The Edmonton Stingers became the first team to win back-to-back CEBL championships with a 101-65 win over the Niagara River Lions on Sunday.
Three-time league MVP Xavier Moon led the Stingers with 28 points and 10 assists in front of a roaring home crowd at the EXPO Centre.
“It’s what we set out to do,” said Stingers coach Jermaine Small. “You visualize these things and they happen. It almost feels like it’s not real sometimes. And then it just became reality.
“I got to give them [Niagara] a lot of credit. They’re good. We just wanted it more.”
The Stingers patrolled the paint and dominated in transition while nailing big shots, taking a 42-29 lead at halftime.
Edmonton continued to pull away with a 70-47 lead entering the fourth quarter, and the relentless offensive onslaught kept rolling.
Moon nailed back-to-back three-pointers in the Elam Ending before following it with a dunk to move the Stingers one point away from victory. Jordan Baker then hit the game-winning lay up to clinch the title.
WATCH | Stingers cruise past River Lions to repeat as CEBL champions:
Baker was second on the team with 19 points while also adding 10 assists and six rebounds.
Mathieu Kamba added 18 points for the Stingers, and Marlon Johnson made a major impact on both ends of the court with 14 points and a game-high four blocks for Edmonton.
Niagara guard Phil Scrubb led the River Lions with 17 points, including five triples.
The Stingers finished the regular season atop the standings with a 13-1 record, and they punched their ticket to the final by ousting the Ottawa BlackJacks in the semis on home turf.
“I feel like we kind of hit a bit of a wall,” River Lions coach Victor Raso said. “[Edmonton] is a good basketball team who was just hungry for every loose ball.
“Our guys started to lose a bit of confidence and started to get drained and they just kind of put the pedal to the metal.”
The Stingers ran the floor early to take a 10-6 lead in the first quarter, but a three-pointer from Tommy Scrubb quickly closed the gap. Moon responded immediately by surging down the court for a lay up — a sign of the relentless offence to come.
Tommy’s brother, Phil, added another triple to bring Niagara within two, and Daniel Mullings came through with his second big block of the quarter to deny Edmonton.
But Johnson fired up the home crowd with a three-pointer of his own to extend the Stingers’ lead.
The Stingers continued to knock down big shots and swallow up rebounds, and a triple from point guard Jahmal Jones gave Edmonton a 22-12 lead after the first quarter.
Moon and the rest of the offence picked up where they left off in the second, while the River Lions struggled to penetrate through Edmonton’s defence.
A jumper from Moon extended the lead to 16 points, and the momentum continued to grow when Kamba nailed a triple and Baker drove back down for a quick layup — prompting Niagara to burn a timeout.
The six-foot-10 Johnson used his length on the defensive end to stifle Niagra with big blocks in the paint, but the River Lions tried everything they could to claw back.
Mullings and the Scrubb brothers led the way as the River Lions battled to keep the game within reach, entering halftime down 42-29.
Kamba led all players with 16 points in the first half, while Moon led all players with six assists.
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An uncontested dunk from Kamba gave Edmonton a 50-34 lead in the third, and Niagara called another timeout as the game began to slip away once again.
Baker and Moon then hit back-to-back triples as the cheers grew louder and louder.
Moon drilled a jumper to close out the quarter, giving Edmonton a commanding 70-47 lead entering the fourth.
Jones added back-to-back triples as the Stingers took a dominant 91-56 lead entering the Elam Ending, and Moon then took over with eight straight points. Baker finished the job with the winning lay up.
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