the ball up but ended up missing the layup and sent the ball back to the Badgers. Some great defence by Jordan Baker led to a charge on Edwards, his third of the game. Tarrant Jr. gets his 4th foul with 4:15 left, but the Stingers couldn’t take advantage, with Ashton Smith going 1/2 from the line. Despite picking up his fourth, Tarrant Jr. is determined, driving to the rim and being fouled by Ashton Smith. He made both free throws, extending the lead. Brody Clarke gets a Kawai Leonard-like 4-rimmer shot to fall. On the subsequent possession, the Stingers Adika Peter-McNeilly took a charge on Justin Edwards, his fourth foul. A steal on the following possession led to a Joe Rocca slam. Add a Ryan Ejim tip-in and the Badgers lead 88-84 with 2:20 to go. Jordan Baker took a feed from Brody Clarke to cut the deficit to two. However, off a steal, Ashton Smith was called for a hard foul with 1:29 left. Denzel-Dyson hits one of two free throws, but the Badgers keep possession. Following an exchange of misses, Gueye was fouled on a three-point attempt. However, with a chance to tie the game up with free throws, he only hit his second, closing the deficit to two. On the subsequent possession, Gueye fouled out trying to defend Ricky Tarrant Jr. Tarrant hit one of two free throws, growing the lead to three. Unfortunately, Jordan Baker missed a tough three at the buzzer to send the Stingers to their first home loss.
FINAL SCORE: HONEY BADGERS 90, STINGERS 87
Tonight’s game was more of a war than any other opponent faced at home so far. With two technical fouls given out, you can tell both teams did not like each other. The Stingers did not establish themselves early. Early on the Honey Badgers appeared to be a two-man show, with Tarrant Jr. and Denzel-Dyson holding down the majority of the scoring for the team from Hamilton. Despite having a 20-point advantage with points in the paint 54-34, it comes down to the free throw game once again. The Stingers finished with a 47% free throw percentage, going 10-21. Not only did the Honey Badgers go 90% from the charity stripe, but they also made more free throws than the Stingers attempted. (28/31)
Quotes of the Night:
“I thought we could play transition defence better, but I like the way our guys battled. They competed. They had good energy. We didn’t have enough to win tonight, but we had good energy and pushed right to the very end tonight.” – Stingers Head Coach Barnaby Craddock on his teams performance tonight.
“They have a very physical team. They have a couple big bodies. We talked before the game about energy and matching their physicality, and trying to be the aggressor in the game. It was a slug-fest, with a lot of fouls. They’re a tough team with a lot of talent.” – Stingers post Brody Clarke talking about the roughness of the game and of the Honey Badgers.
The Stingers (4-4) are away from the Hive for the first time in four weeks, as they travel to Fraser Valley to take on the winless Bandits (0-7). Game time on Saturday June 22, is 8 pm local time, and is available on the CBC Sports App. The Stingers will return home to kick off Canada Day Weekend with their final Friday night game this season at home, taking on the League-leading Niagra River Lions (7-2). Tip off at the Edmonton Expo Centre is 7 pm.
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