Rossendale Raptors Beat Tees Valley Mohawks to Take Winning Run to 8 Games
|Author: Ken Masser||Published: 30th January 2012 12:41|
Rossendale Raptors basketball team took the long journey to Middlesborough last Saturday to play mid-table Tees Valley Mohawks at the University of Teesside.
The Mohawks have sprung one or two surprises on better teams this season so Raptors were expecting a challenge, however Raptors were up to the task and won a competitive game 91-77.
The game started with the home side throwing up a succession of successful shots led by their captain Thomas. Raptors seemed shell-shocked and took a long while to settle, missing relatively easy shots and not playing as a team and, in fact, it was the third minute before the Rossendale team broke their duck! By the sixth minute of the first quarter Mohawks had taken a fifteen point lead, leading 21 points to 6. Gayle, the Raptors play-maker and leading scorer in the League seemed a little out of sorts and it was left to veteran John Lindsay to keep Raptors in the game, scoring nine of their first twelve points from inside the paint. Estrada also stepped up to the mark and hit a couple of key three-pointers to reduce the deficit. However by the end of the quarter Raptors trailed the Middlesborough team by 26 to 21.
The second period started with Thomas for Mohawks again scoring freely, whilst a re-vamped Raptors team attempted to claw back the lead. The home team continued to put pressure on Gayle by double teaming him as he brought the ball up court and the Raptors team took advantage of this from time to time by quickly moving the ball up court, by-passing Gayle and scoring easy baskets. Six different players for Raptors scored in a five minute spell and tied the game, but Mohawks responded with six quick points to again take the lead. From then on the quarter belonged to Raptors who stepped up the pressure with their man-to-man defence and outscored the Mohawks 16 to 4 in the remaining four minutes, with strong scoring from Kornecki and Allerston. The half finished with Raptors leading 48 to 41 and Gayle as yet had only contributed six points to the Rossendale team's total.
The coaches' message at the half time break was for Raptors to improve their defence and put pressure on the Middlesborough side's shooters as well as getting the ball quicker up the court to put them under pressure. However the start of the second half saw Mohawks again shooting from distance with success, and they pulled back to within one point of Raptors. The message finally got home to Raptors and in the next five minutes they restricted Mohawks to only four points whilst the Rossendale side scored seventeen. Gayle was by now causing all sorts of problems to the opposition and their only answer was to foul him to stop him from going to the hoop. For the second game in succession the Raptors play maker found himself taking free throw after free throw as the Middlesborough side quickly reached their quota of fouls. Contributions by Estrada and Slabu made sure that Raptors stayed in control. The quarter finished with the Rossendale side comfortably in the lead 71 to 55.
Going into the fourth quarter the Raptors only had to keep their heads to ensure a comfortable victory. By now all the Raptors squad had played and all had scored, testifying to the side's strength in depth. However Mohawks were not going to give up without a fight and were again prepared to foul rather than let Raptors have any shooting opportunities. Raptors did stretch their lead to 21 points but Copeland for Mohawks suddenly had a purple patch and scored 14 points in five minutes, including four enormous three pointers. He finished the match as top scorer with 27 points. Raptors however were keeping things simple and picking up sufficient points through good passing and foul shooting and finished comfortably in the lead by 91 points to 77.
Leaders for Raptors were: S.Gayle 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists; A.Estrada 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists; J.Lindsay 11 points, 4 rebounds; M.Allerston 10 points, 5 rebounds; A.Kornecki 10 points, 4 assists.
This win keeps Raptors in second place in the League with a game in hand on leaders Stockport Falcons. The championship is now down to a three team race between Raptors, the Stockport side and Middlesbrough Lions. Raptors next match is at Haslingden Sports Centre on January 21st starting at 5.15pm, and is against improving side Liverpool.
Elsewhere, Raptors third team, who play in division two of the Regional Manchester Area Basketball League, had an impressive win against Holmes Chapel Hornets 76-43. Martyn Taylor and Richard Bramwell led the team with excellent performances, and coach Mark Williams added; "It was a terrific all round team performance. We defended well together and passed the ball really well in attack. It's great to see Adam Robinson and Ben Chicken coming through the junior ranks and competing at this level. Our big man Chris Watts also had a terrific game and in fairness to Holmes Chapel they just couldn't cope with his size and strength. It was an excellent win and I'm really pleased with how the team is developing."