Nine exciting games populated week 22 in D1M, as Team Solent Kestrels moved two wins closer to their perfect regular season an Essex & Herts Leopards grabbed a valuable road victory in their quest for survival. As always, here's a recap of all the action as we move another step nearer to the playoffs.
Spoils from this weekend's Midlands derby went the way of home team Loughborough following a 70-57 win for the Riders.
21 points from the ever-entertaining T.J. Henderson kept the Warriors afloat in a low scoring contest, but with no other Leicester player able to make it to double-digits, the visitors weren't able to seriously threaten. David Forsyth double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds led the way for the hosts, with Riders' captain Reis Pinnock scoring 11 points to go with a useful seven rebounds and five assists.
The margin of victory could, and perhaps should, have been more comfortable for Loughborough as they led 58-35 going into the 4th before easing off down the stretch.
Team Solent Kestrels can claim the D1M regular season title as soon as next weekend after a pair of wins in week 22. On Saturday the Kestrels went to Merseyside and thrashed basement side Liverpool 138-72 thanks to another triple-double from Ian Smith, who had 16 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. On Sunday it was Leicester's turn to face the unbeaten league leaders with Travis Charles' 31 points powering the visitors to a 107-95 victory.
The most entertaining game of the weekend was in Uxbridge as Derby Trailblazers outlasted Thames Valley 133-122 after a period of OT. Derby's Malcolm Smith used the extra time to pour in a game high 35 points, Taylor Johnson played all 45 minutes for the Cavs for a huge 25 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assist stat line that would eventually be in vain.
Relegation threatened Westminster couldn't utilise home advantage to beat Worthing Thunder, going down 107-87 thanks in part to 32 points from Thunder's Cam Hildreth. Time is running out for the Warriors to pick up points before the end of the season, and following this weekend their losing streak has now hit 15 games.
Westminster will have taken some solace that fellow strugglers Barking lost both their games this weekend, with a narrow 79-72 defeat on Saturday against Nottingham followed by a 73-59 loss in Loughborough on Sunday. Delaney Powell had an impressive 27 points for the Hoods, with Reis Pinnock top scoring for the Riders with 16.
Essex & Herts Leopards secured a huge two points in their fight for D1M survival as they beat Reading Rockets on the road 97-91. The result required a period of OT to separate the teams, but Elvisi Dusha's 34 points proved too much for the hosts to overcome. It was Dusha's triple that tied the teams up 86-86 with 76 ticks remaining on the clock, but neither team could connect the rest of the way before the Leopards claimed the W in overtime.
Hemel Storm strengthened their case for a top four finish with a 105-82 win over Bradford Dragons. Mike Williams went 5/9 from range to finish with 21 points, tacking on 11 rebounds and six assists, delighting the home crowd and cancelling out a 24 point, 14 rebound double-double from Bradford captain Ricky Fetske.
2:00pm - Loughborough Riders 70 - 57 Leicester Warriors - LIVE STATS
5:00pm - Liverpool 72 - 138 Team Solent Kestrels - LIVE STATS
5:30pm - Westminster Warriors 87 - 107 Worthing Thunder - LIVE STATS
6:30pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers 122 - 133 Derby Trailblazers (1OT) - LIVE STATS
6:30pm - Nottingham Hoods 79 - 72 Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS
7:00pm - Hemel Storm 105 - 82 Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS
3:00pm - Leicester Warriors 95 - 107 Team Solent Kestrels - LIVE STATS
3:30pm - Loughborough Riders 73 - 59 Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS
5:00pm - Reading Rockets 91 - 97 Essex & Herts Leopards (1OT) - LIVE STATS
Just three game weeks remain between now and the end of the regular season, with a whopping 13 games filling next weekend as teams scramble to complete their schedules.
On Saturday, Essex can take another step towards safety as they head to bottom side Liverpool, whilst Leicester entertain Worthing and Derby host an exciting match up against Reading.
Elsewhere, leaders Team Solent put their unbeaten record on the line at home to in-form Loughborough, Westminster need a win against a visiting Bradford Dragons, and Nottingham Hoods take on Thames Valley.
On Sunday, the majority of the league are in double-header action, headlined by Solent's trip to Hemel. Essex have another winnable contest at home to 10th place Nottingham, and Thames Valley play Loughborough.
Reading travel north to Bradford, Westminster go up against 9th place Leicester, Derby take on Barking and Liverpool entertain Worthing.
Main image credit - Paul Phillips/Essex & Herts Leopards
18 Jan 2021