Bandits Fall To River Lions

Photo Credit Andrew Savory,

It’s great to get caught up on various sports in the area and one other that is making waves in the area are the Fraser Valley Bandits.

We recently received the following game note from Andrew Savory, Marketing and Communications Manager for the club and we appreciate their input.

The Fraser Valley Bandits fought hard and pushed the Canadian Elite Basketball League’s top team, the Niagara River Lions, to the brink, but were unable to close out a tight game on the road, losing 80-71.

Levon Kendall (Vancouver, BC) put in work on both ends of the floor, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 (50%) shooting from the field while also collecting 14 rebounds (four offensive) in a double-double performance.

Head Coach/GM Peter Guarasci told the media “The River Lions proved yet again tonight that they are a force to be reckoned with. We put forward a good defensive performance, but ultimately we need to do a better job of executing down the stretch.”

He continued “Despite the loss, I’m proud of the defensive effort we put forth tonight, and we will come together to rebound next week against a gritty Saskatchewan Rattlers team.”

The Bandits entered Saturday’s game fresh off a big 98-75 win against the Hamilton Honey Badgers last Thursday.

With their offence firing on all cylinders, the Bandits faced a tough test in the River Lions, who entered the game with an undefeated record at home. 

Fraser Valley looked out of sync offensively to begin the game, falling behind 13-2 in the first three and a half minutes of the game after Trae Bell-Haynes hit a three-pointer in support of a double-digit lead for the River Lions. 

The Bandits responded with a run of their own, however, as three-pointers by Ransford Brempong (Thornhill, ON) and Jamal Ray (Texarkana, TX) late in the quarter reduced the score to just 24-23 in favour of Niagara.

Fraser Valley took the lead early in the second thanks to some solid ball movement. Clint Robinson (Montego Bay, JA) finished off a nice dish from Joel Friesen (Abbotsford, BC) to pad a 32-26 lead, but Niagara punched back and proceeded to close the quarter on a 19-8 run to restore a 47-40 lead entering half-time.

The third quarter was characterized by a defensive stalemate. Both teams’ defences dug-in and did a great job of closing out on shooters and providing help defence. 

The Bandits and River Lions scored a combined 25 points in the frame.

With the game in the balance in the fourth quarter, the Bandits made their final push at pulling off the upset. 

A three-pointer by Friesen at the 7:59 mark gave Fraser Valley a slim 61-58 lead but a dunk by Guillaume Payen-Boucard a minute later gave Niagara the lead once more. 

The Bandits would get as close as 70-69 after a quick trigger corner three by Jelan Kendrick (College Park, GA) cut the score to 70-69, but the River Lions pulled away late and sealed an 80-71 win. With the win, the River Lions improve to 12-3, while the Bandits fall to 4-11.

Fraser Valley’s next game is against the Saskatchewan Rattlers this Thursday, July 25, at Abbotsford Centre.