This past Saturday saw the high-powered and undefeated Arden Griffins visit the Dome to take on the U16s who were coming off a big win the previous weekend to rivals Bristol Academy Flyers. The Griffins showed why they have gone largely unchallenged this season and beat Tigers 71 – 56 in a mostly exciting see-saw contest.
Going into the game Taunton's focus was on defence. The team needed to set a tone against an offense that had averaged well over 20 points per quarter in the initial period, and that's exactly what the boys did. The visitors struggled against back-court pressure and only managed to score 12 to Tigers 16.
The game, however, turned on its head in the second period. With the hosts struggling to score from anywhere, Arden opened with a 7 – 1 run in the first four minutes of the period forcing a Tigers timeout to try to steady the ship. Despite the break the offense continued to flounder and Taunton was only able to add two more buckets in the second while the visitors continued to pour it on. After a miserable five point output in the period, the boys were still well in the game, trailing by 8 points, 29 – 21, at the half.
Coach Mark Crncich said,
“We got out to exactly the kind of start that I asked from the team. Our defensive effort and desire were tremendous and despite missing shots we got good looks on offense. From there it was 10 minutes of hell. We continued to cause their offense problems in spite of their big size advantage, but we were atrocious at the other end. We mishandled several passes that should have resulted in easy layups and we just couldn't put anything down in the half court. But, I had seen enough in that first quarter to show me that we were still well in this game.”
Tigers came out with increased focus to begin the second half. The offense adjusted to the visitors' sag and switch defence and began to click allowing Taunton to reduce the deficit to 3, 39 – 36 with three minutes left in the third. Then a succession of ill-timed turnovers coupled with poor defensive transition allowed Arden to dominate the last part of the penultimate quarter and stretch their lead to 15.
That lead proved too much for the hosts. Poor finishing plagued Tigers and the final quarter saw the boys trade baskets with the Griffins for a 71 – 56 final score. Seniors Dom Hinchliffe, Yosef Elo Gab and Ben Hayes led the attack with 19, 12 and 10 points respectively.
Coach Crncich said,
“Despite their record, size and age advantage I really felt that was a game we could have won. We are a very age-diverse group with players who were born in 1995, 96 and 97, while it was clear that they were a mostly 95-born team. But that's no excuse. When a team shoots just over 30 per cent from the field, hits three for 11 free throws and commits 19 turnovers, you're going to struggle against most teams. We need to work harder on maintaining a consistently high defensive effort, our finishing and achieving more balance in our scoring. I'm confident that we can achieve all of those things.”
Next, Tigers take their 2 – 0 road record away to a tough Coventry Elite team on Saturday, November 5, before hosting Sporting Club West Bromwich Albion on November 12 at the Dome where they will look for their first win at home.