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Fraser Valley Bandits beat Hamilton, aiming for a late-season push for the playoffs

On Thursday night the Fraser Valley Bandits put up another win, a 98-75 contest at home against the Hamilton Honey Badgers and continuing a recent hot streak for the team.

A big part of it is the addition of Jelan Kendrick, who made his debut on July 4 in the Bandits’ first home win against the Guelph Nighthawks. While the team earned their first ever win the game before, the Bandits have gone 3-1 with Kendrick on the roster.

He’s been leaned on hard, playing 32 minutes a game, putting up 17.3 points per game.

“Adding a player of Jelan Kendrick’s calibre helped us immensely,” says head coach Peter Guarasci. “He’s a multi-dimensional player with a pretty high IQ, he can score when he needs to, he can make good decisions with the ball. He gives the whole group a bit of confidence. And the way he plays and the way he leads is through his play, unselfish play, it’s not through statistics.”

For Kendrick, it’s been a good fit.

“These guys welcome you with open arms from the beginning, and I’ve been so appreciative of that,” he explains. “This has been fireworks in a way. Know what I mean? I’m just happy to be a part of something that’s bigger than myself, and just coming in, these guys trust me to make plays.

“It’s amazing to be part of a beautiful program like Fraser Valley.”

Thursday night he once again led the team in points, putting up 22.

The game started out in more of a back and forth fashion, with Hamilton actually having the early advantage ending the first quarter with a 24-18 lead.

It was all Fraser Valley after that, however. A dominant second saw the Bandits put up 32 points to the Honey Badgers’ 17.

In the end, the Bandits fell just short of 100 points while holding Hamilton to 75.

“We’re growing as a team and I think we’re growing on the defensive end. We’ve had our big games, we’re really clamping down and holding teams to 75, 70 [points], that’s been the difference — being able to get stops and get out and run and let these guys make decisions in the open court, that’s been the difference,” says Guarasci.

“I think everything is coming together at a perfect time,” says Kendrick.

Next up is a road game against the team that’s given them the most trouble over this hot stretch. The Niagara River Lions are on the top of the league standings, and have given the Bandits their only loss in the previous five games, a 104-94 loss in Abbotsford.

“We’ve got a tough one against Niagara on their home court. That team you’re going to have to lock into defensive scout if you’re gonna hold them under 80 — it’s gonna be tough, but we just played them a week ago and it was a tough match and I think just keep it simple, just keep focusing on what we’re doing, get better on the defensive end and see what happens when we play,” says Guarasci.

Tipoff is 4 pm PST.

Written by: Austin Cozicar

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