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Niagara River Lions' Ahmad picks up CEBL MVP and clutch player of year awards


GATINEAU, Que. — Khalil Ahmad, who scored 10 Elam game-winners for the Niagara River Lions, was named both most valuable player and clutch player of the year in the Canadian Elite Basketball League on Wednesday.

Ahmad, a 25-year-old from Corona, Calif., averaged a league-high 20.7 points and team-high 4.5 assists per game in leading the River Lions to a 13-7 record, second in the league. He shot 45 per cent from the field. 

The River Lions and Hamilton Honey Badgers led the season awards with three apiece. 

Ryan Schmidt was named coach of the year after guiding Hamilton to a league-high 14-6 regular-season record in his third season with the club. 

Hamilton guard Caleb Agada captured Canadian player of the year honours, averaging 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.1 steals in 19 games. Teammate Koby McEwan earned sixth man honours. The Weber State grad and Toronto native averaged 12.1 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in his first season as a pro.

Niagara's EJ Onu earned the year's best defensive player honours in his first season with the River Lions.  The six-foot-11 forward averaged a league-record 3.3 blocks per game in the regular season.

Thomas Kennedy, a forward for the Fraser Valley Bandits and the University of Windsor, was named the CEBL's top U Sports player after averaging 14.5 points on 63.6 per cent shooting from the field. Kennedy will return to the Windsor Lancers next season.

Award winners were determined by votes cast by the league's head coaches, general managers, assistant coaches, select league broadcasters, and internal media personnel.

The CEBL Final Four tips off Friday in Ottawa.

The Elam Ending, meanwhile, which was used in this past season's NBA all-star game, is meant to reduce the number of stoppages in the game's dying minutes. When the clock is stopped with four minutes or less in the fourth quarter of each game, a target score is set that is equal to the leading team’s score plus nine. If the game's score is 77-71, then it's the first team to 86.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press