Lions Cruel Defeat
By Tom Jameson
Monday 17 Jan 2011 18:07:00
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Basketball can be a cruel game sometimes and TADEA Middlesbrough Lions coach; James Thomson struggled to explain what went wrong after a great crowd of around 200 watched their side lead Stockport for over three quarters to eventually lose by 6pts.

 

TADEA Middlesbrough Lions 86-92 Stockport Falcons

 

“I am trying to work out what went wrong, there was nothing visibly wrong and overall the whole team played well enough to deserve a comfortable victory. There were factors that affected the game including Tom (Robinson)  hurting his eye just before half time and then a few calls going against us at crucial times in the last quarter. When Tom, DaWaun (Wells) and John (Ford) fouled out with less than a minute the game was over. I cant blame the refs though, as much as the calls were slightly unfair, they were overall very good and consistent both ways which is all you can ask of the officials.” Said Coach Thomson. “I believe our main problem was rebounds and free throws.”

 

The big picture becomes apparent when a look at the stats shows rebounding Stockport grabbed 56 rebounds, a massive 21 more than Lions. As the Lions chief also indicated, free throws were a problem at both ends with Lions converting only 9 of 19 attempts while Stockport went to the line for an incredible 42 shots and made 25 of them. 32 of these were in the second half.

 

Although this will be of little consolation, Lions managed to hit 86pts past a side that is renowned for its defence. Falcons had kept free scoring Huddersfield and Warrington to just 67pts while the previous day they kept Wirral to just 12pts in the entire first half.

 

The game started with a stutter as TADEA Lions American star DaWaun Wells fumbled a dunk but made amends seconds later when he slammed home with authority to take the lead 2-0. Both teams then traded baskets with big Stuart Griffiths opening the Falcons account. TADEA Lions were missing athletic big man Rob Wright however Anthony Humes was proving a worthy replacement as he collected some big rebounds. A nice shot from the baseline would follow at the mid point of the quarter as Middlesbrough looked strong from all areas. In the sixth minute Anthony Kuczaj went back door for an easy lay up to keep within 3pts of the home side, 10-07. Middlesbrough were able to counter as they placed pressure on the visitors and forced them into errors. Matt Taylor made a nice jump shot from the top of the key in the seventh minute and then followed with an ‘And 1’ play although the veteran missed his free throw. In the last minute Lions upped the ante as Wells drove to the basket and Robinson hit two baseline jump shots, the latter beating the buzzer to finish the quarter up 22-16.

 

In the second quarter Ben Malik hit a long range 2pts while Lions countered via the impressive Robinson who hit 6pts in a row. Kevin Hodgers broke the run and Malik added another shot but Lions were still good for the lead, 5pts in front, 30-25 and this was extended when Ryon Dixon connected a 3-pointer. The going was good for Middlesbrough as Wells added a big 3-pointer. Not to be left out, Stockport fired a 3 through Kuczaj but Humes would keep Lions 8pts ahead with a powerful lay up.

 

With just a minute to go Lions would have their momentum disrupted as Robinson took a poke to the eye and had to be removed from the game. Wells was also given a rest and the team struggled to cope without the two most influential players. A 12pt lead turned into a 4pt lead after Daniel Michaleson-Yeates inspired a 9-2 run.

 

The last 40 seconds was probably the turning point of the game and provided Stockport with a well timed boost as they entered half time down 46-41 but with a new wave of momentum.

 

The third quarter began without Tom Robinson who was still recovering from his eye injury, but the Lions battled on and 15 year old Patrick O’Connor on his senior National League debut proved he was more than capable as he hit a long range jump shot and followed this with a good rebound and put back to enormous applause from the crowd. Ben Thompson then made a good cut and received a superb pass from Anthony Humes to take the scores to 52-45. From the fourth minute onwards Lions fouls were becoming a problem as the Falcons were sent to the line seven times. In the fifth minute an 11-3 run was produced by Stockport with a sole 3-pointer from Wells aiding the Lions cause. As close as the Falcons came though, TADEA Lions still controlled the lead. The momentum though was shifting severely towards the visitors and this was not helped when Robinson had a lapse in concentration, not marking his man and then when trying to recover fouling Craig Youngs on a 3-point shot. Youngs would go to the line to convert all three attempts and Robinson would have to be withdrawn after collecting his fourth foul.

 

Ben Thompson, held his nerve well for Lions late in the third, adding four points, while Wells connected another 3-pointer to maintain a slender 2pt lead, 68-66.

 

The final quarter saw three 3-pointers in the first minute, with Falcons edging it 2-1. The last from Michaelson-Yeates provided Stockport with their first lead of the game. Wells drove to the basket in the second minute and was fouled in the next play to go to the line. Uncharacteristically, the American would miss both attempts and this would become a sad tale of the final quarter for Middlesbrough. The game was within 1pt until the last minute when 5 free throws from Stockport took them to 84-90. During this Wells fouled out after being called for an innocuous foul to the dismay of the home team and fans. Robinson would follow suit shortly after as would Ford. Thompson hit the last shot for Lions however the game was over and as Hodgers hit his first free throw the score finished 86-92.

 

The MVP was a hard choice with Tom Robinson the stand out player for Lions and top scorer on 26pts. The award though must rightly go to one of three Falcons with Malik, Kuczaj and Hodgers all displaying credible performances and with 9pts in the final quarter including some big free throws when it counted, the award was give to Kevin Hodgers.

 

Top Scorers

TADEA Lions: Robinson 26, Wells 20, Humes 10

Falcons: Kuczaj 21, Malik 20, Hodgers 18

 

TADEA Lions must now pick themselves up and prepare for the visit of Hull Wasps to Eston Sports Academy this Sunday. Hull boast one of the players of the league in John Brignall and will be more than a handful. Middlesbrough though always seem to step up to the challenge, as proven against Stockport, who have already beaten Warrington, Huddersfield and Hull. Spectators are asked to be seated by 3.30pm and Tickets are available from only £4 adults and £3 children. A family ticket at just £12 is also available. For more details visit www.middlesbroughlions.com

or call 01642 814221.

 

(Photo Paul Gaythorpe)

 

 



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