SASKATOON, SK, June 27, 2019

On Thursday night, the Fraser Valley Bandits recorded the first win by a British Columbia based professional basketball team since the Vancouver Grizzlies defeated the Golden State Warriors on April 18, 2001. Thursday night’s game was played in front of a packed house at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon. The game was a tightly contested tilt between the Bandits and the Saskatchewan Rattlers, but ultimately, Fraser Valley was able to outlast the Rattlers 101-89.

Saskatchewan Rattlers vs. Fraser Valley Bandits at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, SK, June 27, 2019
Photo Electric Umbrella/Liam Richards

Hometown standout Marek Klassen (Abbotsford, BC) had his best game as a member of the Bandits, posting a double-double and providing steady leadership for the team. Klassen scored 18 points on 7- of-12 (53%) shooting and racked up 12 assists and four rebounds. “To me we don’t get that win without the character of our group. We’re playing like a team that’s 7-2 or 8-1. Without the character or leadership in that locker room, we don’t get that win,” said Head Coach and General Manager Peter Guarasci. “Every game, to know that we’re going to battle together, no matter what the record is, and that we will always fight – I can’t commend the team enough for that.”

Game Flow:

The Bandits entered Thursday’s night game determined to reverse their fortunes after an overtime loss at the hands of the Edmonton Stingers on Saturday, June 22. The Bandits got off to a hot start, jumping ahead 5-0 after Klassen hit a pull-up jumper. However, the Rattlers kept it close and made an early run of their own. Terry Thomas converted an and-one to give the Rattlers a 10-9 lead midway through the first quarter, but the Bandits responded with a 10-0 run that helped cushion an eventual 21-16 lead heading into the second quarter.

Recent signee Kevin Bercy (Kanata, ON) continued to mesh well with the Bandits, and showcased his physical play early in the second quarter by getting to the free throw line and hitting a pair of free throws and then sinking a three-pointer on the following possession to give the Bandits a double-digit lead 90 seconds into the quarter. Alex Campbell did his best to keep the Rattlers within striking distance by hitting a three-pointer at the 4:17 mark that reduced the Bandits’ lead to 28-26. With the Rattlers knocking at the door, two late three-pointers by Tyrrel Tate (Calgary, AB) and Jamal Ray (Texarkana, TX) restored a double-digit lead heading into half-time at 43-33.

The Bandits continued to fire on all cylinders in the second half. Klassen and Chris McLaughlin (Oakville, ON) showcased great chemistry off the pick and roll, which left the Rattlers struggling to defend on the switch after the Bandits got into the paint. A two-point jumper by Klassen followed by a trademark baby hook shot from Levon Kendall (Vancouver, BC) gave the Bandits a 61-48 lead with four minutes left in the third. Tavrion Dawson concluded the frame with a smooth three-point shot that cut the score to 69- 58 in favour of the Bandits heading into the fourth quarter.
With an 11-point lead heading into the fourth, the Bandits rallied together to ensure that the team didn’t suffer a late collapse. Three straight made free throws by Dawson trimmed the lead to 72-62, but that would be as close as the Rattlers would get. McLaughlin and Klassen responded on behalf of Fraser Valley with an and-one finish and a three-point strike that helped expand the lead once more. The lead grew to as large as 20 points before the final buzzer eventually sounded, sealing a historic victory for the Bandits, the first in team history.

“We have to turn this win into a string of wins and get this team rolling. We still got a whole second half of the season and we are ready to fight and show exactly what we’re capable of,” Guarasci said.

The Bandits return home to take on the Guelph Nighthawks at Abbotsford Centre on Thursday, July 4 at 7


(Photo and game details provided by the Fraser Valley Bandits)

Filed under: abbotsford, Basketball, Fraser Valley, FV Bandits