PLAYOFF REVIEW - Upset victory from Reading Rockets in WNBL, but all other top seeds safely through!

NBL Division One

 (1) Team Solent Kestrels 104 v 64 (4) Thames Valley Cavaliers 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 7.00pm

Live Stats

Team Solent Kestrels safely booked their spot in the NBL Division One playoff final with a dominant performance against the 4th seeded Cavaliers on Saturday night. The contest started out close, with the visitors trading baskets with the league champion Kestrels, before the hosts eased ahead for a nine point lead at the half. The two sides continued to trade baskets as the third quarter began, but an Elliott Dadds triple with just under six minutes remaining in the period sparked a 21-5 run the rest of the way as Coach Matt Guymon's squad blew the game open. With a 26 point advantage heading into the final stanza, this one was over as a contest, and the south coast hosts continued to pull away to lead by 30+ points for most of the final quarter. Ending the game on an 11-3 run, the Solent lead ballooned to 40 points as the final buzzer went, as the regular season champions punched their ticket to the season finale as they look to add post-season success to their league title. 

After impressive performances from US imports Travis Charles and Herm Senor II last weekend in the quarter-final, it was more of a balanced scoring effort from Coach Guymon's side against the Cavs. Charles had 21 points, five rebounds and four assists in just 25 minutes to pace his squad, while Elliott Dadds matched his effort with 21 points of his own, knocking down five triples and adding six rebounds and three assists in 22 minutes of action. Herm Senor II finished with a double-double of 15 points, 11 assists, two rebounds and three steals, while Nick Lewis contributed 15 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals off the bench. Captain Louie Kirkman chipped in 10 points and six rebounds, while Chris Scarlett came off the bench to hit a couple of triples to offer 10 points and two assists. The rough scoring night for Thames Valley was led by Abdoulaye Sylla's 24 points and eight rebounds, while Martelle McLemore finished with 17 points, three rebounds and four steals. Bernard Hehetro was the only other major contributor for Coach Robert Banks' side as he added 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists off the bench. 


 (2) Worthing Thunder 86 v 72 (3) Loughborough Riders 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 7.30pm

Live Stats

Worthing Thunder ensured that it would be the two top seeds in NBL Division One battling it out for the playoff crown in Manchester, as the Sussex-based squad used a ferocious late comeback to outlast a tough Riders performance. It was Worthing who edged early, building a quick seven point lead with a hot start to the game. With the Thunder sitting on a four point lead, Loughborough found their rhythm and sparked a 24-9 run either side of the first quarter break that gave them their largest lead of the contest midway through the second. Holding the advantage throughout the second and third stanzas, a late push by Worthing tied things up heading into the fourth, and the Thunder kept up that effort with a 14-2 run either side of the third quarter break. Now holding a seven point cushion of their own, Worthing ensured they could relax down the stretch with another 13-2 run that sealed the deal. With the two league title contenders now both having safely navigated the early stages of the post-season, Team Solent and Worthing will meet in the playoff final in Manchester, with the Thunder seeking to avenge the loss of a potential regular season championship. 

With Tom Ward once again missing from the Worthing the lineup, the short-handed Thunder squad were lead by 29 points and four rebounds from Alex Owumi, while Zaire Taylor had 28 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and five steals - stuffing the stat-sheet in his usual fashion. Jorge Ebanks added 15 points, two rebounds, four assists and three steals, while captain Brendan Okoronkwo chipped in six points, nine rebounds and three assists. Alex Roberts paced Loughborough with 22 points and seven assists, while Reis Pinnock added a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. Skipper Jonas Dieterich was the only other double digit scorer with 12 points, four rebounds and two steals, while the Riders got eight points, six rebounds and three steals from Hosana Kitenge on his return to his former club. 


WNBL Division One

 (1) Bristol Academy Flyers 52 v 71 (5) Reading Rockets 

Sunday 14 April 2019 - 12.00pm

Live Stats

In the shock of the weekend, Reading Rockets made incredible use of their lifeline in the WNBL Division One playoffs to take down the regular season champions in possibly the biggest upset of the post-season thus far. Having progressed to the semi-final stage in unusual circumstances after their loss against Loughborough was overturned, the Rockets headed on the road down the M4 as massive underdogs in this one, but led for almost the entirety of the contest in a performance that surely turned heads around the NBL. Reading started out hot and quickly had a nine point lead to start the game, but Bristol responded well and took their only lead of the contest with a 12-11 advantage when Becky Cantin dropped in a layup. However, the Flyers' success was short-lived as the Rockets responded with a 9-0 run to take their first double digit cushion of the game. With a 14 point lead at the half, the visitors extended their lead out to 20 points as they opened the third with back-to-back triples, effectively ending the contest despite a late run from Bristol in the fourth. After the successes of Essex and Team Solent in recent years, Bristol Academy Flyers find themselves as the first top seed in recent memory to not make it all the way to the season finale, further evidence of how impressive this result is from the Rockets.

Monica Herranz De Antonio led the way for the underdog Rockets with 25 points, six rebounds, four assists and five steals, while Anabel Latorre Ciria added a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Maria Angeles Valdeolmillos Gomez finished with 10 points and five rebounds, while Noa Sanchez Marques chipped in nine points, three rebounds and two assists. A rough offensive effort for Coach Gareth Till's side was led by 12 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals from Flo Ward, while Fiona Fox also hit double figures with 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks. Cristina Bigica was limited to just nine points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Hannah Wallace offered seven points and two steals. 


 (2) Anglia Ruskin University 86 v 76 (3) Team Solent Kestrels 

Sunday 14 April 2019 - 5.00pm

Live Stats

Punching their ticket to Manchester to defend the WNBL Division One playoff title that they snatched away from Essex last season, the Anglia Ruskin Rhinos made it through a tough contest against Team Solent with an impressive second half display. A cagey start to the game saw the two sides trading baskets, before Anglia Ruskin took the first real control of the game by finishing the first stanza on a 12-2 run. The Kestrels made their way into things in the second by trimming the deficit and even snatching the lead back at times, but the Rhinos led by three as the teams headed for the locker rooms. The decisive run from the hosts came in the third period, when Coach Michael Hanson-Morris' squad unleashed a 17-1 spurt to take a 19 point advantage. The road team were not down and out just yet, as Coach CJ Lee's side started the fourth on an 11-0 run to trim the lead to just eight, but an 8-0 response from Anglia Ruskin got the lead back into double digits - a cushion they would not relinquish as they game came to a close. 

Ilaria Zaffaroni led the Rhinos with 19 points and two steals in 20 minutes off the bench, while captain Katrin Hulme finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. Sofia Koutsourelaki flirted with a triple-double as she added 11 points, six rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Jazmin Gyulai contributed 10 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Nadege Talva matched Gyulai's output with 10 points of her own to go with five rebounds and three blocks, while Katarzyna Neininger had an important nine points, three rebounds and two assists off the bench. Geena Gomez ended her season on a high with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead the Kestrels, while Andrea Kurkowski supported with 13 points and four rebounds. Kristana Karpova had 13 points of her own in 16 minutes off the bench, while Earleesha Jackson rounded out the double digit scorers with 10 points and nine rebounds. 


NBL Division Two

 (1) Liverpool 80 v 63 (5) Myerscough College 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 6.30pm

Live Stats

After their upset victory over Sussex in the quarter-finals, Myerscough College just didn't have enough to keep a dream playoff run alive as the young academy side saw their season end at the hands of the dominant league champions Liverpool. Aside from the visitors scoring the first points of the afternoon via a Bradley Kaboza layup, Liverpool lead for entirety of this contest as the regular season top dogs booked their spot in the post-season finale to add more silverware to an unbeaten league campaign. Having traded baskets over the first few minutes, Coach Delme Herriman's side knuckled down on defence to end the first stanza to go on a 14-1 run as they built a 15 point lead to end the period. With a solid effort through the second quarter that led into a good start after the half-time break, Coach Neal Hopkins' squad were able to trim the deficit to four points behind a 9-0 run out of the locker rooms. Liverpool would respond with numerous pushes to regain their advantage, as their lead grew back to a 15 point cushion heading into the final stanza. Rayon Brown trimmed the lead to 12 at the start of the fourth, but Liverpool replied with a 10-2 that all but ended any hopes of a comeback and ensured the Merseysiders safely progressed through the North West derby into the championship game.

Liverpool big man David Ulph led the way with a dominant double-double of 24 points, 19 rebounds and two assists, while Mark Rangeley added 18 points, four rebounds and six assists. Uche Umekwe chipped in 16 points and eight rebounds, while Jack Hudson flirted with a quadruple-double after an all-round effort of 10 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and eight steals. Rayon Brown paced Myerscough with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists, while Bradley Kaboza finished with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. David Walsh also hit double figures with 10 points and three rebounds off the bench, while Callan Low was kept to nine points, four rebounds and three assists. Sanmi Fajana came off the bench to offer eight points and four rebounds, while star guard Mate Okros notably exited the game early due to injury after just six minutes of action with two points and two rebounds to his name. 


 (2) Westminster Warriors 77 v 75 (3) London United 

Saturday 13 April 2019 - 5.30pm

Live Stats

In the closest contest of this weekend's semi-final action, Westminster Warriors outlasted a strong second half comeback from the visiting United squad to book their spot in the NBL Division Two season finale, after late game heroics from Justin Hitchman and Tosin Oyelese. This 2nd vs 3rd battle started off close, with both teams taking their turn at holding the lead early on, before a strong start to the second stanza gave Westminster the edge. Having built an 11 point lead, the Warriors saw their advantage trimmed to just a single point, but rallied to lead by five at the half-time interval. A long scoreless stretch to start the second half saw both sides go without a basket for four long minutes, before Johnathan Lashley broke the stalemate with a jumper that put the Warriors up by seven, sparking a 16-7 spell for the hosts as they gained a 14 point edge.

Not down and out by any means, Coach Daniel Szatkowski's side responded with a 20-6 run that spanned the third quarter break - bring the visitors back on level terms with just under five minutes to play. Juan Manning and Yonathan Napoleon traded triples, before a Johnathan Lashley dunk later gave Westminster a 74-73 lead. Napoleon stepped up once again by icing two free throws at the line to give United the 74-75 edge with 1:57 on the clock, but Justin Hitchman came up with a crucial layup to give the Warriors the lead once again at 76-75 with just 1:43 remaining. Misses from Napoleon and Hitchman at either end on the next couple of possessions were followed by turnovers from Napoleon and Philip Lartey, meaning the score stayed put right through to the final stages. United called timeout with 37 ticks to play, but Westminster incredibly forced a shot clock violation, which meant Kevin Szczawinski had to foul to send Tosin Oyelese to the line with three seconds on the clock. The first one swished through to give the Warriors a 77-75 lead, but when the second one rimmed out Napoleon secured the rebound but was unable to get a shot off before time expired - Westminster clinching their second finals appearance of the season, and a third over the past two campaigns.

Pacing the Warriors on the day was Juan Manning who led with 26 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Johnathan Lashley supported with 15 points, three rebounds and two steals. Player-coach Jon Johnson chipped in 14 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two steals, while late game hero Justin Hitchman finished with seven points and six rebounds. Yonathan Napoleon led United with 24 points and five rebounds off the bench, while Daniel Szatkowski offered 17 points, three rebounds and three assists. Big man Marius Talijunas rounded out the double digit scorers with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Afra Khalil and Tomas Butrimas chipped in eight points and seven points, respectively. 

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A massive thank you to all of our supporters today who helped us get through a really tough game Vs @londonunitedbc... the game went to the wire with Warriors only winning by 2pts 77 - 75. . . We are going to the final dance with @lbcbasketball in manchester on the 27th April. . . Special mentions to @stylez_j who was spinning some tunez and keeping everyone hype and @mercedesmoss who has been snapping some great 📸 since forever (we will share them) and ofc everyone who helped with the presentation of the NBL Division 2 Runners-up plaques especially @juljoseph. . . Also, Special shout-outs need to go to @mrjmanning who top-scored in today's fixture with 26pts, 6rebs, 2stls and 1 (very key) block in the bottom of the 4th. . . Hopefully you guys can join us in Manchester, if not look out for the live feed from @bballengland which we will post the link to when it is available. Thanks 💚 #GREENBLOODED

A post shared by @ westminster_warriors on Apr 13, 2019 at 1:18pm PDT


Around the NBL Playoffs

Division Three Men

 (S1) London BC Medelynas 99 v 90 (N2) Team Derby Spartans 


 (S4) Essex Blades 69 v 81 (S2) Team Solent Kestrels II 


Division Two Women

 (S1) Thames Valley Cavaliers 59 v 64 (N2) Derby Trailblazers (OT) 


 (N1) Nottingham Trent University 70 v 60 (N3) Worcester Wolves 


Division Four Men

 (SE2) London Thunder Lewisham 98 v 68 (SE1) Chelmsford Lions 


(SW1) Bristol Hurricanes 103 v 73 (N2) Doncaster Danum Eagles 

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What a great win !!! 💪🏼 #bristolhurricanes made all way to final🥁🏀 See you in Manchester boys !! 🔥

A post shared by Bristol Hurricanes (@bristolhurricanes) on Apr 14, 2019 at 3:07am PDT


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