Around The EBL - Week 9 -

Around The EBL – Week 9

It was a busy weekend for national leagues up and down the country with a number of fictures taking place, read on to find out how everyone got on.

EBL Division 1

It was a relatively quiet weekend in D1 with just five games taking place.

Manchester Magic recorded their 11th consecutive victory in all competitions by defeating Team Northumbria, 72-53.

After a cagey first quarter, Magic pulled away in the second and third periods behind some strong interior play and tenacious defence. They limited the visitors to 12 or fewer points in each of the first three periods, while the final period was more evenly matched. Magic’s big lead, however, allowed them to run their bench and secure a 19-point win.

Jack Minister led Manchester with 11 points while Franc Garcia Garrido added 10.  Three Magic players chipped in with eight points each. For Northumbria, Matthew Martin had a game-high 15 points and Jack Preston contributed 12.

“They were missing two key guys tonight – their point guard and Jamie Glen, who is a good 3/4 man who can shoot the ball,” said Magic coach Paul Middleton who was extremely complementary of his opponents.

“They don’t give up.  They always just chip away and fight back. They’re that kind of team – well-organised, aggressive and they do a good job on the boards.”

The Magic now sit atop the Division 1 table with a 5-0 record.

The Newham Neptunes saw their winning streak broken by the Essex leopards on Friday night, as they kept their own unbeaten streak alive with a 76-70 win.

A big three pointer from Ishmael Fontaine gave the Leopards their biggest lead of the first period at 15-11, but the game remained tight and the lead was 16-14 at the first break.

Three Ajumobi points saw Newham regain the lead early in the second period, but captain Carl Josey capped an 8-0 Leopards’ run to put them 24-18 ahead, and they never trailed again in the half as Clark sent them into the locker room 34-30 ahead.

Howard Crawford and Papa Dembe Kasse exchanged baskets to open the third period and a 9-0 run sparked by a Fontaine three saw Leopards take control. Their lead peaked at 14 midway through the quarter on another Fontaine trey, but a 10-2 run saw the visitors get back into the game, and Leopards’ lead was cut to 52-50.

Crawford scored Leopards’ first three points of the last period, and six points from Van Beest saw Leopards retain their lead in the fourth period. A pair of foul shots from Crawford kept Leopards ahead by five, but with 4:10 remaining Leopards lost veteran point guard Ronnie Baker with a dislocated shoulder.

Fontaine split the free-throws earned by Baker and with Josey hitting a trey down the stretch, Newham never got closer than five points as the Big Cats made it four league wins from as many games.

“I’m very pleased with the weekend,” said Essex Head Coach Robert Youngblood. “I knew it would be tough weekend, and probably the biggest weekend of the season, so far.”

“We had to take care of business against Newham, and I thought we played well as a team and pulled it out when we needed to. Howard (Crawford) was fantastic, and Kris (Clark) had a big game for us, ran the team really well and controlled the game.”

The Hemel Storm secured their fourth victory from their first four games as they defeated the Leicester Warriors, 79-68. American guard Mark Comstock is beginning to show glimpses of his impressive ability as he scored 22 points for Leicester in the loss.

American Centre Chris McGrew led the Bradford Dragons with 27 points as they wrapped up the 70-57 victory over the Westminster Warriors, while the Tees Valley Mohawks grabbed their first win of the season with a 72-86 result against the Worthing Thunder.

National Cup

Sunday saw the Quarter Finals of the National Cup as the eight remaining teams looked to secure their final four spot in the competition.

The first game saw the Loughborough Students Riders host the Essex Leopards in a game that didn’t go as routinely as the Leopards will have expected. The Riders opened up a 24-14 first period lead and by the end of three periods, hosts Loughborough still held a 63-55 lead, but Essex went on a 14-0 run to open the fourth to take control, and eventually the result.

Due to competition rules, the Leopards were forced to sit one of their American imports in this Cup clash, as player-coach Robert Youngblood was left with the difficult decision of who to pick between Kris Clark and Howard Crawford.

“I had a big decision to make as to which of the Americans to sit out at Loughborough,” said Youngblood. “It was always going to be tough, and I knew we’d have to get the ball up the court by committee, and get it to Howard who I feel is the best player in the EBL. He delivered for us and we pulled it through in the last quarter with some great defence as we had them to ten points.”

Crawford scored all of the Leopards’ 14 first quarter points en route to a 37 point, 12 rebound performance. He shot 71% from the floor and went 7/8 from the free throw line.

Connor Washington was Loughborough’s main man with 22 points and 9 rebounds.

The Derby Trailblazers came even closer to upsetting the apple cart as they faced Division 1 side Manchester Magic.

The travelling Blazers’ fans made life difficult for Magic in their Amaechi Centre home, with raucous support from the onset, which culminated in an exciting final period. With just over two minutes remaining Derby’s Alex Dorr found himself at the free throw line for a pair of foul shots and the American big man made both, giving his side a 63-62 lead.

Ryan Lohfink answered with a free throw of his own to tie the game, and after a costly turnover allowed Jack Minister to knock down a clutch shot, the Magic held a lead they wouldn’t give up.

“They were the toughest team I think we’ve faced all year in terms of defence and intensity,” Magic player Jack Minister said. “It took a while but we realised we had to match that intensity.”

Leeds Carnegie’s defense of their National Cup crown came to an end in dramatic fashion on Sunday.  Carnegie travelled to East London to face Newham Neptunes in the competition’s quarter-finals and ended up on the wrong side of the 67-60 scoreline.

Carnegie started the game the better outplaying the London outfit on both ends of the floor.  On the back of some impressive defensive plays Leeds were able to hold Newham to just 4 points in the first quarter.  The Neptunes started to find their rhythm in the second period but Carnegie still managed to control the tempo of the game, enabling them to take a 20 point lead into the half time break.

The second half saw a complete reversal of roles as Newham came out of the locker room with an intensity that was missing from their first half display.  They kept this level of performance up for the remainder of the game, outscoring Leeds 52 points to 25 points in the second half.  Newham will now advance to the semi-finals of the National Cup for the second time in the club’s history.

Carnegie’s scoring was led by Jack Stannard with 19 points supported by Josh McGinn with 13 points.  Newham’s offense was led by Anthony Okereafor with 14 points.

The final result in the quarter finals saw the Reading Rockets pick up the 58-73 win over the Bristol Academy Flyers.

The loss marks the first time since 2010, that the Bristol Academy Flyers will not appear in the National Cup Final.

A disappointed Flyers head coach Andreas Kapoulas said after the game: “Our performance was not really what I was expecting. We did not really give ourselves a chance to stay in the game. We committed a number of turnovers and our defense had a lot of individual breakdowns. Reading played a good game and on the day deserved to go through to the next round of the Cup.”

Dan Carter led Reading with 19 points and Spencer Wells had 12 points for Flyers.

The Semi Final Fixtures are scheduled to be played on December 8th and will see the Essex Leopards host the Reading Rockets, while the Newham Neptunes will host the Manchester Magic.

EBL Division 2

There was a huge game in Division 2, as Ipswich Basketball Club hosted the Huddersfield Heat in what could potentially be a top two clash when all is said and done. They are two very talented teams with many players who arguably could play at a much higher level.

Ipswich went into the game still on a high after their amazing fifteen point comeback from the previous week against London Westside, only to end up on the receiving end of a similar fourth quarter fight back against an excellent Huddersfield Heat team.

Huddersfield are the self-proclaimed ‘Team to Beat’ in Division Two following a series of high profile signings from overseas in the off-season and recent Hoopsfix coverage about both their big name signings and plans for a five million pound purpose built basketball facility in their home town.

Their results have backed up their ambitions with a clean sweep of wins through the pool stage of the Patrons Cup and now a 3-0 start to the league season, having not yet played a home game. However, Ipswich’s start is not one to be ashamed of with a record of 7-1 in Division Two and Patrons Cup action coming into this game.

Ipswich started the better of the two teams with Aaron Moseley scoring both from beyond the arc and attacking the basket while Huddersfield looked sluggish in the opening minutes of the game. Following a time-out Huddersfield came to life, and the game began to go back and forth as it would for the rest of the encounter. The first quarter would finish with the Heat hitting a three on the buzzer to go up by three, not for the last time in this game.

The second quarter saw both teams clamp down defensively and scores were much harder to come by. Both Josh Johnson and Tom Sadler were struggling to get their offence going for Ipswich, while Miguel Molina, Huddersfield’s leading scorer, was also not firing on all cylinders. A Johnson lay-up on the buzzer kept the scores close going into the interval for Ipswich although Huddersfield led 38-42.

The third quarter saw Ipswich take the game over. The energy of Luke Mascall-Wright combined with the shooting of Tom Sadler and improved rebounding allowed Ipswich to dictate the tempo of the game, and at one stage they stretched the lead to thirteen, before a pair of Heat buckets at the end of the period narrowed things to nine. Ipswich led 65-56 going into the final period.

The fourth period was about as dramatic as things can get. Huddersfield’s Molina stepped up his game and made a pair of contested three pointers that quickly narrowed the gap to five points, and then things went back and forth with Sadler knocking one down from the arc only to be answered instantly by Molina again.

Costly turnovers and missed free throws meant that with fifteen seconds on the clock Josh Johnson went to the foul line with Ipswich down by one. After hitting one of two, the game was tied and the Heat had possession.

Somehow, amongst all the intensity and excitement Huddersfield’s American import Nick Crowder out of South Wesleyan University found himself open on the three point line as time wound down, as he knocked down the huge game winning shot for Huddersfield.

There was some debate as to whether time had expired when the shot went through the hoop, and whether Ipswich should have possession with a chance to tie the game – but the officials decided the buzzer sounded while the ball was in the air and that the game was finished. 77-80 to Huddersfield.

Former Real Madrid player Molina led the scoring for Huddersfield with 21 points while the game-winner Crowder had 13. Tom Sadler and Aaron Moseley both had 17 for the home side.

“Huddersfield is the best team we have played this season, but I think we showed today that we belong in this division and that when we play well we can beat anybody,” said Ipswich Coach Nick Drane who identified basic errors as the reason why his team lost the game.

“However, hats off to them today – to come back from nine down and beat us on our own floor shows impressive guts and resolve from a very talented team. I have a lot of respect for what they are doing in Huddersfield, it can only be good for British basketball. If I get the chance I would love to pick their brains to find out how they have done such great things.”

“I like to think about the other thirty-nine minutes and forty five seconds rather than focus on the last shot or whether or not there was still time on the clock. We made some really basic mistakes today – if our u13’s shot 47% from the foul line or turned the ball over 23 times I would be asking questions so for our men’s team to make those types of mistakes in a game of this importance means we need to be almost perfect in all other area’s if we were going to win today”.

Elsewhere, there were wins for the Loughborough Student Riders who secured the 67-57 victory over London United to go top of D2 with all their top scorers chalking up double figures, while the Derby Trailblazers sit just behind them in second place following an impressive 88-65 win over the Eastside Eagles.

There was a big performance for Damoy Robertson on Saturday as he led London Westside to a 73-60 win over the LSBU Brixton Topcats, who had been undefeated up until this point. He scored 28 for Westside who are now 2-2 for the season so far.

Darren Best scored 31 to lead the Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows, although it wasn’t enough as Worcester Wolves II picked up the 78-92 victory for their first of the season.

EBL Division 3

Northern Conference

The Northants Thunder regained their spot on top of the conference with a 7-1 record after inflicting the 85-92 defeat on the Birmingham A’s. Leon Henry scored 27 for the Thunder, who continue to storm through their first season in Division 3.

There were wins for the Rossendale Raptors and the Nottingham Hoods, with the 58-65 victory being the first of the season for Nottingham who are now 1-6 for the campaign so far.

Stockport Falcons faced Sefton Stars on the road, hoping to extend their winning run to 9 games at Fernhill Leisure Centre.

This was a game that would ultimately come down to the rebounding battle, with Sefton consistently crashing to the offensive glass. A hot shooting start by the hosts saw them take the first period 28-23.

Stockport managed to slow Sefton slightly in the second quarter, but behind the play of Phil Brandreth, the Stars were able to shade the period by a single point, leading by 6 at the half time break.

The early part of the second half saw Stockport string together a scoring run to briefly take the lead in the contest for the first time since scoring the opening basket, but a period of strong rebounding by the hosts saw them minimise the impact of the Stockport run, reclaiming the lead. Stockport won the quarter 19-16.

The rebounding discrepancy would really take its toll on Stockport in the final period, as they were unable to complete a number of good defensive stands by claiming the rebound, allowing Sefton extra opportunities to score and control the game clock.

Stockport were led by Josh Houghton with 29 points, while Onuora and Brandreth both found themselves in double figures for the hosts.

Stockport sit joint second in the Division 3 (North) table after this result, while Sefton lie in fourth, where they finished last season.

The Sheffield Sabres picked up the away 58-63 win over the Derby Trailblazers II, while Jason Swaine again proved the man on a mission in Leeds Carnegie II’s 100-96 overtime win against the Birmingham Mets. The veteran guard racked up 33 points, although his team mate Ben Cepulis thought he’d go the extra mile with his 39 points. Swaine now averages 27.4ppg so far this season.

Southern Conference

Tayo Odulaja had an impressive weekend combining two performances for 53 points over the weekend as the Bracknell Cobras picked up one loss and one defeat against the London Phoenicians and London Greenhouse Pioneers respectively.

There were wins elsewhere for the Hackney White Heat and Oxford Hoops, who went all the way to overtime against Team Solent before securing the 79-81 victory.

Mark Gillbard was the man who led Plymouth Marjon to a 74-59 victory over Barking Abbey as he scored 30 points in the win. Despite 20 points from Joe Junior Mvuezolo, Plymouth Marjon tightened up defensively in the fourth quarter to hold BA to 8 points and get the victory. Josh Steel added 10 and Reis Pinnock and Calvin Nevill-Kintu finished with 6 each.

EBL Division 4

Northern Conference

After two disappointing games last weekend, the Hull Wasps travelled to Fernhill Sports Centre on Sunday desperate for a win against Sefton Stars II, in order to hold on to their chances of achieving promotion at the end of this season.

These chances were put under serious threat as the club was missing five key players on Sunday – Manuel Guzman, Jack Daley, James Rayner, Adrian Blatherwick and Eldar Ravilevich – due to a sickness bug, however, John Stewart put in one of the performances of the season as he dropped 54 to lead Hull to 91-69 win.

“Obviously, it was good to be able to do that for the club,” said Stewart, who’s scoring total is the highest amount by anyone in the country so far this season.

“But I have to emphasise, this league is not where we want to be in the long run. Personally, I feel that it being the largest output of the season is not important. For us to win I needed to score, so I did. When we need different things I try to do those too. I’m just happy to help us get back on track.”

The Mersey Tigers are still riding high on a 6-0 record after a comfortable victory over 2nd placed Leeds Tigers this weekend, taking a 22 point advantage at half time (Leeds 18 – Mersey 40). Mersey continued to pile the pressure on, despite the game being one of the most physical games they had faced.

Mersey scored 16 points to Leeds 3 in the 3rd quarter, but with 21 points apiece in the final quarter the league leaders came out on top with a 35 point victory.  Final result Leeds Tigers 42 – Mersey Tigers 77.

In a North-East derby game the Newcastle Eagles II lost 72-86 to the Durham Wildcats II and now sit just outside the play-off spots.

Midlands Conference

The Warwickshire Wizards were hammered by the NULC Knights 36-72 to go top of the table, while Derby Trailblazers III secured an 82-72 win over the Sporting Club Albion. Thirty points from Lionel Antoni led the Bromsgrove Bears to a 90-71 win over the Birmingham Mets II to send them joining NULC at the top on a 5-0 record.

South Eastern Conference

BC Medelynas continue to impress in D4 and now hold an 8-0 record after defeating the Cambridge Cats 86-83, while the Ware Rebels sit second after crushing the Maidstone Warriors 29-72.

The Greenwich Titans beat London Utd Harefield Academy 84-55 and the College of West Anglia Fury took down the Southend Scorpions 79-71. The other win of the weekend saw the Brentwood Fire pick up the 51-85 win over the Southend Scorpions.

Midlands South West Conference

There were wins this week for the Oxford Brookes University, who extend their unbeaten record to 8-0, and the Middlesex LTBC who move toward the playoff spots with a 77-60 victory over the Woking Blackhawk Flyers.

Cardiff City came away with a 51-64 win from the Reading Rockets II, while the Swindon Shock also won on the road against the Bristol Academy Flyers II. The Hertfordshire Warriors defeated the Southampton Uni Sharks 82-65.

Did you get to any games? Let us know your thoughts?


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