Taunton Tigers gained their first ever win against Kent Crusaders with a 105 – 102 overtime victory. The game will go down as one of their best ever; especially considering it was done with Yabsley and the Andersons away and Joe Andrews still too ill to compete. The result lifts them to joint 4th in Nat Div 2 alongside Birmingham Athletics and Leicester who lost away in Newcastle this weekend.
Club President Richard Frost described the game as the ‘one of the great’ he has witnessed and was keen to praise the supporters and younger players in particular,
“The crowd were worth 10 points again. They are often quiet when we are winning but they always get behind the team when it matters. You have to feel good about the future of this club when you see them perform like that without key experienced players.”
With so many games being decided by single digits throughout the league Taunton should enjoy the home advantage they have in 7 of their last 10 games leading up to the play-offs.
This was a game when several players were going to have to really step up their game if Taunton were to stay close. Jones and Nolan provided the glue throughout the game but the young players did not disappoint.
Mike Sebire, Tigers unsung hero, went toe to toe with Kent's infamous power forward Lee Butters. Despite being outsized by the Crusader's ‘enforcer’ who was back after suspension Sebire held his own and his discipline to see off Butters who fouled out late in the game. Sebire rubbed salt into the wound immediately with a clutch 3 point shot.
Junior Jordan Seeley came off the bench to contribute 15 fearless first half points (20 in total) whilst ‘Dangerous’ Dan Howe was given a licence to thrill with his all court game. Dan is still working hard on his defensive game but in this confident mood he is difficult to stop, even at this level. He went on to score 19 points and collect the man of the match award.
Taunton led throughout the game only to see the Crusaders edge ahead in the crucial 4th quarter. With the Tigers down by 8 points with 2 minutes to go, the game had an inevitable look about it. But whilst Jessop and Davison had lifted the Crusaders, Taunton had one last run in them. Intense team defence down one end was backed up with smart decisions down the other, as Howe, Nolan and then Bird came up the goods when it mattered.
Parker for Kent and then Puncewicz for Taunton had chances to win the game but overtime was needed at 92 – 92. Energised by the crowd Tigers took control of the game and made free-throws when the Crusaders were forced to foul whilst chasing the game.
Alistair Bird who made 2 free throws to take game into overtime had suffered from flu throughout the week, but was ecstatic after the game,
“That is a real Monkey off our back. Beating Kent was so important mentally for us.”
Tigers entertain Plymouth this weekend. The Raiders will be buoyed by their 30 point thrashing of Mansfield last weekend and their 1 point loss to second placed Bristol away, will have given them confidence. Tickets for the big local Derby can be brought on the door at Wellsprings for a 6.00pm tip-off. Entry is £2 children and £4 adults. The price includes entry to the women's game at 3.45pm.