Leeds Force were triumphant over Bristol Flyers, 71-68, in front of a thunderous home crowd on Friday night to capture their first win of the 2015-2016 season.
This was Leeds’ first win against Bristol Flyers since both teams ascended to the British Basketball League last year. It could not have come at a sweeter time; Bristol were vying for their first win of the season, as were the Force.
The atmosphere was electric in the Carnegie Sports Arena with the Leeds Force faithful fully engaged throughout the contest. Chants of “Let’s go Leeds Force, Let’s go!” and “De-fence!” erupted from the vivacious crowd and really provided Leeds a home-court advantage.
Week-long preparation from play-caller Matt Newby propelled Leeds into a back-and-forth defensive battle with the Flyers.
American point guard, Kwan Waller, wreaked havoc on the opposition’s ball handlers, using quick hands and full-court ball pressure to set the tone for the game. Waller made his presence felt on both sides of the court, creating shots for team-mates and even executing a four-point play in the game’s early going.
Crowd favorite and long-time back-court player, Dwayne Camille, matched the incessant defensive pressure. The front court of Leeds, with the likes of Zak Wells, Rob Marsden, and Clayfell Harris had no problem controlling the paint throughout the contest on both ends of the court.
Going into half-time, Bristol clung to a 35-33 advantage over Leeds.
The start of the third quarter saw Leeds Force clamp down on Bristol’s offensive weapons, effectively switching screens and eliminating their perimeter and inside threats.
Louis Sayers managed to steal the ball in two consecutive plays, generating four quick points.
Sayers was not done there and began draining a barrage of three-point field goals, driving the crowd into a frenzy.
In fact, the Leeds Force bench was so energised by the action on the court, the official stopped play and issued a warning for bench players to cease “getting up every two minutes”.
Leeds out-scored Bristol by nine in the third period and seized control of the game, going into the final segment of the game with an advantage 56-49.
The Flyers found themselves in a similar position as in recent weeks of close defeats and fought hard to tie the game in the closing minute of play.
But the Force were not rattled, especially not Camille, who received the ball from Wells at the crest of the three-point line in the waning seconds of the shot clock. Without a second’s hesitation, he elevated off the floor and sent the ball sailing into the air and through the hoop, establishing a 71-68 advantage for the Force.
The Carnegie Sports Arena exploded with jubilation and not a single person was left in their seat.
Bristol fought tooth and nail to tie the game, gathering offensive rebounds and attempting three potential game-tying three-pointers.
However, Leeds’ defensive pressure caused failed attempts and a rebound by Waller sealed the victory for the home team.
The victory was truly an overall team effort. Both Sayers and Waller led the scoring with team-high 17 points. Camille had an overall strong performance with eight points, seven rebounds and six assists. Leeds’ big men – Wells, Marsden and Harris – combined for 26 points, 23 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
The defensive display by Leeds, which was a staple from their successes of last season, resulted in the Flyers shooting 38 per cent from the field.
Leeds Force will be looking to build upon the win when we face Surrey Scorchers on Friday night at home. Come and show your support!