THERE were two close defeats this week for Leeds Force as we took on the Cheshire Phoenix (70-67) and the Plymouth Raiders (76-72).
The first of the two was a trophy game, which meant that the winner would advance to the next round while the loser would be knocked out of the competition.
Unfortunately, Force couldn’t quite get it done.
The game was close all the way through the first half with the scoring going back and forth for the most part.
As the second quarter drew to a close and the teams headed to the locker rooms, the score stood at 32-32.
It was the third quarter where Force started to establish some sort of hold on the game. We managed to find the basket a bit more and were up by as much as 13 at one point.
However, in the closing minutes of the quarter, Cheshire converted three baskets in quick succession to cut the gap to six going into the fourth (55-49).
In the final period, Force started well and brought the lead back up to 10 points; we seemed to be in control of the game.
Even so, the visitors persisted and with about five minutes left in the game, it was all tied up!
Although Force’s Kwan Waller hit two big three-pointers in the last five minutes, they were answered by a flurry of long-range efforts from Phoenix, including three from Akeem Ellis who caught fire. The game finished 70-67.
Force’s top performers on the night were Waller (23 points, nine rebounds) and Marsden (18 points, 10 rebounds).
Coming off such a close defeat we really wanted to go to Plymouth and get a win but we knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Raiders are a team who have improved massively since we last played them so we knew that we had to expect a different team.
After a long journey down to Plymouth, it was important not to let it affect the way we started the game. With this in mind, we put 10 quick points on the board and led by seven by midway through the first quarter.
Raiders fought back with intent and finished the quarter ahead by four points (20-16).
In the second quarter, there was nothing between the teams. Every run by one team was responed to quickly by the other and the half-time break arrived with Force still down by four points (39-35).
It is usually the third quarter where we make some sort of move, but it was different this time.
Although we picked up where we left off in terms of scoring, the home side managed to find more success on the offensive end than us and extended their lead (62-54).
If there’s one thing that can be said about our team, it’s that we never give up!
We will always play until the final buzzer sounds.
So, going into the final period, we still had our eyes on the prize.
We slowly but surely chipped away at their lead and with about three minutes remaining in the game, we tied the score.
The final minutes were some of the most exciting of the game but would ultimately end in the Raiders’ favour.
Some big defensive plays by them saw the game out and it finished (76-72).
Kwan Waller had an exceptional game with 28 points, shooting 60 per cent from the field!
A disheartening week for Leeds Force to say the least but there is a lot of the season still left to play for.