Taunton Tigers had a perfect weekend as their trip to the north saw them pick up two wins against sides at opposite ends of the table. On Saturday they shocked Division One leaders Manchester Magic with a 97 – 89 victory, while the following day they won 88 – 70 at Tees Valley Mohawks.
You can watch the full game video here or View it on Vimeo. The match report continues below.
Tigers forward Chris Page led all scorers with 36 points and 11 rebounds as the visitors ended Magic's 13-game perfect start to the season. Forward Paul Yabsley added 32 points and guard Joe Andrews scored 19 as the win saw the Tigers leap up to fourth place in the Division One standings.
David Watts scored 26 and Stefan Gill finished with 22 points and 7 assists as the Magic allowed their opponents to get to the free-throw line 28 times in the contest and the visitors knew exactly what to do when they got there knocking down 75% of their free-throw attempts on the night.
Understandably, Tigers coach Tom Kambouris was full of praise for his team,
“We went into the game with specific achievable objectives. We knew if we executed those objectives, we could beat Manchester.
“Hats off to Gill, Watts and Kimbrough, they kept bombing away until the final buzzer. Although Manchester's big three are a very talented group, we know our eight/nine-man rotation can match-up well with any team in this league. To travel up to Manchester and beat them in their house is a significant step in our journey.”
A layup by Andrews gave them an early 15 – 8 lead, but Kimbrough also made a blistering start for the home side, knocking down four of his first five shots for ten first quarter points. His 3-pointer from the left corner gave the Magic a 20 – 19 lead with 1:59 to play in the period, but the Tigers made it clear from the offset that they would not be intimidated by their opponents and a 3-pointer (off the glass) from Andrews meant that the scores were tied at 24 after one.
The Tigers came into the game well-prepared and set out to limit the home side's ability to run by picking up the Magic guards deep in their own half. Without their usual transition opportunities the Magic seemed happy to settle for their three point shot, but it was a night where they struggled to make them; connecting on only 27% of their shots from behind the arc. The visitors continued to find success inside the arc scoring 10 of the first 12 points in the second quarter to lead 34 – 26 as the Magic mis-fired from the outside on four straight possessions.
Taunton seemed much more comfortable operating on the low block and outscored their hosts 36 – 26 in the paint. A turnaround jumper by Watts pulled the Magic to within two points, but the Tigers countered immediately with a 3-point play from Page. After the Magic failed to score on back-to-back possessions the visitors increased their lead to nine points with 1:30 to play in the half following a finger-roll by forward Adam Rickwood. But Kimbrough scored a layup and Watts knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Magic within four points at halftime.
The Tigers began the second half with a flurry as Page drained back-to-back treys, putting the visitors up by double digits for the first time in the game. The Magic responded with a 3-pointer from forward Adam Slater, but Page added another 3-pointer and a layup after some nifty footwork inside to give the visitors a 52 – 61 advantage with 4:20 to play in the third quarter.
As the third period ticked away the Magic found more success attacking the basket and they soon found a route back into the game via the free-throw line. The home side made 6 of 8 from the charity stripe over the final three minutes of the third quarter, reducing the Tigers lead to just two points after forward Nathan Schall made 1 of 2 from the line. But Page scored his fourth 3-pointer of the period with 50 seconds to play giving the visitors a 66 – 61 lead going into the final quarter.
The Magic made the perfect start to the fourth quarter with Gill picking off a pass from Tigers guard Sean Clifford and taking the ball the length of the court for an uncontested dunk. The home crowd began to bubble with anticipation as their side gathered momentum and finally took the lead following a layup by Kimbrough with 7:52 to play. But the Tigers answered back with a 3-pointer by Andrews from the left corner sparking a 12 – 3 Taunton run. Yabsley scored seven points during that stretch — his final two coming on a driving scoop-shot giving the Tigers a 72 – 81 lead with 4:22 to play in the game.
Watts knocked down a trey to cut the Magic deficit to six points with 3:29 left, but Rickwood banked in a jump-shot from the free-throw line to put the Tigers up by eight. Gill and Watts both made threes late on as the Magic fought to retain their unbeaten status, but as the seconds ticked away they were forced to foul and put the visitors on the line. The Tigers remained composed and made 12 of their final 14 attempts from the charity stripe to leave the Amaechi Centre with an unexpected, but well deserved victory against the league leaders.