Tigers cruised to a 103 – 69 win against Mansfield Express to book a tantalising a tantalising ¼ final play-off showdown with big rivals Leicester Warriors this Sunday at Wellsprings. With Taunton needing a win to confirm their 3rd place finish in the National Division 2 league and Mansfield needing a victory to avoid the drop, this promised to be a tense affair.
Indeed the first 6 minutes suggested that the game could go to wire as baskets were exchanged on the way to a narrow 17 – 16 lead for Taunton. The next 4 minutes however would effectively see the game end as a context with the Tigers exploding into a 18 – 0 streak finishing the quarter 35 – 16. It was sponsors day at the Tigers and the large crowd could have been excused for wishing for a closer contest.
Mansfield fighting for their life never gave up though and Omope (26 points) one of the stars of the league proved a real handful. However it was the depth and intensity of Taunton that once again that provided the difference. By the 13 minute of the game all 12 players had scored for the Tigers making them impossible to defend and confirming their reputation as the leagues most potent offensive force.
It was the Taunton's most experienced players Graham Jones and Matthew Nolan that lead the way for the home-side refusing to let ‘The Express’ settle for any moment during the game. Jones finished top scorer with 16 points whilst Nolan (MVP) gave the Mansfield guards a torrid time whilst demonstrating that he himself has a full offensive Arsenal.
An electrifying spell by Junior Jordan Seeley saw the game off late in the 3rd quarter allowing everyone to turn their attention to the quarter-finals this weekend.
Leicester Warriors will provide a much sterner test for the Tigers. Fresh from their success in the Patron's Cup (League Cup) they will arrive with some confidence following a 20 point win against Taunton last time out. When they met earlier in the season at Wellsprings the intensity level spilled over into violence and 4 of the Warriors players were disqualified from the game. Taunton though will draw on the home support and the confidence drawn form their recent performances and winning streak.
Coach Ronnie Heath feels his team has peaked at the right time,
“We are delighted with our 15 – 7 record and 3rd place finish in our first season together in Division 2. The truth is though we would be disappointed if we don't carry our form through to challenge for honours. We are the form team in the league right now and should not fear anyone.”
Supporters can expect one of the highlight games of the year at Wellsprings this weekend. Fans should be reminded that the tip-off is 16:00 on Sunday (1st April) and are encouraged to arrive early to ensure that seats are available. Payment on the door £2 children, £4 Adults.