Another week is now in the books across the NBL, and there were some important results in D1M this past weekend. As always, here's a recap of all the action!
Solent's unbeaten season continued at pace this weekend as the Kestrels easily saw off Reading 110-78 in a rematch of last month's National Cup Final.
A triple-double of 23 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds from impressive guard Ian Smith was too much for the Rockets to handle, as MVP candidate Travis Charles finished with a team high 26 points. The might of Solent's American duo allowed the visitors to jump out to a 61-36 lead by the half before easing to a win after the break.
The Kestrels now have seven games remaining in their schedule, plus a game to rearrange on the road against Derby, before their regular season is complete. The loss for Reading sees the Rockets fall further into the mix between 4th and 8th, where two wins separate five teams in the race for post season places.
Solent began their weekend in equally impressive fashion as a 38-19 opening quarter helped the Kestrels to beat Bradford Dragons 120-78. Ian Smith was in fine form once again, finishing with a well balanced stat line of 18 points, six assists, five rebounds and five steals.
Happy to capitalise on Reading's defeat, Worthing took the opportunity to strengthen their claim for a shot at 4th spot with an impressive 92-64 home win over 3rd place Hemel Storm. The Thunder led post-to-post in that one, with youngster Cameron Hildreth once again impressive as he enjoyed a 26 point, 12 rebound double-double.
Another team making ground at the Rockets' expense was Loughborough as the Riders rose up to see off strugglers Westminster 89-74. Captain Reis Pinnock put on a real performance for the hosts, dropping 30 points that included 4/5 from range, adding 10 boards and 4 assists for good measure.
The standings remained unchanged at the bottom of the pile as all five of the division's bottom teams shared the same fate as Westminster. Essex & Herts Leopards couldn't make home advantage count as they went down 88-75 to Derby Trailblazers. Orlan Jackman's 26 point, 14 rebound double-double wouldn't be enough to save the Leopards as Derby pushed five different scorers into double digits, led by Johde Campbell and Malcolm Smith who both had 17.
Barking Abbey lost heavily on the road in Thames Valley, with the Cavs marching away to a commanding 113-67 win. American Taylor Johnson was once again in a dominant mood, dropping 35 points in a 13/15 shooting performance. BA had no answer, with talented young centre Theo Hughes top scoring with 15.
Leicester Warriors made short work of bottom side Liverpool as 34 points from T.J. Henderson were more than enough to pad out a 112-77 W. Victory keeps the Warriors in the playoff hunt, but they're still a pair of wins behind Bradford in the 8th and final post season spot.
The Dragons strengthened their hold on that 8th place thanks to the pick of the weekend's games on Sunday, sealing a dramatic 95-94 win over 10th place Nottingham Hoods. Jermayne Laing (23 points) and Rihards Sulcs (21 points, 12 rebounds) both played well for the Dragons but it was captain Ricky Fetske who would put Bradford up by a point as his layup hit with 7 ticks remaining. Demetrius Houston finished with a game high 28 points for the Hoods but he would have loved to finish just two points better off as his shot on the buzzer couldn't connect, leaving the Dragons with a hard-earned win by the narrowest of margins.
2:00pm - Loughborough Riders 89 - 74 Westminster Warriors - LIVE STATS
4:00pm - Leicester Warriors 112 - 77 Liverpool - LIVE STATS
5:45pm - Essex & Herts Leopards 75 - 88 Derby Trailblazers - LIVE STATS
6:15pm - Bradford Dragons 78 - 120 Solent Kestrels - LIVE STATS
6:30pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers 113 - 67 Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS
7:30pm - Worthing Thunder 92 - 64 Hemel Storm - LIVE STATS
Next weekend sees the calendar tick over to March and the start of the final month of the regular season. Six games take place on Saturday, headlined by Derby's trip to in-form Thames Valley.
Hemel will look to bounce back as they entertain Bradford, Loughborough play Leicester in a Midlands derby, Worthing travel to Westminster, BA head to Nottingham and there's a bottom v top affair as Liverpool welcome Solent.
On Sunday Reading take on Essex, Leicester battle it out with Solent and Loughborough complete their home double-header against Barking.
Main image credit - Luke Simcock