Murphy Burnatowski scored 27 points and Thomas Kennedy added a career-high 18 points with nine rebounds as the Fraser Valley Bandits defeated the Saskatchewan Rattlers 90-78 in their home opener on Saturday in St. Langley, BC
In what was a tightly-contested game through three quarters, it was the Bandits who proved to be too much, outscoring the Rattlers 21-11 in the final frame with Burnatowski and Kennedy combining for 16 of them.
“It’s fate. I was telling everyone around me, this is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in front of,” Kennedy said post-game. “So to do it in front of the home crowd and get a big win like that, and to have some personal accolades, it’s huge.”
Both sides had met just three days prior, with the Rattlers (2-2) taking the victory on home court, Fraser Valley (3-1) set out to capitalize on its chance to take top spot in the league.
The opening frame of the game went back and forth as both teams got into an offensive rhythm with little time wasted. Neither team got out to a lead larger than six, as the Rattlers led by no more than four and the Bandits by six.
Down 24-22, Malcolm Duvivier put Fraser Valley up by one with a contested buzzer-beating three to close out the first quarter.
🚨Buzzer Beater Alert 🚨
Malcolm Duvivier beats the clock to close out Q1 and give @FVBandits the lead
In the second, Burnatowski flipped a switch, scoring Fraser Valley’s first nine points of the quarter, including five within a 7-0 Bandits run that put them up 36-29 at the 6:39 mark.
Fraser Valley was able to maintain that lead despite Saskatchewan cutting the deficit to as little as two, going into the half up 51-46. In addition to Burnatowski’s nine, Kennedy also pitched in seven points in the frame.
“Every game, it’s going to be a different member. Just got to stay ready and when you’re open, be ready to knock them down,” said Burnatowski who had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting at half.
The Rattlers found some momentum to build off, as they got it done defensively and kept the lead from increasing to any more than four through the first five and a half minutes.
At the 4:32 mark, things got heated between Rattlers forward Jordy Tshimanga and Bandits’ Maxie Esho following a block by the former.
With players from both teams jumping in to help de-escalate the situation, and both sides coming apart, Tshimanga was ejected, while Esho received an unsportsmanlike foul.
Following the scuffle, Saskatchewan seemed to have gained a boost, going on an 8-0 run to go up 62-56 for their first lead since the opening frame.
The run woke the Bandits up as they found themselves fighting to prevent the Rattlers from building too much momentum. Fraser Valley, after being down 65-58, closed the quarter on an 11-2 run to go up 69-67 heading into the fourth.
That energy carried over for Fraser Valley as they completely took over the fourth, holding Saskatchewan to just five points prior to the Elam Ending while scoring 12 of their own. A 6-0 run from the Rattlers that cut the lead down to 87-78 in the Elam Ending proved too little, too late as Burnatowski closed the game on a three-pointer.
Saskatchewan was led by Malik Benlevi’s 18 points, with Tony Carr scoring 15, Scottie Lindsey contributing 14 and Devonte Bandoo pitching in 12 points.
Fraser Valley will next play the Hamilton Honey Badgers on Tuesday at 2 pm ET. The Rattlers’ next game will also be against Hamilton, on Friday at 7:30 pm ET. Both games will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem.