Stingers earn first-ever CEBL championship with 90-73 win over Fraser Valley Bandits
ST.CATHARINES — The 2020 Edmonton Stingers Redemption Tour is complete.
After a devastating loss at last year’s Championship Weekend, the Stingers made it their mission to finish the job this time around.
They not only got the job done — they made a big statement.
Xavier Moon set a CEBL Championship record 31 points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Travis Daniels added 14 points and eight rebounds, while Brody Clarke and Adika Peter-McNeilly chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively off the bench as Edmonton came through with a 90-73 victory over the Fraser Valley Bandits, Sunday afternoon at the Meridian Centre.
Junior Cadougan led the Bandits with 13 points and five assists in the loss.
“That feeling from last year was still so fresh in our minds, and that’s honestly what fuelled us the most,” said Moon, who hit the game-winning free throws in Elam Time to give the Stingers their first-ever CEBL championship title.
“I’m so happy we could do this together as a team. It’s such a surreal feeling, especially with the circumstances we’re all under, but I wouldn’t want to win a championship with any other group of guys.
“We knew coming into this tournament we were the team that was most together. Every shot we put up, every rebound, every steal we got, we all played together. This is the most-together team I’ve ever played on in my life.”
Edmonton’s only loss in the tournament came at the hands of Fraser Valley in their tournament opener and they wanted to make amends — but the Bandits weren’t about to back down.
Both teams went back-and-forth, as the Stingers held a slim 39-35 lead at halftime, but the Stingers didn’t mess around in the second half as they put up 51 points in the second half and led by as many as 19 to cement their title hopes.
The Stingers pride themselves on their depth and hard-nosed defence and that resonated all throughout the victory over Fraser Valley.
Edmonton dominated the paint, outscoring Fraser Valley 44-14 and they received 29 points from their bench.
“We have strength in numbers and when I make a sub, I don’t feel like we miss a beat out there. We have confidence with everyone in our group that they can contribute,” said Stingers head coach Jermaine Small.
“We used our size, and we’re fortunate to have three guys who can score in the post. We went to them, and they dominated the paint today.
“In the second half, our post play and our defence stepped up and our rebounding was key. We knew in the first five minutes of the second half, we had a chance to put them away, and we hit the kill switch and kept running it down their throat.”
It was a strong team-effort that led the Stingers to the championship, but it was a monumental performance from the reigning league MVP as Moon came up clutch with big play after big play.
“He’s become such a vocal leader for us,” said Small.
“In my coaching career, it was one of the best performances I’ve been apart of. Guys love playing with him and he’s so clutch. He makes so many timely plays.”
Moon shot an incredible 78% from the field (11-of-13) and was a dominant at both ends of the floor.
He hit a deep trey just before Elam Time to give Edmonton an 80-63 lead, and then he hit four clutch free throws including the game-winner.
“It’s one of the best games I’ve ever played overall. I knew I had to come out and be aggressive knowing that it was the last game, I had to put everything on the line,” said Moon.
“I give compliments to my teammates for believing in me and giving me that confidence to lead the best way I know how.”
When Moon hit the game-winning free throw, he stood still and took a deep breath as his teammates rushed to celebrate.
It was a moment he and his teammates won’t ever forget.
“I just stood there and I was thinking to myself, this is for my step-dad,” said Moon, who lost his step-dad in an act of gun violence in 2016.
“I told my mom I loved her before the game and I told her that me and the team we’re going to get this done for my step-dad. I know he’s proud of me, and I want to continue to make him proud.”(pr)