Taunton Tigers progressed to the quarter finals of the National Play-offs with an incredible 72 – 70 win against the London Eastside Eagles. It was obvious right from the start that this was going to be a battle of contrasting styles. The Tigers were going to have to force their up-tempo game against an experienced and smart London team intent on slowing the game down.
Coach Heath rotated all 12 players in the first half to ensure that Taunton could maintain their pressure defence and fast break game plan. The home team finished the half one point down at 35 – 34 but with no personal foul trouble and a fresh squad gaining in confidence.
The second half saw the Tigers maintain their relentless pace and were able to get to the basket showing no fear against the Eagles powerful interior defence. London Eastside themselves though were still able to work themselves into good shooting positions. Any missed shots though were claimed by MVP Graham Jones who finished with 15 rebounds to go with his 9 points.
Whilst the first half saw London pro Lavinier run the show, it was Paul Yabsley that started to get on top in the second. Yabsleys passionate but clever defence was forcing Lavinier further from the basket whilst down the other end Paul began score inside.
When Veteran Centre Dave Bullock stole the ball and double pumped lay-up to give Taunton a 7 point lead late in the 4th quarter it looked like they might canter home, but Eastside came with one last flourish to tie the game at 70 – 70. The Eagles had the ball with 24 seconds to go and looked destined to have the last shot of the game until Nolan stole the ball and fed Andrews in the open court.
There is not a player in the league who can defend Joe Andrews one on one in the open court and Henry the Eagles guard understandably fouled him early. But the London team stood amazed and the home crowd all stood up to witness a breathtaking shot coupling balance and power from Tauntons top scorer to win the game.
Centre Dave Bullock was looking forward to the next round away to Northern Conference 4th placed team Huddersfield next week and hoping to extend his playing career by a few more games yet and Coach Ronnie Heath saw no reason why they cannot go further,
“We are on a roll now and getting better. We have great team energy and our stars Yabsley and Andrews are learning how to get the best out of everyone else.”