REVIEW - Late game heroics from Bradford bring Solent's unbeaten run to an end!

NBL Division One

 Team Newcastle 70 v 74 Barking Abbey Crusaders 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

Despite having had an impressive November of play, Coach Ian Hewitt’s side fell short this weekend at home to the visiting Barking Abbey Crusaders who break their two-game loosing streak going into the Christmas break. The win gives the now 4-7 Crusaders a better chance of avoiding a relegation spot as well as hope of closing the gap on a future potential playoff position. The game was close throughout with the visiting side holding the lead for most of the first half. The Crusaders found themselves trailing the North-East side going into the fourth quarter before a big three pointer from Tautvydas Mieliauskas tied the game with just under five minutes left to play. Having gained momentum, Nathaniel Powell followed with a dunk to give his side the lead which Team Newcastle couldn’t recover from.

Nathaniel Powell could not be stopped for the Crusaders as he produced and impressive double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds whilst going 8-9 from the field and lead all scorers on the night. Teammates Johnathon Brown and Chris Feeney also helped seal the victory with 17 and 13 points respectably. For the home side, Ben Seipt lead the way with 17 points and 7 boards, whilst Onyekachi Nzerem and David Hanson both scored in double figures with 14 and 13 points a piece.


 Leicester Warriors 87 v 80 Nottingham McDonald's Hoods 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

Having found their taste for victory last weekend against the Barking Abbey Crusaders, the Leicester Warriors extended their winning total to three on Saturday with a surprise victory over their East Midlands rivals, the eighth-placed Nottingham McDonalds Hoods. Despite the end result, the game was far from close with the Warriors getting off to a commanding double digit lead in the first half which they managed to maintain throughout the majority of the game.

Hoods' Coach Ryan Westley was understandably frustrated after the game, "We weren’t good enough on the day. We couldn’t match Leicester’s intensity and they swept us away at vital times. I’ve got to take responsibility myself as coach and re-evaluate how we can move forward over Christmas."

Coach Karl Brown’s side were led to victory once more by another monster performance from recent signing Raphell Thomas-Edwards, who spread the stat sheet with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Marytn Gayle also had a strong performance with 21 points and 5 rebounds. For the visiting Hoods, Cole Welle led the way with a massive double-double scoring 22 points and grabbing 17 boards, whilst teammates Delaney Powell and Kieran Wright both contributed double digits with 12 and 13 points respectably.


 Reading Rockets 101 v 86 Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Coming off a solid win last weekend, the home team Reading Rockets continued their winning streak and climbed their way into the top 5 on Saturday with a high-scoring win over the visiting Loughborough Riders. The win gives the Berkshire side great momentum going into the break, which Coach Alan Keane will look to build on in the new year. The Rockets got off to a convincing double-digit lead in the first half, and paired with a strong performance from Captain Danny Carter in the second half, helped propel the Rockets beyond reach of Coach Mark Jarrams side, who’s four-game winning streak is now broken.

On the recent news that this season will be Captain Danny Carter’s last for the Rockets, the big man showed on Saturday that he intends to go out with a bang. Carter had 25 point in this one, grabbing 6 rebounds and shooting 70% from the field. His teammate, Trae Pemberton, assisted with another strong scoring contribution dropping 25 points and shooting 70% from beyond the arch. For the visiting East Midlands side, the Riders were led by Niall Harris who knocked down 22 points off the bench, whilst regular standout Reis Pinnock had another solid game with 14 points and 9 rebounds.  


 Thames Valley Cavaliers 97 v 80 Essex Leopards 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 6.00pm

Live Stats

The Thames Valley Cavaliers continue to surprise NBL Division One as they continue their successful debut league campaign with another win on Saturday, this time over Coach Thomas Bakers’s Essex Leopards. The win puts them in the top four at the start of the new year, whilst the Big Cats remain near the bottom of the table. The two teams exchanged the lead during the early stages of the game before the Cavaliers pulled away with a convincing margin in the third quarter that continued to grow until the end of the game.

Coach Robert Banks side were guided to victory by some strong performances from their starters, with Abdoulaye Sylla leading the way in scoring with 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. It was a relatively ‘quite’ performance from regular stand-out Martelle McLemore who had just 18 points on the night, whilst big man Elliott Defreitas continued his domination inside with 25 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. The visiting Big Cats were led by import Asante Sandiford who contributed 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, whilst British teammates Lee Hodges also had a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Luke Mascall-Wright added 17 points.



 Bradford Dragons 86 v 83 Team Solent Kestrels 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 6.15pm

Live Stats

Christmas came early for the Bradford Dragons on Saturday as they took down the undefeated Team Solent Kestrels in emphatic style with an unbelievable last second prayer shot from Rihards Sulcs to give his side the victory, and solidify their place within the top four of the table going into the break. The game was nail bitingly close throughout, and literally came down to the final seconds where Rihards Sulcs monster 30-point performance was signed off with two huge plays in the last seconds of the contest. Sulcs not only hit the game tying three pointer with two seconds left to give his team a chance to stay in the game, but then hit a turnaround prayer shot off an inbound play to win at the buzzer.

Having recovered from the excitement of the last-gasp win, Dragons' coach Chris Mellor commented, "It was an excellent performance from everybody, with an absolute crazy finish. We defended and rebounded well, and I was pleased with our offensive tempo the whole forty minutes.

"It looked an impossible task, three down, to win in regulation time with just four seconds remaining, but Rihards had other ideas and that was just amazing."

As well as hitting the big shot, Sulcs lead all scorers and rebounders on the night with a huge double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds. Teammates Andreas Lycoudis also added 18 points and 7 assists whilst Jermayne Laing contributed 13  points respectably. Nick Lewis had the best game for the Kestrels in this one, dropping 25 points and snatching 7 rebounds off the bench whilst recent Player of the Month, Herm Senor II had 19 points and shot 70% from the field. Travis Charles also had a strong performance in this narrow defeat with 17 points and 5 rebounds.


 Hemel Storm 110 v 85 Manchester Magic 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 7.00pm

Live Stats

Manchester Magic continued their struggles this weekend with another loss to the home team Hemel Storm in a battle at the bottom of the table. With both teams holding just one win each before the match-up, Coach Robert Youngblood’s side were the ones that emerged with their second victory of the season. Despite a close first quarter, second chance points and turnovers allowed the Hertfordshire side to pull away with a commanding double-digit lead going into the second half that the visiting Magic couldn’t recover from.

It was a strong team scoring effort for the Storm with five players scoring in double digits on the night. Point Guard Bode Adeluola led the way for his side with an efficient effort across the board, dropping 18 points, grabbing 6 rebounds and dishing out 9 assists. Big man Leome Francis also had a strong scoring performance with 16 points, whilst Jack Burnell added 14 points off the bench. For Coach Simon Fisher’s losing side, scoring was few and far between despite a monster double-double effort from Forward Richard Bell. The big man couldn’t be stopped in this one as he gave his side 33 points and 9 rebounds off the bench whilst going 3-3 from the three-point line and shooting 72% from the field. Johnathon Barnes and Daniel Pilkington each added 10 points respectably.


 Worthing Thunder 89 v 91 Derby Trailblazers 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 7.30pm

Live Stats

The Derby Trailblazers bounced back from a home loss last weekend with a surprise narrow victory on the road against a tough Worthing Thunder team that currently sit in second place in the league tables. Coach Matt Shaw’s side now improve their record to 6-4 going into the break which will put them in good standing for playoff position at the start of the new year. The game was close throughout however, the Thunder found themselves down double-digits in the fourth quarter. Despite making a comeback to cut the lead to 2 points with just under minute left, the south-coast side couldn’t get over the hump in this one.

"I was absolutely delighted with that performance," admitted Coach Shaw. "It’s a huge win on the road for us, because this is always such a tough place to come to and win a basketball game. Although it was pretty high-scoring game, I actually thought we did a pretty good job defensively. We tried to limit their guys as much as possible and I thought we challenged their shots very well. We were also better on the glass than we’ve been in recent weeks.

"Malcolm [Smith} was once again outstanding. He continues to find ways to keep the scoreboard ticking over and also produced a lot of assists against Worthing. Matt [Ward-Hibbert] also hit some big shots and to have him back was a big boost. I thought it was Benson’s [Arogbo] best performance of the season. He really gave us a boost defensively but also made some big plays on offence," he added.

Import Malcom Smith continued his streak of dominating the stats sheet as he led all scorers on the night dropping 29 points, grabbing 7 rebounds and sharing 5 assists whilst shooting 73% from the field. His efforts were accompanied by teammate Mathew Ward-Hibbert who contributed 20 points and also Benson Arogbo who had 15. Coming off a 34-point performance last weekend against the Manchester Magic, Alex Owumi continued his impressive scoring efforts as he led his team with 24 points as well as grabbing 6 boards. Zaire Taylor struggled from the filed but finished with an impressive double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds as well as snatching 3 steals. Captain Brendan Okoronkwo returned to the Thunder on Saturday giving his side 16 points on the night.


 Reading Rockets 90 v 101 Essex Leopards 

Sunday 16 December 2018 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

After an impressive win on Saturday the Rockets couldn’t hold off against the visiting Essex Leopards side who were hungry for a win after losing to the Thames Valley Cavaliers the day before.  Despite being a close game, the Big Cats gained the lead early on and maintained it throughout to give Coach Thomas Bakers side the victory and their third win of the season going into the Christmas break.

Leopards' big man Lee Hodges was pleased to see his team bounce back, "We went into this weekend with the intention of taking two victories and cementing a place outside of the bottom two," said the seven-footer. "After a disappointing performance on Saturday it was key that we re-grouped and played well on today.

"I think we did a great job of putting Saturday behind us and getting the job done away to a tough team in Reading. We have shown once again we can hang with anyone in Division One when we play as a team and with energy. We now go into the Christmas break of the back of a win which is important for momentum after the break."

The Big Cats' captain Sam Newman is looking for consistency as they attempt to move up in the league after Christmas, "After a bad performance on Saturday, getting a tough road win sends us into the break nicely" he said.

"As we look to the New Year we need to start consistently stringing together some wins and keep playing as a unit."

Three players for the Leopards scored at least 20 points on the night with Lee Hodges contributing a massive double-double of 24 points and 16 rebounds. Captain Sam Newman added his own efforts by dropping 24 points and dishing out 7 assists, whilst Luke Mascall-Wright contributed an impressive 22 points. For the home side, Trae Pemberton led the way with 25 points whilst AJ Carr added 22 points and captain Daniel Carter added a solid 15 points and 8 rebounds.


WNBL Division One

 Team Solent Kestrels 65 v 45 Sevenoaks Suns II 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 3.00pm

Live Stats

Team Solent Kestrels head into the Christmas break with a win over the Sevenoaks Suns II this weekend. The Kestrels grabbed the lead an early on which they continued to build on as the game progressed and proved too much for the young visitors.

Kestrels' Coach CJ Lee said, "This is a great finish to the first half of the season, as everyone stepped up in the absence of some key players. Great work for helping us to close out the mid-way point in second position. Today represented a solid performance in terms of composure and disciple - combining that with a surprise win for Loughborough Riders at Anglia; we're in a great position moving into January."

"I've said this many times, I don't think we've performed anywhere close to the level we're capable of, and I hope everyone takes the next couple of weeks to recharge their emotional batteries in readiness to make a strong run towards the playoffs," Coach Lee added. "We have tons of talent and many players desperate to prove themselves. Ultimately, I'm in search of just one thing... us playing our best 'TEAM' basketball come playoff time!"

Earleesha Jackson led the way for the wining side with a huge double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds, whilst teammate Geena Gomez added an impressive 18 points and 8 rebounds. Katie Bennett carried the load once again for the visiting Suns as she dropped a respectable 19 points and grabbed 7 boards in the defeat. Teammate Ellie Hutchinson also added double-digits with 11 points, whilst Olivia Partridge crashed the glass grabbing a team high 11 rebounds.


 Bristol Academy Flyers 68 v 44 Barking Abbey 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 3.30pm

Live Stats

Bristol Academy Flyers continue their reign at the top of the WNBL standings with a win over the visiting Barking Abbey side this weekend, extending their record to 8-1. Coach Gareth Till’s squad showed a strong defensive effort to force turnovers in this one that led to his side establishing a strong double-digit lead in the first half that Barking Abbey couldn’t recover from.

Cristina Bigica led all scorers in the game with 17 points off the bench for her winning side, whilst teammates Hannah Wallace added 12 points and Mai Zilbeti and Fiona Fox both added 11 a piece. The visitors struggled to find scorers with only one player in double-figures at the end of the contest; Lilly Annim gave her side 11 points and 8 rebounds. 


 Southwark Pride 68 v 71 Team Birmingham Elite 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

Team Birmingham Elite got their first win of the season this weekend with a victory on the road against Southwark Pride who fall out of the top four into fifth place in the league standings heading into the break. Coach Robin Hall’s side found themselves down as much as 16 points in the first half before an impressive second quarter performance from Lucy Buxton helped pull the score even by the start of the second half. Birmingham Elite then found themselves down once more in the fourth quarter until making a late comeback to tie the game with 18 seconds left. Sandra Hewakowska then stepped up at the line to give her side the final lead of the game and victory for the visitors.

Lucy Buxton led the way with all scorers on the night with an impressive 30 points whilst shooting 82% from the field. Sandra Hewakowska also scored in double figures with 18 points shooting 70% from the field and Rebecca Brindley added 11 points for the visitors. For the home side, Jade Guidolin Duncan was top scorer with 22 points, whilst Amelia Sande was the only other player in double figures with a respectable 18 points.


Anglia Ruskin University 72 v 73 Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 4.00pm

Live Stats

After booking their place in the National Cup Final last weekend with a victory over the Team Solent Kestrels, the Loughborough Riders continued their wining ways this weekend with a victory over Anglia Ruskin who sit directly above them in the league tables. The Riders kept things interesting with yet another case of late game heroics. A late turnover from the Rhinos with 20 seconds left allowed Loughborough’s Megan Jones to step up once more when her team needed her and hit a crucial 2-point jump shot to give her team the one point victory.

Imogen Cook led the way for her Riders side with 19 points off the bench whilst Holly Winterburn added an impressive double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Megan Jones who came up clutch with the late game winner also contributed double digits with 11 points respectably. For the home team Rhinos, Katrin Hulme led all scorers on the court with 24 points whilst her teammates Jazmin Gyulai and Barbara Gonzalez Palacios both added 13 points apiece.


NBL Division Two

 Sussex Bears 68 v 64 Derbyshire Arrows 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Sussex Bears were able to extend their winning streak to two games as they pinched a close one on their home floor with a dominant fourth quarter comeback. An even opening stanza saw the Arrows hold a single point lead after the first quarter, before a tied low-scoring second quarter ended with the visitors leading 32-33 as the teams entered the locker rooms. Derbyshire jumped ahead in the third behind a 15-24 quarter, but the Bears came storming back down the stretched. Defence got the job done in the final stages for Coach Gary Smith's side, as they held the Arrows to just seven points in the final stanza, scoring 21 of their own to take the narrow victory. 

Cordaris Townes continued his impressive play after securing Player of the Week last week, as he led all scorers with 29 points for the Bears. Luke Moore added 11 and Jasper Chiwuzle chipped in 10 to complete the double figure scorers for Sussex. Meanwhile, Joseph Baugh had 25 points to lead the charge for Derbyshire, as Matt Wilson contributed 12 and Naphtali Nembhard finished with 9. 


 Westminster Warriors 107 v 85 London United 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 5.30pm

Live Stats

Coming off a loss last week to Liverpool, the Westminster Warriors get back to wining ways this weekend with a victory over fourth place London United, extending their record to 7-3 in the league tables going into the break. The Warriors shot the lights out in this game, going 61% from the field as a team and shooting 63% from beyond the arc to seal a convincing victory.

Justin Hitchman led all scorers on the night with 32 points for the Warriors, whilst teammate Juan Manning added an impressive 22 points and 8 rebounds. Johnathon Lashley also banged home a solid 18 points and 7 rebounds. For the visiting London United side, Tomas Butrimas led the way with 20 points and 9 rebounds whilst Dovydas Rudik attempted to help share the load with 15 points.


 Ipswich 77 v 95 London Greenhouse Pioneers 

Saturday 15 December 2018 - 5.30pm

Live Stats

Despite heading into the game refreshed from having no game last weekend, Ipswich suffered a defeat at home this weekend to Coach Predrag Krneta and his visiting London Greenhouse Pioneers. The Pioneers now extend their record to 7-2 and are tied in second place with the Westminster Warriors, whilst Ipswich remain of the edge of a playoff spot falling to 3-6 in the competition.

Kyle Diaz led the way for the Pioneers with an impressive 26 points on the night, whilst Captain Mariano Lussenhoff contributed a solid 18 points and 8 rebounds and Theo Deleligne finished with a big double-double of 17 points and 13 rebounds. For the Suffolk side, Eivydas Aleksa led his team in scoring with 18 points whilst teammate Ethan Price gave a respectable effort in his sides defeat with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds.


 East London All Stars 99 v 94 London Westside 

Sunday 16 December 2018 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

In the final game of the NBL Division Two weekend, the East London All Stars extend their record to 4-5 with a close win at home over the visiting London Westside who were hungry for a win going into the break.  Westside came close to closing the gap in the final stages of the game, being down just 2 points with 30 seconds left before falling short to coach Dave Greenaway’s home side.

Johnathon James led the way for the wining side with 30 points whilst teammate Aaron Badibo contributed 21 points off the bench. James wasn’t the only 30 point scorer in this contest however, as Levi Edwards gave his London Westside team an impressive 30 points to match. Other notable contributors for the losing side were Adedo with 18 points and Santiago Leon with 16.


Junior National Cup

After an exciting couple of weekends of semi-final action, the matchups are now set for the Junior National Cup finals in January! 


Under 16 Girls National Cup

The final of the Under 16 Girls National Cup will be contested by Nottingham Wildcats and Sevenoaks Suns, who each grabbed victory this Sunday in differing fashions to punch their tickets to Essex.

Nottingham booked their spot with a nervy two-point victory over Richmond Knights, in a game that went right down to the wire and eventually ended 59-61 in favour of the East Midlands side.

Meanwhile, Sevenoaks earned their shot to play for the Cup title with a commanding 69-27 win over London Feltham Warriors. The reigning Under 16 Girls playoff champions will hope to add another piece of silverware to their trophy cabinet, but the Wildcats will provide a stern test in January.


Under 16 Boys National Cup

In the Under 16 Boys National Cup semi-finals, there was a re-match of last year's final played down in Crawley, as beaten finalists Sussex Storm played host to reigning Cup champion Northern powerhouse Manchester Magic. The game was played out in front of a packed house at Holy Trinity School, as the Storm faithful spurred their team on to a 72-54 victory. 

In the other semi-final, Oaklands Wolves travelled into the capital to face Baltic Stars London, as a high-scoring game eventually went the way of the hosts. After pouring in 36 points in the opening stanza, Baltic Stars built a solid lead and never looked back as they punched their ticket to Essex, in front of their own raucous crowd at NewVIC. 


Under 18 Women's National Cup

The Under 18 Women's National Cup saw just one game of action decide the finalists, as scheduling conflicts allowed Charnwood College Riders to progress by virtue of a walkover.

However, the one game that did take place was an exciting affair as Reading Rockets Academy came up big on the road to take down reigning Under 18 Women's playoff champions Southwark Pride 62-68 as they booked their place in the final. The appearance in the final at the Essex Sport Arena in January will be the Rockets' Under 18 Women's first in a National Cup final, an historic day for the club!

Reading Coach Blai Benlloch recapped an exciting win, "The game was tied for nearly all of the first 35 minutes, but with just four minutes to go Southwark took a six point advantage and our girls needed to dig deeper and ignite the Rocket in them."

"In the final minutes Rockets hit a couple of key triples and played some of the best defence we had played all game to hold the opposition to very few tough moments for them. Our thanks go to Coach Jackson [Gibbons] and his always impressive team, the Rockets are honoured to take our place in the final in January."


Under 18 Men's National Cup

Finally, in the Under 18 Men's National Cup, Haringey Hawks spent this weekend awaiting confirmation of their opposition after booking their place in the final a week ago. The Hawks defeated Myerscough College in a game where they jumped out to an early lead, and held off a strong second half comeback from the Lancashire-based side to eek out a 74-72 victory. 

The game which would determine Haringey's opposition saw Sussex Storm head on the road, a day after their Under 16 Boys home triumph, as they made their way to the John Madejski Academy to face Reading Rockets Academy. The visitors took an early, only for Reading to battle back in the second as the game headed into the half with the hosts up by one. The third quarter was all Sussex, who led by 13 at times, but Reading had another gear in the final stanza. The Rockets were able to book their spot in a first National Cup final in over ten years with a 29-11 final quarter that left the visitors reeling as they went down 88-78. 

On a day where the Rockets had done the double and seen both their Under 18 Men's and Women's teams book spots in the finals, Coach Ben Fisher was full of praise for his squad, "I am so proud of the group and the way they never gave up. We have a real resilience in this team and that showed later in the game even when we were 13 down. The guys deserve this win so much and I am so pleased we get a chance to compete in a national final."


Junior National Cup Finals Schedule

10:00am - Under 16 Girls - Sevenoaks Suns vs Nottingham Wildcats

12:15pm - Under 16 Boys - Baltic Stars London vs Sussex Storm

2:30pm - Under 18 Women - Reading Rockets Academy vs Charnwood College Riders

4:45pm - Under 18 Men - Reading Rockets Academy vs Haringey Hawks


Do you want to catch the Junior National Cup Finals action at the Essex Sport Arena on Saturday 19 January 2019? Grab your ticket here!


For full Scores & Schedules from this weekend's action, click the link below: