By: Eli Silverstone
The fifth season of the Canadian Elite Basketball League will come to an end with an anticipated championship game between the Scarborough Shooting Stars and the Calgary Surge on Sunday in Vancouver.
The Eastern Conference #3 seed Shooting Stars will look to finish the job after losing last year's CEBL title game in a heartbreaking two-point loss. Their opponent will be the Western Conference #1 seed Surge who had an extremely successful inaugural season in the CEBL.
How they got here: Calgary Surge
Led by a three-headed scoring attack of Sean Miller-Moore (16.5 points per game), Simi Shittu (15.5 PPG), and Stefan Smith (15.5 PPG), the Surge went 12-8 in the regular season and locked up the first seed in the West. They handled the Edmonton Stingers easily in the quarter-finals before a close semi-final game against the host team, the Vancouver Bandits. Stefan Smith dropped a game-high 25 points and eight rebounds in a 77-75 win to send the aptly named Surge to the final.
How they got here: Scarborough Shooting Stars
The team owned by Drake and businessman Niko Carino had another successful season in the CEBL, now having made it to the finals in both years they’ve been in the league. This year's team is led by Cat Barber, the all-time leading scorer of the CEBL. The shifty guard averaged 20.1 PPG and 4.8 assists while the dominant Kyree Walker averaged 12.6 PPG on 50% shooting. The Shooting Stars beat the Hamilton Honey Badgers in the first play-in game handily and then won close matches against the #2 seed Ottawa Blackjacks and #1 seed Niagara River Lions to clinch a spot in the championship game.
What to know
The CEBL plays with an Elam Ending similar to the NBA All-Star Game. Once there is a stoppage of play in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, a target score is incorporated. The target score is equal to the leading team’s point total, plus nine. This results in a unique way to competitively finish the game where teams don't have to worry about time running out.
In last year's final, the Shooting Stars were trailing 89-71 and the target score was 90. Scarborough went on a 17-0 run before narrowly losing 90-88 to the Honey Badgers. The Shooting Stars will likely need to maintain a much closer game coming into those fateful final four minutes, especially against a Surge team that shows no signs of being an easy take-down.
Will Scarborough overcome their demons and get the win? Or will Calgary raise a trophy in their first season? The answer comes tonight.