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Marlon Johnson scored the game-sealing shot, capping off a team-leading 27-point performance, as the defending CEBL champion Edmonton Stingers defeated the Hamilton Honey Badgers 91-87 on Saturday.
Edmonton looked every bit the part as the reigning league champions as they opened up the first quarter looking to make a statement.
A 12-5 run over a four minute period of time in the middle of the first quarter put the Stingers up 11 and catapulted them to a 30-15 lead at the end of the first.
The second quarter was not any better for the Honey Badgers as they struggled to figure the Stingers out.
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Edmonton steadily maintained its lead, eventually pushing its lead to 19 before the half, going up 49-30 and dominating the paint outscoring Hamilton 34-14 inside.
Hamilton did not let its disappointing first half play dictate how the second half would go though.
After the Stingers opened the half by pushing their lead to 21, the Honey Badgers went on a 7-0 run within a span of 53 seconds.
After an Adika Peter-McNeilly three ball for the Stingers, Hamilton went on another run, this time a 12-3 run, cutting the deficit to 6 with 3:31 left in the third.
Following a continuous trading of baskets from both sides, Edmonton closed out the third quarter up 67-59.
The Stingers opened the fourth with four straight points from Johnson, only for the Honey Badgers to answer back with a 10-2 run to bring the score to 69-71.
That was close as Edmonton allowed Hamilton to get until the Elam Ending, as the fourth quarter saw a continuous battle for the lead.
Going into the Elam Ending up 81-77, Edmonton managed to hold off the Honey Badgers, despite reigning Player of the Year Xavier Moon missing one of two free throws late that could have sealed it. After Hamilton failed to capitalize on its opportunity to come back, Johnson iced it with a contested floater off the backboard to seal it for the Stingers.
Moon finished with 25 points, six rebounds and 11 assists for the Stingers, in addition to Johnson's 27 points.
Lindell Wigginton led the way for the Honey Badgers with 30 points and nine assists on the day.
Hamilton will face the Saskatchewan Rattlers next on June 28.
Meanwhile, the Stingers will play the Niagara River Lions next on July 2.
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