The Edmonton Stingers are bringing another championship to town after winning the Canadian Elite Basketball League Summer Series title on Sunday.
The Stingers defeated the Fraser Valley Bandits 90-73 in the championship game at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., with guard and tournament MVP Xavier Moon aptly hitting the game-winning basket.
Edmonton was up 81-63 when the Elam Ending was brought into effect, turning the game clock off with 3:13 left to play and setting the target score at 90. Moon was fouled with the Stingers up 88-73 and calmly knocked down the two free throws to give his team the win.
“I just stood there and I was thinking to myself, this is for my stepdad,” Moon said. “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 stepdad. I know he’s proud of me, and I want to continue to make him proud.”
Moon’s stepfather, Elbert Clyde Wilson, was shot and killed outside of his home in Alabama on April 20, 2016.
“He’s become such a vocal leader and he can dominate a game in so many different ways,” Stingers coach Jermaine Small said of Moon. “In my coaching career, it was one of the best performances I’ve been a part of. Guys love playing with him and he’s so clutch. He makes so many timely plays.”
The entire Summer Series was played under Elam Ending rules, which attempts to eliminate the late fouling by trailing teams in an attempt to stop the clock and extend the contest.
Junior Cadougan had 13 points for Fraser Valley, while Marcus Capers had 12 and Mark Klassen 11.
Last season, the Stingers finished second in the CEBL standings, but were upset in the league semifinal by the eventual inaugural champions Saskatchewan Rattlers.
“That feeling from last year was still so fresh in our minds, and that’s honestly what fuelled us the most,” Moon said. “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.”
Edmonton finished the round-robin portion of the tournament with a 5-1 record, losing their opening game to the Bandits and then running the table to claim top spot and get an automatic bye into the semifinal.
They defeated the expansion Ottawa BlackJacks 88-75 on Saturday in the semifinal with Moon hitting a three-pointer to clinch the victory.
Against the Bandits, things were tight through the first quarter as Fraser Valley took a 15-14 lead in the first 10 minutes. The two teams shared the lead through the second, but a pair of free throws from Peter-McNeilly and a layup by Daniels gave Edmonton a 39-35 halftime lead.
In the second half, the Stingers went on a 14-8 run to take a 10-point lead and were able to maintain the advantage through the rest of the third to go into the final quarter up 65-56.
The Bandits were able to cut the deficit to five points in the fourth quarter, but Small called a timeout to calm his team down and they responded, taking an 18-point lead into the Elam Ending.
“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,” Small said. “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.”
Edmonton was able to get the nine points they required in short order and Moon went to the foul line needing to sink both his shots to end the game and cue the championship celebrations.
“We knew coming into this tournament we were the team that was most together,” Moon said. “Every shot we put up, every rebound, every steal we got, we all played together. We did a great job of buying into what coach Small was preaching. This is the most-together team I’ve ever played on in my life.”