Key road wins for Spinners, Dragons and Northumbria in D1M

Derby Trailblazers 98 v 99 Lancashire Spinners (After 1OT)

They needed a period of OT to pull it off, but Lancashire Spinners secured a huge boost to their D1M survival prospects Sunday with a 99-98 OT win over Derby. A season-high 31 points from Mark Rangeley was key for the Spinners, with the 26-year-old also hitting the game winner in the extra period.

Lancashire had the best of the early going, leading by as many as 15 as the 1st half wore on. Matt Ward-Hibbert and Maxwell Morrison helped to reduce that deficit as the 2nd half progressed and by the time the game was deep into the 4th quarter, it was Lancashire who were now trailing.

However, the Spinners dug deep to tie the game and send things into an extra frame. Neck and neck throughout, Rangeley popped up late to lay one in with 1.5 seconds on the clock and despite connecting on a full court pass to Maxwell, Derby’s final effort found the iron rather than the net as the buzzer sounded.

Rangeley’s 23 was added to by Jack Hudson, who also had 23 and Connor Murtagh with 18. For the Trailblazers, Ward-Hibbert top scored with 26, whilst Morrison added 24 points and 18 boards. Youngster Brian Amabilinio-Perez rounded out the top scorers with 14.

Mark Rangeley (red kit nearest ball) is sure to be a key man if Lancashire at to retain their D1M status - Alan Mousley/AGM Pics

Manchester Magic 51 v 61 Team Northumbria

A 30 point, 11 rebound double-double from American Malcolm Smith was enough to help current league leaguers Team Northumbria past rivals Manchester 61-51 on Sunday. The game was Magic’s lowest scoring performance of the season, dealing their title hopes a serious blow with 7 games to go.

In a low scoring affair dominated by defence, time and again the visitors forced the reigning champions to miss their mark from the field. Typical offensive mainstays Stefan Gill and Lee Goldsborough both struggled from the floor in an unusually disjoined performance from the hosts.

Team Northumbria and Smith in particularly didn’t have the same issues, edging the 1st, 3rd and 4th quarters to create a narrow lead that they wouldn’t surrender. Magic Coach Paul Middleton praised his opponents from the North East, conceding: “The better team won. They’re top of the league and there’s a reason for it. If they make us shoot 25% from the field then they deserve to win. That’s the bottom line.

American Duane Morgan’s 18 points for Magic proved to be insufficient in the end, Simon Anumba had 10 and Jack Minister added 8. Smith’s 30 was the difference though, with Northumbria teammates Lewis Champion and Siman Stewart adding 8 apiece.

Loughborough Student Riders 86 v 99 Bradford Dragons

Bradford did their hopes of securing a playoff spot no harm at all this weekend as they travelled to Loughborough to knock off a confident Riders side 99-86.

Dominating the start of each half, the Dragons were ahead by 9 after 10 minutes and despite a Loughborough fight back in the 2nd quarter, the visitors were still ahead 48-44 at the half. That lead increased again as Bradford forged ahead once more, leading by double digits at 70-56 with 10 minutes to go. A high scoring final frame entertained those in attendance, but the score line stayed in the visitor’s favour.

Dragons’ coach, Chris Mellor summed up his team’s performance by saying, “We came out with good intensity and I thought we controlled the game well at both ends. The fact that they played the day before was obviously to our advantage but it was a good team performance.

Sesan Russell top scored for the hosts with 17, Josh Ward-Hibbert had 16 and Reis Pinnock 12. The Dragons were able to lean heavily on Rihards Sulcs and Ricky Fetske as both players filled the stat sheet. Sulcs topped the scoring with 25, adding 10 rebounds and not to outdone, Fetske had a double-double of his own with 17 points and 10 boards. Marcus Gooding added 16 more for the Dragons in another solid performance.

Leicester Warriors 73 v 82 Reading Rockets

Using a fast 1st quarter to get ahead, Reading held their nerve throughout in this one to grab another valuable win in their hunt for the D1M title. The victory took their winning streak to 15, cementing 2nd place in the table along with it.

Up 26-14 after 10 minutes, the double digit advantage for the visitors would hold true until the very last play of the game. 33 points from influential big man Chris Hooper were coupled with 16 boards in another dominant display whilst versatile guard Craig Ponder added a useful 17 point, 7 assist and 5 steal stat line as well. Those individual efforts were more than enough to help the Rockets claim the 1st 3 quarters and build a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Rodney Sanders top scored for the hosts with 30, Pearson had 21 and Willan and Francis added 6 each as the Warriors continued their slide out of the playoff picture.

Reading Rockets 105 v 69 London Lituanica

The Rockets returned home 24 hours later and promptly hammered a listless Lituanica side 105-69. With their title challenge still very much alive, win number 16 of the Rockets’ current streak was secured in a take no prisoners manner reflected in the lopsided final score.

Racing out to an early lead, Reading strengthened their position quickly and by the end of the 1st they led 25-14. That lead extended to 14 after a steal and fast break conversion by Hooper and as the hosts turned the screw with some excellent team ball, the lead increased to 55-38 by the break.

Able to turn the game over to his bench later on, Reading once again embraced their youthful roster. Surrounding 25-year-old Juan Valerio with young talent in the 4th quarter, the Spaniard finished the game strongly for a team high 28 points. With the lead rising above 40, the hosts put on a show for the enthralled fans at Rivermead once again.

Valerio’s 28 was added to by Chris Hooper who put up his obligatory double-double of 24 points and 18 boards, adding 4 steals and 6 dimes for good measure. Craig Ponder added 14 more and 3 of Reading’s Academy players all reached double figures. Mantas Guzys was the lone pillar of resistance for Lituanica, he scored 29. Neverauskas had 19 and Kazlauskas 16 in support for the undermanned visitors.

Reading recorded another 2 wins this weekend to extend their streak to 16 on the season - Reading Rockets

Essex Leopards 58 v 64 Westminster Warriors

It took 139 days, but after starting their season with 17 straight losses, the Westminster Warriors got themselves into the win column with a 64-58 victory over Essex on Saturday.

A disaster of a result for Essex in their attempts to escape the D1M relegation battle, the Leopards allowed their visitors the best of things in the early going as the Warriors moved out to a 13-9 lead after 10 minutes. When a spirited 2nd quarter ended all square, Westminster found themselves in a position they had enjoyed more than once this season without converting; leading at half time. Trailing 29-25, the Leopards managed to reduce the deficit to 1 at 41-40 with 10 minutes to go. The Warriors wouldn’t be denied this time though, claiming the 4th quarter for a landmark win late in the season.

Johnson led the scoring for the Warriors as usual, he had an impressive 29 points. Lanning chipped in with a further 10. Bethune’s 13 points weren’t enough for the hosts, with Hitchman and Roberts adding 13 and 10 respectively.

Team Solent Kestrels 82 v 65 Essex Leopards

A bad day at the office became a poor weekend all round as the Leopards lost a 2nd game in as many days, falling to Solent 82-65 on Sunday.

Sensing they needed a result after their loss to Westminster, the Leopards started strong and managed to sneak ahead 23-21 by the end of the 1st thanks to 3 pointers from Lawson, Bethune and AJ Roberts. That lead would be surrendered early in the 2nd but a back and forth quarter with multiple lead changes meant that Coach Ogunjimi’s men were still firmly in the contest at the half, trailing 47-44.

Despite a break at the half, the 3rd continued as the 2nd had ended with both sides keeping in contact with each other in a game that was separated by a single basket for the most part. A Chris Scarlett deep ball as the 3rd ended provided a lead for the hosts at 65-62, but neither team knew what was coming in the 4th quarter. With 6 turnovers and an 0/13 shooting effort from the floor, the plug was pulled on the Leopards as they scored just 3 points in the final period. In a contest that was even throughout, the visitors’ struggles in the final 10 minutes gave the score line a one sided look.

Marquis Mathis top scored on 27, adding 12 rebounds for good measure. Jaylen Watson added 18 points, and Louie Kirkman and Jorge Ebanks both collected 10 each. AJ Roberts put up 21 in the losing effort, with veteran Perry Lawson adding 9 and Hayes 8.

Westminster Warriors 57 v 84 Leicester Warriors

Lightning couldn’t strike twice for Westminster Warriors as their efforts to string together wins for the 1st time this season fell at the first hurdle.

21 points from Leome Francis was enough to power the visitors to a win in each quarter of this contest, with Leicester moving into a commanding position by half time. 27-15 leaders after 1, further points by Kieran Mills and Rodney Sanders saw the lead grow to 49-29 at the half, a position that wouldn’t be surrendered in the 2nd half.

Francis finished on 21, with Mills on 19 and Sanders adding 13. For the Warriors, their top scorers were Johnson on 19, Ashley on 12 and Ekperuoh on 8.

Lancashire Spinners 64 v 79 Hemel Storm

Hemel utilised a stingy defensive performance to limit their opponents to just 64 points and grab a 4th win in a row on Saturday. 23 points and 15 rebounds (6 on offence) for Khapri Alston was more than enough to get the Storm over the line for another W.

The win was a tremendous effort by our entire squad,” said a delighted Hemel Head Coach David Allin. “All eleven guys got on the score-sheet but the foundation of the victory was an outstanding collective defensive effort. We set out to make things very difficult for their main scorers and managed to keep them well below their usual numbers.  Only once this season has Lancashire had a worse shooting percentage - I was really pleased with how we executed our game plan.

With the usually influential Mark Rangeley finishing on just 8 points, Jack Hudson was limited to 11 points and forced into 7 turnovers as the Storm game plan continued to work throughout. Despite allowing the visitors to build a 41-31 lead at the half, the hosts fought back in the 3rd and managed to get themselves back to within 7 as the quarter wound down. A 6-0 run by Hemel ended proceedings though and with the difference sat at 13, there was no way back for the Spinners as the game concluded.

Alston’s 23 was a game high, with Nik Rhodes scoring 11 and Carl Josey adding 9 more. With their usual production stifled, Murtagh top scored for the Spinners with 11, with Ulph and Hudson adding 11 to Mark Rangeley’s low key haul of 8.

Hemel's Wayne Yeboah had 5 steals against the Spinners this weekend, driving a solid defensive performance - Linda Titmuss

Loughborough Student Riders 68 v 75 Team Northumbria

Team Northumbria set themselves up for their Sunday win over Manchester by collecting a tough road win over Loughborough on Saturday, coming through 75-68 in a tight game. Malcolm Smith was once against the catalyst for Northumbria, collecting another 30 points to lead all scorers by a significant distance.

Trying to secure a spot in the playoffs, the Riders were right in this one for the majority of the game. Trailing by just a point at the half, the Midlands side then managed to secure a single point lead of their own by the end of the 3rd, up 54-53. That advantage wouldn’t last though as Northumbria’s quality came to the fore in the end, taking the 4th quarter by 6 for another valuable victory.

Smith’s 30 was impressive, whilst Lewis Champion added 14 and Siman Stewart 11. Levi Noel once again led the way for Loughborough, he had 14. Christofis had 12 and Roberts 10.

Worthing Thunder 70 v 95 Manchester Magic

It wasn’t all bad news on the weekend for Manchester as Sunday’s loss to Team Northumbria was added to a win they secured Saturday after a long trip down to Worthing. As the Thunder’s only game on the weekend, it was a tough result to swallow after a win for fellow strugglers Lancashire at the foot of the table.

Despite the result, it was an encouraging performance from Worthing as they went toe to toe with a superior side in the D1M standings, forcing them into 17 turnovers before falling away late. “We pressured Manchester as well as we could but in the end we didn’t make our opportunities count plus we ran out of steam in the fourth,” Worthing coach Daniel Hildreth said.

A 10-point game at the half with the visitors moving ahead 48-38, Manchester used an 8-0 run at the beginning of the 3rd to push ahead even further. A late surge by the hosts saw the Manchester advantage reduced back to 10, but a 13-0 response put the result beyond doubt.

20-year-old Simon Anumba led all scorers with 34, with his Manchester team mates Duane Morgan and Stefan Gill adding 17 and 13 respectively. The ever impressive Lyonell Gaines finished on 30, with Brandan Okoronkwo managing 11 points on his return from injury.

Derby Trailblazers 96 v 60 London Lituanica

Derby were another side enjoying life on Saturday, grabbing a win against a London Lituanica side in free fall. A 34-point outburst from Jake Wesselingh was a top-tier performance for the Trailblazers as they started their weekend in the best possible way.

Up 25-18 after 1 before pushing on to 56-30 by the half, things got out of hand from there on out as the hosts continued to pad the score with the lead nearing 30 by the end of 3. Eventually that mark was passed in the 4th as Derby time and again found a way to exploit their visitors.

Wesselingh’s performance was the highlight of the evening, with his 34 points being added to by Oliver Stanley who had 19 and Chris Taylor with 12. Mantas Guzys top scored for Lituanica with 18.