The Saskatchewan Rattlers took down the host Guelph Nighthawks 98-86 Saturday evening.
Saskatchewan took control of the game right from tip-off and went on a 7-0 run to start the game. Guelph’s Myck Kabongo answered with a three-ball, but it was quickly matched by a three from Saskatchewan’s Jelane Pryce.
By the midway point of the first quarter, the Rattlers led the Nighthawks 16-8. The game went back and forth, with both teams exchanging punches and the score never increasing to more than 10.
At the end of the first quarter, the visiting Rattlers led Guelph 24-17.
The second quarter action began with a foul committed by Rattler Gentrey Thomas, sending Aaron Redpath to the charity stripe for three shots. Another shot made by Ezekiel Marshall narrowed Saskatchewan’s lead down to just two points, but a Tavrion Dawson three extended it back to five.
Just a minute later, the visitors were able to string together a 9-0 run, pulling ahead by 14 points. Guelph answered with two points, but the Rattlers were able to maintain their lead thanks to hot hands from Marlon Johnson and Gentry Thomas.
After the second buzzer, Saskatchewan led Guelph 57-42.
The Rattlers started the second half right where they left off, with Marlon Johnson slamming down a dunk to increase the lead to 17. A dunk from Marshall matched Saskatchewan, but Tavrion Dawson soon nailed a hook shot, bringing the lead again to 17. Joel Kindred of the Nighthawks knocked down a shot from deep, capping off a dramatic first minute of the third quarter.
The lead fluctuated in size but never left Saskatchewan’s hands for the remainder of the quarter. Another dunk and an alley-oop slam from Marlon Johnson kept the Rattlers ahead, along with a three-ball from Thomas to end the quarter 81-64 in favour of the visitors.
The final quarter played out very similar to the previous 30 minutes. The home team was able to narrow the Saskatchewan lead, but only slightly as the high-flying Rattlers won by 12, defeating Guelph 98-86.
Leading the way for Saskatchewan Saturday night was Marlon Johnson, whose 21 point performance was highlighted by vicious slams and alley-oops.
Filling in for Terry Thomas, newcomer Gentrey Thomas made an impression in his first game as a Rattler, dropping 17 points off of the bench. Tavrion Dawson and Bruce Massey were also factors offensively, as they combined for 34 points and 10 assists.
Improving to 5-3, the Rattlers will now travel to Abbotsford for a meeting against the 0-6 Fraser Valley Bandits on Thursday.
After losing their fourth game in a row, the Nighthawks will head to Niagara for a match against the league-leading River Lions on Friday.