Fraser Valley Bandits No. 5 Gentrey Thomas drives to the basket in front of a crowd of over 1,500 at Abbotsford Centre on Wednesday evening (July 14). The Bandits went on to win 92-71 over the Guelph Nighthawks. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Fraser Valley Bandits No. 5 Gentrey Thomas drives to the basket in front of a crowd of over 1,500 at Abbotsford Centre on Wednesday evening (July 14). The Bandits went on to win 92-71 over the Guelph Nighthawks. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

Fraser Valley Bandits take down Guelph Nighthawks 92-71

First pro sports team in B.C. to host fans since start of pandemic

The Fraser Valley Bandits had seven players score at least eight points as they took down the Guelph Nighthawks 92-71 Wednesday night (July 14) at Abbotsford Centre in front of fans for the first time since 2019.

The Bandits are the first pro sports team in B.C. to host fans since the start of the pandemic.

During the game, all five scorers – plus key reserves Malcolm Duvivier and Ryan Ejim – made large contributions to the scoreboard for Fraser Valley.

The balanced scoring effort has been a theme all season for the Bandits, as the team has only one player averaging over 12 points per game, but nine guys pitching in at least seven points a night.

“I thought everybody contributed, played their role well and I thought it was a team win,” said Fraser Valley head coach David Singleton after the game. “I was very happy with it. We shared the ball very well today.”

While Duvivier led the Bandits in scoring with 20 points on a hyper-efficient 7-10 from the field, it was Kenny Manigault who had the most impressive stat line.

The import forward dropped 14 points to go along with five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Manigault’s all-around play has been a major factor for Fraser Valley’s strong start.

RELATED: Fans returning to Abbotsford Centre next week

Brandon Gilbeck was also his usual terror around the basket, setting a new season high with six blocks on the night. Gilbeck continues to dominate the Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) in the blocked-shot category, even though he’s only seventh on his own team in minutes per game.

Unlike Fraser Valley, Guelph has been more dependent on its stars to score in order to stay in games. Unfortunately, the team’s three leading scorers couldn’t provide the offensive punch needed to compete with the Bandits.

Second-leading scorer Justin Jackson left the game three minutes into the action, while Cat Barber and Ahmed Hill combined for just 26 points on inefficient 11-35 shooting from the field.

“The effort’s there. We just have to clean up some things and I think we ran out of steam,” said Nighthawks’ head coach Charles Kissi.

There were some positive takeaways for Guelph, with core pieces stepping up and playing strong games. Guard Kimbal Mackenzie set a season-high mark with 14 points, while big man Chad Brown continued his torrid pace after he joined his squad later into the season, putting up 16 points and seven rebounds.

The win puts the Bandits’ record at 5-2, while the Nighthawks are at 1-5.

Up next for the Nighthawks is a trip to Saskatoon to take on the winless Saskatchewan Rattlers on Friday at 7 p.m. local time. After a brutal stretch of opponents to start the season, Guelph will look to get its momentum going.

The Bandits are back in action on Friday, July 23 at 4 p.m. local time against the 6-1 Hamilton Honey Badgers.

All CEBL games are available for livestreaming on the CEBL’s new OTT streaming service CEBL+, cbcsports.ca, the free CBC Gem streaming service, the CBC Sports App for iOS and android devices, and on Twitch.

RELATED: Fraser Valley Bandits lose first game of 2021 season

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