Team Solent Kestrels sealed their 2nd straight NBL D1M regular season title with two wins this weekend, keeping their unbeaten streak alive in the process. We've got a full recap of all week 23's action, starting with our Game of the Week.
Thames Valley took a big step towards securing the #2 seed in the D1M playoffs following a hard-fought 96-83 win against Loughborough.
Despite playing on the road, Loughborough ended the 1st quarter up 31-25, thanks in part to the efforts of captain Reis Pinnock, who would finish with a team high 21 points.
The Cavs fought back though, creating an even contest that could have gone either way. That parity ended in the 4th however as the hosts blew the game open, taking the frame 26-11 to create a final score that didn't reflect the even nature of the majority of the game.
Hakeem Sylla was once against in top form, dominating the Riders to finish with 33 points and 19 rebounds, as American Taylor Johnson added another 19 points to the Thames Valley cause.
Thames Valley started their weekend in style, putting on a show for our NBL Live cameras as the Cavs saw off Nottingham Hoods 111-95. Taylor Johnson and Hakeem Sylla both had double-double performances for the visitors, with Demetrius Houston top scoring for the Hoods with 22 points. If you missed any of the action, you can re-watch that game using the link at the bottom of this page.
Team Solent Kestrels sealed the regular season title as they grabbed a pair of wins this weekend. 27 points from Ian Smith helped the Kestrels past Loughborough 93-86 on Saturday, though that was a 1 point game heading into the final quarter before the hosts pulled away. On Sunday Coach Guymon's side went to Hemel and grabbed another two points, coming out on top 106-89 thanks to another 33 points from Smith.
Essex & Herts Leopards came out of week 23 as big winners, grabbing a narrow but highly valuable 99-96 win against Liverpool on Saturday before a 127-95 victory against Nottingham on Sunday. The win over the Hoods was powered by an incredible 26 point, 20 rebound, 10 assist triple-double from recent signing Orlan Jackman, who along with the Leopards' other January additions appear to have Coach Baker's side on the road to D1M safety.
Worthing Thunder also enjoyed a successful weekend as they scraped a close 84-83 win away to Leicester on Saturday before hammering Liverpool 150-70 on Sunday. With so many points on offer for the visitors in that one, it was no surprise to see some impressive stat lines for the Thunder. Cam Hildreth collected the pick of the bunch to finish with 45 points, including 6-8 from deep, to go with seven assists and seven rebounds.
Derby were another side with plenty to celebrate as wins against Reading and Barking helped push the Trailblazers up to 3rd spot in the table. The 104-97 W over the Rockets was powered by 33 points from Malcolm Smith, with Sergio Gomez stepping to the fore on Sunday to score a team high 18 points as Derby saw off relegation threatened Barking Abbey 82-60.
It wasn't all bad news for the Rockets though, as they bounced back from Saturday's defeat to beat Bradford 86-63 on Sunday, with Leome Francis recording a double double of 19 points and 10 boards.
It was another tough weekend for D1M strugglers Westminster though as a pair of losses and results elsewhere have further heightened the Warriors' relegation fears. Saturday's 83-97 loss at home to Bradford came courtesy of a 22 point, 17 rebound double-double from Dragons' captain Ricky Fetske and on Sunday the Warriors fared no better, losing a close one 93-87 against Leicester.
3:00pm - Leicester Warriors 83 - 84 Worthing Thunder
5:00pm - Liverpool 96 - 99 Essex & Herts Leopards - LIVE STATS
5:30pm - Westminster Warriors 83 - 97 Bradford Dragons - LIVE STATS
6:00pm - Team Solent Kestrels 93 - 86 Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS
7:15pm - Derby Trailblazers 104 - 97 Reading Rockets - LIVE STATS
7:30pm - Nottingham Hoods 95 - 111 Thames Valley Cavaliers - LIVE STATS
3:00pm - Liverpool 70 - 150 Worthing Thunder - LIVE STATS
3:30pm - Essex & Herts Leopards 127 - 95 Nottingham Hoods - LIVE STATS
4:15pm - Bradford Dragons 63 - 86 Reading Rockets - LIVE STATS
4:15pm - Derby Trailblazers 82 - 60 Barking Abbey - LIVE STATS
4:30pm - Westminster Warriors 87 - 93 Leicester Warriors - LIVE STATS
5:00pm - Hemel Storm 89 - 106 Solent Kestrels - LIVE STATS
6:00pm - Thames Valley Cavaliers 96 - 83 Loughborough Riders - LIVE STATS
Just two weeks remain of D1M action, but there are a few midweek games still scattered across the schedule before all is said and done.
Next Saturday presents Essex with another opportunity to move closer to D1M safety as they entertain Barking, whilst Liverpool host Loughborough, Westminster welcome Thames Valley, Leicester are on the road in Hemel, Worthing take on Nottingham and Derby travel to Bradford.
On Sunday, Solent can move another step nearer to their unbeaten season as they go to Nottingham, Hemel are in Barking, Reading play host to Worthing in what should be an entertaining contest, and Bradford take on Thames Valley.
Main image credit - Kyle Hemsley Photography