(1) Loughborough Student Riders 65 v 76 (4) Worthing Thunder
Saturday 14th April 2018 – 2.00pm
The upsets continued in the NBL Playoffs this weekend, as Saturday’s first game saw our D1M league champion Loughborough Student Riders knocked off by an impressive Worthing Thunder performance. Coach Daniel Gayle’s squad were slow to get going in the first quarter, as the Riders took control early on. Seven quick first quarter points from Max Richardson had the home team up by five at the first break, but Marquis Mathis was doing all he could to keep the Thunder in the game, with 11 points personal in the first ten minutes. The woes looked to continue for the travelling Worthing side, as the Riders managed to extend their lead to double-digits mid-way through the second period.
An impressive run by the South coast side either side of the half-time break saw Mathis tie the game with the first score of the second half, a triple from deep off a Jorge Ebanks’ assist. Worthing took the lead back from the hosts moments later with a Brendan Okoronkwo lay-up, as the two sides went score-for-score throughout the third stanza. A 10-2 run by the Thunder to start the fourth was the first nail in the Riders’ coffin, as Worthing took their first double figure lead of the game, a lead they would never relinquish.
Timely scores from Marquis Mathis was vital in booking the Thunder’s place in the playoff final, in their first D1M playoff appearance since 2015, as he led all scorers with 28 points while adding eight rebounds and three assists. Zaire Taylor was the only other 20-point scorer on the day, as he supported with 21 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Worthing captain Brendan Okoronwko contributed a double-double performance of 12 points and 10 rebounds; while Jorge Ebanks was just short of a triple-double of nine points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. Loughborough scored by committee, as they have done for much of the season, as Alex Roberts and Max Richardson led the effort with 13 points apiece in the loss.
Marquis Mathis was on fire for Worthing as they upset Loughborough - Alex Hemsley Photography
(7) Hemel Storm 98 v 75 (3) Reading Rockets
Saturday 14th April 2018 – 7.00pm
The roller-coaster ride of Hemel Storm’s season continues into the playoff final as they knocked off Reading Rockets on Saturday. The seventh-seeded Storm were the underdogs heading into this one, but after their upset of Team Solent last weekend – they were evidently still full of confidence! A high scoring first quarter saw the sides going blow-for-blow, as the inside-outside combo of Danny Carter and Sydney Donaldson was doing the job for Reading early, only to be matched by the efforts of AJ Roberts and Tom Adorian. Hemel edged ahead to end the first period of play, and the would never give up this lead as they extended the gap to 10 at the break. A strong third quarter for the home side put the game out of reach, putting an end to Reading’s season.
After disappointment at the quarter-final stage for three of the last four seasons, Hemel will be pleased to be headed into the playoff final behind an impressive team performance. Captain Bode Adeluola led the way with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, as six Storm players hit double figures. AJ Roberts and Tom Adorian chipped in 17 points, while Michael Darlow put in an all-round effort of 16 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. The inside combo of Danny Carter and Tim Gill combined for 29 points for Reading, while Sydney Donaldson was effective in getting to the foul line numerous times en route to 14 points.
Captain Bode Adeluola led his team to the Playoff final - Lin Titmuss
(1) Essex Blades 75 v 49 (4) Lancashire Spinners
Saturday 14th April 2018 – 5.00pm
Top-seeded Essex Blades were the first team in D1W to book their place in the playoff final, as they took care of Lancashire Spinners on Saturday evening. The Blades will hope to add the playoff championship to their league title; having lost just twice this season, the East side will be deserved favourites. The game started with the home side showing their experience as early nerves for the young Spinners dug them an 18-point hole at the first break, Essex leading 23-5. The Spinners began to right the wrongs of the first ten minutes in the second quarter, as junior international Shauna Harrison put the Spinners on her back with 19 of her 23 points coming in the period. Coming out of the half, with the Blades holding a 16-point lead, the Spinners needed to throw everything at the game – but the risks didn’t pay off as the Blades’ extended their lead to 20+ with another effective quarter on defense.
After a dominant performance on the offensive boards, Karla Powlesland led the way for the Blades with 18 points, while Cat Lutz matched her efforts, doing much of her damage on the perimeter. Ellie Shaxon added 11 points, while Colleen Leung and Monika Kucerkova were the other Essex players to hit double figures as they added 10 points apiece. Shauna Harrison’s offensive explosion in the second period helped her on the way to 23 points for the Spinners in the loss, while Freya Kelshaw and Milly Knowles added nine points apiece in support.
Karla Powlesland (#11) was active inside in the Blades' semi-final victory - JS Sport Photo
(7) Anglia Ruskin University 79 v 64 (6) Oxford Brookes University
Sunday 15th April 2018 – 2.45pm
With Hemel’s victory over Reading on Saturday evening proving that seventh seeds were not to be under-estimated this playoff campaign, it was the turn of the Anglia Ruskin Rhinos on Sunday afternoon. This was a battle of the lower seeds, as Southwark and Bristol were given early exits at the quarter-final stage. A hot start to the game for Anglia Ruskin was led by two quick three-pointers from Jazmin Gyulai, before Katrin Hulme got going with nine points in the quarter. The home side held a double-digit lead for much of the half before Alice Walton cut the lead to nine points just before the half-time break. Coach Ken Walton was able to rally his troops heading out for the third quarter, as Oxford went on 13-4 run to tie the game at 45-45 late in the quarter. Hulme steadied the ship for the Rhinos with seven quick points either side of the third quarter break.
Oxford’s efforts wouldn’t go away as they traded baskets until the game was tied at 59-59 with four minutes to play. A flurry of scores from the Rhinos gave them a key narrow lead, before Gyulai was fouled on a three-point shot and went to the line to sink all three free throws. An and-one from Walton was the final score of the game for the visitors, as they had to begin fouling in desperation, but came up empty on their final few offensive trips. Hulme was effective throughout the game to lead Anglia Ruskin with 27 points, while Gyulai supported with 17. Marianna Maddaloni added 14 points to round out the double-figure scorers for the Rhinos. Oxford were led by 26 points from Alice Walton, while Michelle Fellerdale added 12 points as the only Brookes player to hit double-digits. The Oxford backcourt duo of Julie Fricke and Paula Romero Lozano were kept noticeably quiet on the offensive end as Anglia Ruskin limited them to just 13 points combined.
Katrin Hulme led the way as Anglia Ruskin's continued their fairy-tale run - JS Sport Photo
(1) Nottingham Hoods 89 v 65 (5) Westminster Warriors
Sunday 15th April 2018 – 6.30pm
Nottingham Hoods have a chance to add the playoff championship to their league title after their win over Westminster on Sunday evening. The East Midlands side will be pleased to have made the jump to the final after falling at the semi-final and quarter-final stages over the last two campaigns, and they showed their intent to achieve this with a good performance at the Wildcats Arena. The home side led from tip to buzzer, as Delaney Powell and David Watts got them going early and they never looked back. The Hoods shot the ball well from the floor, with a distinct over the Warriors as they limited them to shooting just 33% for the game. With two exciting games in the books this season between Thames Valley and Nottingham, the D2M final will see the top two teams in the league go at it one last time before they make the jump to D1M next campaign.
The Hoods were led to their final appearance behind effective efforts from their three leading scorers, as Watts led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while adding three assists, three steals and three blocks – showing his all-round value to Nottingham. Powell supported at both ends with 19 points, five rebounds and six steals; while Tevis Robinson had an efficient day at the office, shooting 77% from the field en route to 17 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. After a 41-point explosion last weekend, Jon Johnson couldn’t quite find the same form this weekend, as the Hoods limited him to 27% en route to 12 points and seven rebounds. Big-man Lawrence Brown led the effort off the bench for the Warriors with 19 points and eight rebounds; while Mantas Adomaitis went three-for-three from deep to add 17 points in the loss.
(2) Thames Valley Cavaliers 97 v 84 (3) Liverpool
Sunday 15th April 2018 – 3.30pm
After a convincing victory over Derbyshire in the quarter-finals, Liverpool headed on the road down to Uxbridge College to visit second-seeded Thames Valley Cavaliers. It was the road team from the North West that were the best in the opening exchanges, holding a narrow lead for much of the first quarter. The Cavaliers came out with a point to prove in the second period, as they worked hard to build a double-digit to going into the half. A dominant start to the third quarter, behind the efforts of Philip Perre and Martelle McLemore, saw the Thames Valley lead balloon to 20, before a late fight-back from Liverpool cut the lead to eight early in the fourth. Thames Valley held on to take the win, headed to their third back-to-back playoff final appearance – after taking home the D3M championship in 2016, then being edged out by Kent Crusaders last year at the National Basketball Performance Centre.
The return to the final was led by Martelle McLemore who was as effective as ever on both ends, the high-point man with 29 points, while also chipping in seven rebounds and five steals. Philip Perre’s added all-round effort of 19 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and two steals; while Abdoulaye Sylla had his own double-double outing of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Liverpool were without lead big-man David Ulph, so it was their dynamic backcourt that led the charge. Kaphel Ulett Waul ended his impressive scoring down the stretch this season with another good outing, as he matched McLemore’s 29 points on the day. Andre Gayle had a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds; while Uche Umekue was the only other Liverpool player to hit double figures as he added a double-double of his own with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
(N1) Ipswich 75 v 60 (S2) Sevenoaks Suns - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 5.00pm
(S1) West Herts Warriors 43 v 77 (N2) Derbyshire Gems - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 3.00pm
(N1) Myerscough College 88 v 78 (S2) Northants Tauras - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 1.00pm
(S1) Greenwich Titans 57 v 63 (S3) East London All Stars - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 5.15pm
(1) BC Medelynas London 105 v 100 (5) Derby Trailblazers II - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 6.00pm
(7) Barking Abbey 71 v 90 (3) Team Derby - Saturday 14th April 2018 - 2.00pm