The big top of the table clash was ruined as a contest by serious injuries to two of Tigers' leading players. Both Ben Hayes and Jon Orrells had to leave the game with what looked like nasty ankle injuries. Hayes' injury was particularly damaging in the context of the match, as it was just a few minutes old when, having driven to the basket, he fell awkwardly and was immediately clearly out of the game. In the third quarter, Orrells limped out of the game in very similar circumstances. When Kester Duncan was carried off with a knee problem in the fourth quarter, the side of the court began to look more like a scene from M*A*S*H than a basketball hall.
Robbed of Hayes' defensive energy Tigers were always going to struggle against a strong Plymouth side whose only defeat of the season had been in the earlier match-up between the sides. And so it turned out. The Marjon team, which relied almost exclusively on their starting-five and one player, in particular, who scored 50 of their points, coasted to a 44 point win.
After fiercely fought opening exchanges, the other Taunton players appeared shaken by the Hayes injury (which held the game up for several minutes) and, by the time they had regained their composure, the game was probably already over as a contest. The home side raced out to a 26 – 4 lead in a spell during which Tigers' only scores came from an Orrells 3-pointer and a free-throw from Dom Hinchliffe. Adam Hood, who seemed to relish the challenge of the occasion and put in probably his best all-round performance of the season, then got on the score sheet. Orrells claimed the last 2 points of the quarter, but his side were down by a massive 28 – 8.
Tigers' offence got going a bit more effectively in the second quarter. A rebound and put-back from Hood began the period and he followed that up with a lay-up from a neat in-bounds pass from Jack Penny. Penny then also scored, on the end of some good transition basketball and the scoreboard began to look slightly more encouraging at 36 – 18. After a slow start, though, Plymouth began to get into their stride too and closed the half out with an 11 – 2 run which ended any hopes of a Taunton comeback.
The Tigers players can take great credit from the way they stuck to the task in the second half. At no stage did their heads go down in what were very difficult circumstances. In fact, the longer the game went on the better their team play became. Coaches Matt Nolan and Gary Carter gave plenty of court time to the younger players in the squad, who showed that future looks bright. Spencer Gormley, Kester Duncan and David Grenfell all scored points and Bodhi Kambouris showed great confidence on the ball in the face of some much bigger and more experienced opponents.
After the game Nolan looked at the positives,
“There's no way I can be upset about the performance the lads put in. The very early injury to Ben Hayes clearly had a massive effect on the game, as we missed the defensive intensity he brings. Adam Hood and Dan Burke-Ward play huge roles today, though, and there was some really good team play from the Under 13s in the side.”
The defeat puts Tigers 2nd in the table and assured of a play-off spot, but they must beat Exeter Eagles in their last match to ensure a home tie.