Basketball sides battle it out in KO Cup

TEAMS took a break from Suffolk Basketball League action to concentrate on the opening round of the knock-out cup. The two Essex-based sides battled it out at Brightlingsea when Colchester Hornets were the visitors.

TEAMS took a break from Suffolk Basketball League action to concentrate on the opening round of the knock-out cup.

The two Essex-based sides battled it out at Brightlingsea when Colchester Hornets were the visitors. The home side had just the better of the first quarter with Armin Abdollahi hitting three long-range efforts for the Sledgehammers to give them a seven-point lead.

Ben Day came off the bench in the second to knock down six points in three minutes to keep the home side ahead, while Billy Smith and Simon Taylor combined well for the Hornets to keep them in the game and half time saw the gap still at seven. Sledgehammers began the third with a 12-2 run as Alec Ward hit nine points but Taylor hit back for the visitors and his 14 personal in the quarter saw the gap reduced to five going into the final period.

The deficit was down to two within three minutes of the re-start but that was the closest it got as Sam Day hit six points in two minutes to better his brother's account and with Billy Smith fouling out for the Hornets they only managed one score in the final three minutes.

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Lasts season's Plate winners, Holbrook Eagles, have again had to resign themselves to a place in that competition as they came out second-best against BT Lasers. Lasers welcomed back Lewis Giles to their squad and he responded with a couple of early scores but it was the Eagles who were ahead at the end of the first, as Michael Holbrook helped himself to eight personal.

With Holbrook on the bench in the second, Eagles found scoring difficult and only managed one basket in seven minutes. At the same time Lasers hit 14 without reply and went in at half time ahead by seven. A 16-4 run at the start of the third put Lasers well in control as Andrew Taylor and Femi Ariyo piled on the points.

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The gap going into the final quarter was 13 and although Eagles had the better of the fourth they were never able to get the gap back to single figures and seven misses from the foul line did not help.

BT Jets travelled to Bury to face the Warriors hoping to reverse the league game's score earlier in the season when they went down by more than 30. They introduced one-time Holbrook Eagles' favourite, Tendai Simbai, to their starting line up and he duly obliged with 10 points in the first half. His presence on defence also brought dividends, as Warriors were restricted to just three scores in the opening quarter.

Half time saw Jets up by eight and with Simbai helping himself to another 13 personal in the third and Gary Carson chipping in with six, the visitors had a comfortable 10-point cushion going into the fourth. Ryan Mitson and Stuart Stearns gave Warriors brief hope with 14 points between them in eight minutes, narrowing the gap to three with four minutes still on the clock. But that was as close as it got as Simbai finished on a game-high 33 to give Jets their first win of the season.

California Cougars, with only one defeat so far this season, welcomed Long Stratton to the Copleston centre for their first taste of Suffolk basketball. With Cougars averaging more than 90 points per game in the league, their score of just 11 points in the opening quarter was perhaps a pointer to the way the game would go.

Only Joe Rudd scored more than once for the home side while Andy Thacker got things going for the visitors with nine personal to give his side an eight-point lead. Rudd continued to have 'hot hands' in the second with a double-figure haul and with Leroy Manhertz hitting seven personal, Cougars edged ahead by five.

A low-scoring third saw Cougars just maintain their lead, despite missing four times from the foul line, while the visitors found themselves in foul trouble with Thacker and Neil Baggott both on four. Long Stratton opened the final quarter with a 12-3 run and despite 11 points in 5 minutes from Neil Lister, Cougars found themselves eight down with three minutes left.

Joe Rudd hit two three-pointers to narrow the gap to a single point only for the visitors to calmly sink two free throws to decide the game at the death.

Cup results

Sledgehammers 103 (Abdollahi 27, A.Ward 22, Keeling 21). Hornets 88 (Taylor 27, Smith 21, Tucker 14)

Lasers 87 (Taylor 32, Giles 17, O'Connor/Ariyo 14). Eagles 75 (N Drane/Holbrook 21, Newman 13)

Warriors 71 (Mitson 18, Moody 12, Stearns 11). Jets 76 (Simbai 33, Carson 12).

Cougars 81 (Rudd 30, Lister 23, Manhertz 19). Long Stratton 82 (Thacker 24, Day 22, Smith 14).

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