It will be do or die in the final game of the season following the U16s loss to Bristol Storm, 72 – 53 in their penultimate league game. Had Tigers either won the game or lost by fewer than 16 points the team would have finished third in the conference, securing a playoff place.
Now it all comes down to the home game against Coventry Elite. The boys need to win or lose the game by less than 13 points to finish fourth and make the playoffs. Tigers beat Coventry away 72 – 59 last month.
In the first encounter between these two teams, before Christmas Taunton had a comfortable 16 point win over Storm, but from the opening tip Tigers could tell they were in for a fight. Bristol looked much more organized on offense and deployed an aggressive zone press that caused the visitors some problems. The hosts scored the game's first two baskets before Tigers went on a 9 – 2 run to lead the game before Storm then went on a run of its own, closing the quarter ahead 18 – 13.
Taunton began the next quarter the strongest and the game was tied at 19 each after the first three minutes. From that point Storm began to find their range from three-point territory which was a harbinger of the tale of the rest of the game. With Tigers scoring from in close and from free-throws, Bristol threes meant the visitors could not get out in front and went into the half down 31 – 26.
Going into the second half Taunton knew they needed better execution at both ends of the floor if they were to catch Storm—but that wasn't to be. While Tigers missed a succession of easy layups, Bristol rained-down three-pointers. The host's hits four from behind the arc in the quarter, meaning when the boys did manage to score a basket it was always worth one point less than its opponent's scores. A high-paced quarter saw Bristol stretch its lead to seven, 53 – 46.
While still in a position to win the game, Tigers on-going failings on the offensive end became even worse. Taunton only managed a single two-point field goal in the fourth quarter and shot an abysmal 2 – 12 from the free throw line and ended up losing 72 – 53 when the final buzzer went.
Coach Crncich said,
“We have to first of all credit the other team and their coaches as Storm was much better prepared than when we saw them before Christmas. We just weren't good enough in any phase of the game today. We didn't help on defence well enough, we weren't very good in transition either way, we didn't move well without the ball on offence which meant we struggled to get good looks and when we did we didn't finish. The good thing is we have one more chance to put it right and get into the playoffs. We certainly have the potential to beat Coventry and maybe even make some noise in the playoffs, but potential means nothing without hard work and execution.”
The U16s will tip off at 1:15 at the Dome on Saturday with their season on the line.
“We appeal to the whole of the Tiger family and supporters of all clubs to come down and make some noise this Saturday. We are the only club team that has a shot at the playoffs and often a good home crowd can really spur a team on.”