Ipswich started the weekend with a loss to a strong Kent side, but it would ultimately be a successful weekend when all was said and done. This one was a tight game throughout before the highflying Crusaders managed to slip away in the 4th quarter to seal another win in their bid for promotion and a potential shot at the D2M title.
With Leigh Greenan scoring 20, Tom Sadler 18 and John Shodipo 19, there was plenty of quality on show from both sides for the home crowd and despite the low totals it was a competitive game throughout. Tied at 20-20 after 1 and with Kent up 38-35 at the half, it was Ipswich who had the better of things to start the 2nd half as they led 50-48 with 10 to go but couldn’t hang on and grab a win.
"Today we did well to win" Kent Head Coach Lloyd Gardner said. "It wasn't a great performance from us and it's a difficult place to come and get a win. We did a good job at getting through some adversity which I was pleased with."
Tom Sadler scored 18 for Ipswich but couldn't help his side get past Kent on Saturday - Pavel Kricka
It wasn’t all bad news on the weekend for Ipswich though as they claimed a victory over London Greenhouse Pioneers on Sunday. An even contest after 20 minutes, the visitors used a dominant performance in the 2nd half to comfortably pull away in this one.
Holding their opponents to just 22 2nd half points, Ipswich were able to turn the screw and stretch out a sizable lead as the game progresses. Leigh Greenan was once again the focal point on offence and dropped 23 but that should distract from the clinic that Ipswich were able to put on defensively.
A loss on Saturday for Ipswich meant another chance for London Westside to strengthen their grasp on 4th place but those aspirations came unstuck against a Charlton-Jones inspired Tees Valley Mohawks.
Prone to the occasional offensive explosion, American Jones absolutely took this one over and finished with 47 points. Despite that output, the London side were largely in control of the game throughout and particularly so after a strong 32-14 1st quarter. The Mohawks responded in kind for a 49-45 Westside lead at the half and the hosts then stretched their lead up to 10 after 3. That set the stage for a dramatic comeback as the travelling Mohawks stunned the local crowd and left town with both points in this one.
Still no doubt suffering from the outcome of their game Saturday, Westside hit the road for an encounter with the Eagles in Doncaster and came off 2nd best once again, dropping another winnable game by a narrow margin.
In this one the script was flipped for Westside as they were the team getting off to a slow start and trailing after 1 before needing to mount a comeback in the 4th. They nearly pulled it off as well, outscoring Danum 20-13 in the final frame but ultimately they fell just short. Matt Martin was the man for Doncaster, he finished with 22.
A Sunday win for Doncaster was vital after dropping their relegation battle to Liverpool on Saturday. The Merseyside team were able to enjoy a double boost from this game though, claiming a valuable 2 points as well as securing the head-to-head tiebreaker over Doncaster in the process.
After an even 1st, the teams traded shots in the 2nd and 3rd before the hosts managed to pull away in the final quarter. Andre Gayle had another impressive showing for Liverpool, collecting 24 points.
With both teams currently tied on 12 points, the two sides have been inseparable in their battle to avoid the D2M trap door. Whilst results this weekend didn’t do much to split the teams, the head-to-head is now settled and that could prove crucial in the grand scheme of things.
Andre Gayle has been a standout for Liverpool this season, despite being aged just 21 - Liverpool
Any momentum that Liverpool may have gained from their win over Doncaster was well and truly erased by Kent as the Crusaders hammered their opponents on Sunday. Perhaps feeling leggy from their efforts 24 hours earlier plus a long trip to Kent, Liverpool started well in the early going but quickly fell away and didn’t score more than 10 points in any of the remaining quarters after the 1st.
Dan Akin and Tim Shodipo both enjoyed the demolition, collecting 19 each whilst Amin Adamu added 18 more. No Liverpool scorer made it into double digits, Chiz Onoura had the most with 9. This loss plus Doncaster’s upset of London Westside meant that it is still tight at the bottom of D2M with all to play for in the battle for survival.
"I was pleased with the way we played as a group today, I thought it was better," Kent Coach Lloyd Gardner said. "We shared the ball. Our defensive execution was good, we played with good energy. The main thing we talked about coming in was being unselfish, sharing the ball, and I thought we had an excellent game for that. A good spread of scorers, we made the extra pass and that's what I was most pleased with."
2 wins on the weekend by Kent could have meant trouble for current leaders Team Newcastle but the North East side rose to the occasion and handled both their fixtures with ease. A top vs bottom clash with Newham ended in expected fashion as 30 points from Richard Austin and a win in all 4 quarters meant an easy victory come the final buzzer.
17 points from veteran pair Lukas Volskis and Dean De-Freitas-Smith offered some resistance from the visitors but it was never likely to be enough.
Richard Austin was in great form this weekend, dropping 54 points over Newcastle's 2 games - Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos
A different opponent at Sports Central brought the same result on Sunday as Team Newcastle continued their imperious form to record an 18th win on the season. Richard Austin was once again in red hot form as the American scored 24 points to go with his 30 from the day before.
The Arrows were behind in this one early, trailing 28-11 after 10 minutes and 53-27 by the half. The visitors did manage to claw back some pride in the 3rd by reducing their deficit by 7, but it was more of the same from Newcastle in the 4th as they closed out the win.
With just 2 games left on their season, Team Newcastle will be D2M champions if they can win out. Easier said than done though, the 2 fixtures are @ Thames Valley on 19th March and vs Kent on 26th March.
With 2 wins at the top for Kent and Newcastle, Thames Valley ensured that the standings were unaffected as they strolled to a couple of wins on the weekend themselves. First up was a home tilt with London Greenhouse and the Cavs made short work of the local rivals thanks to 22 points from Martelle McLemore.
Holding the visitors to 15 points in the 1st 2 quarter, Thames Valley scored at will to build a useful 49-30 lead by the half. That increased by the end of the 3rd though despite 28 points from Mark Reynolds for London and in the end the Cavs won at a canter.
Another straight forward win for the title aspirations of the Cavs, this defeat condemned the Neptunes to relegation as Doncaster’s win against Westside means that NASSA now can’t finish outside of the bottom 2 in the division.
Still, Newham’s future was of no concern to Coach Banks and his side jumped ahead in this one early. Up 32-15, the basement side had no answers and 23 points from Martelle McLemore was more than enough to decide this one as the Cavs continued to pull away.
In a fixture that could go a long way to deciding the late playoff seedings, Killamarsh crashed to an 6th successive defeat on Saturday and as close to a potential spot in the relegation places as they are to the 8th spot in the playoffs. The victory pushes the Hoods up into 6th and they now have a strong chance of booking a post season berth with just a couple of games left on the season.
Continuing to get a boost from David Watts, Nottingham dominated this contest with 3 strong quarters before taking their foot off the gas in the 4th. Still, with just 10 minutes to go they were leading 72-38, meaning they were never in danger here.
Taking the momentum from Saturday’s win over the Arrows, Nottingham returned home, limited Charlton Jones to just 23 points and came away with another valuable 2 points.
Once again rallying behind David Watts, Delaney Powell chipped in with 16 as the hosts slowly pulled away from their opponents as the game went on. Powerless to stem the drip of points, the Hoods never provided Tees Valley with a route back into the game before the final buzzer sounded.