Taunton Tigers went down away to Kent Crusaders 83 – 73 as there injury worries turned to crisis. The trip to Canterbury against joint Div 2 favourites (alongside Derby) with a depleted squad was always going to be a tough challenge for the travelling Tigers. It was Taunton however buoyed by their away win against Leicester the previous weekend that made the best start. Joe Andrews and Richard Anderson (19 points) both scored freely in the early exchanges.
With the Crusaders rightly concerned about the Tigers 3 point threat they pushed out defensively only to leave gaps for Anderson and Andrew to drive to the basket. Despite giving away height and weight to Kent, Taunton defended their own basket with pride and intensity. As a consequence Kent relied heavily on Jessop and Davison making long range jump-shots which meant that the Tigers could stay close throughout the first half.
After the break double disaster stuck for Taunton. Firstly aggressive forward Mike Sebire aggravated a foot injury and had to sit the game out which inevitably weakened their inside resistance defensively. Then Andrews, Tigers most influential player again this year landed awkwardly after a rebound tearing ankle ligaments.
Taunton had to play the remainder of the game with 7 players of whom only 3 were fully fit. Defensive bravery coupled with continued offensive confidence by the Tigers younger players kept them in the game right to the end. Alistair Bird (20 points) and Joe Saunders (18 points) made five 3-pointers each to keep Taunton in the game but they inevitably tired towards the end.
With only three fully fit players Taunton have taken the unprecedented step of withdrawing from their National League round 3 tie against Coventry next week. Coach Ronnie Heath explained,
“We really felt we had a genuine chance against Coventry, my home club, who have struggled in Division 1 this year. But we already have a huge long-term injury list and it would have meant me asking other players, themselves carrying injuries to play big minutes. That would not have been fair to the individuals or the club's chances in Division 2 this year.”