It was an intense game between the Winnipeg Sea Bears and the Saskatchewan Rattlers, both teams were evenly matched, but it was Winnipeg that came out victorious.

For the second game in a row, Jelani Watson-Gayle scored the game-winning shot with a free throw against the challenging Prairie team. The first time was when the Sea Bears went up against the Vancouver Bandits for the second time this season last week Tuesday.

With a 96-93 victory over Saskatchewan, Winnipeg is now 4-1 in the season and now sits second in the conference.

"The free throw line, by yourself, is just a mental game," says Watson-Gayle in a post-game interview. "Every time I shoot, I tell myself that it’s going to go in before it does." 

Sea Bears head coach Micahel Taylor praises Watson-Gayle for his preparation and ability to succeed on the court.

"Jelani is really important for us. He’s a dynamic playmaker. He plays with a lot of confidence, and his confidence comes from his hard work and preparation," says Taylor.

The Rattlers and the Sea Bears are the top two scoring teams in the CEBL, with Saskatchewan leading with an average of 93 points per game compared to Winnipeg's 91.

Much of this is thanks to each team carrying their own shooting superstars. Teddy Allen and Justin Wright-Foreman are the league's two leading scorers with averages of 23.8 and 26.7 points per game.

Because of this, neither team could form a large gap between the other and there were 13 lead changes throughout the game.

The level of intensity in the new rivalry also picked up in the second quarter, when Simon Hildebrandt and Michael Nuga were called for unsportsmanlike fouls after fighting for a rebound under Winnipeg’s basket.

"I think it’s just good and healthy competition, they’re a good, well-coached team, it’s part of the game and emotions flared," says Nuga.

Rattlers' Drake Jefferies found a groove and scored four three-pointers in the third quarter, giving them the lead, but Winnipeg retook the leading spot by four points as they entered target score time.

Throughout the target score time, the Sea Bears were in control but a three-pointer from Wright-Foreman brought the Rattlers within one point.

It wasn't until the rival guard fouled Watson-Gayle who was going in for a lay-up that the game would see an end. Watson-Gayle sunk both free throws earning the victory for Winnipeg.

"We’ve been really focusing on our execution in target score time," says Coach Taylor. "Today guys came in with a real sense of purpose and focus. I think we did a really good job defensively causing turnovers and creating tough shots."

Winnipeg and Saskatchewan finished with the same number of rebounds (41), a near identical field goal shooting percentage (45 per cent for Winnipeg, 46 per cent for Saskatchewan), and a difference of just two turnovers in the game (12 for Winnipeg and 14 for Saskatchewan).

The Sea Bears and Rattlers will face off again on June 23 in Winnipeg.

In the meantime, the Winnipeg Sea Bears will return home from a successful road trip tonight against the Edmonton Stingers.