Maroons Pushed All Way by Lions
By Tom Jameson
Monday 03 Oct 2011 22:53:00
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The Bradford Maroons; dressed in green, came to Eston Sports academy intent on improving on last year’s win total which was only three in a season which saw them relegated. They should be under no dissolutions however that division four will be easy.

 

TADEA Middlesbrough Lions 74-88 Bradford Maroons

 

The TADEA Lions themselves have high aspirations this season but while they are awaiting the arrival of their big American, the going got tough against Bradford who used their size to good effect and ran the floor very well.

 

The lack of a big man for Middlesbrough and a below par performance from a number of key players affected Lions plans. There was excitement from a third quarter revival yet the game will be remembered for a crowd reaction that was as passionate as Coach Thomson has ever experienced.

 

The crowd were excellent throughout the game, cheering on the Lions but during the fourth quarter, a number of calls from the refs were viewed as unfavourable and the Lions fans reacted with a vicious chorus of boos and dissatisfaction which threatened to boil over as Lions felt hard done by on a number of occasions.

 

Coach Thomson explained what happened “In the first half I think both teams were victim of a few bad calls, so I had no complaints there as the game evened itself out. I am also of the opinion that we should be in command of a game to the extent a ref’s decision should not dramatically effect us. On this occasion my own frustration boiled over as three big decisions went the other way in succession, two of them involving our players being hit. I sympathise with refs as they perform a very difficult job and this was made even more difficult due to the pressure of the crowd. However they are professionals and the crowd have every right to voice their opinion. After the game, I spoke with both refs and they admitted that mistakes were made at both ends and I respect that.”

 

“The referees didn’t cost us the game, our performance and lack of big man did.”

The game started with much promise as Italian star; Papis Samb hit the first 8pts with some dynamic drives to the hoop. Celo Dennis replied with a 3-pointer for Maroons but it was the 6’7 powerhouse; Adam Gardner who caught the attention as he delivered an ‘And 1’ followed by another two strong buckets to take an 8-10 lead. Some will remember Gardner who signed for Lions last season but was unable to commit due to being based in Harrogate.

 

Richy Summerbell made a nice pull up jump shot in the fifth minute and Papis Samb would add another 6pts in what was an excellent first quarter from Italian Stallion to take a 22-20 lead.

 

In the second quarter Samb continued by opening the period with another fine drive to the basket. Ben Thompson then hit a baseline jump shot to extend the lead to 6pts. From the third minute though, things would go badly wrong for the home team who began leaking points at the back as Robinson was edging too far. Bradford would instigate a 12-2 run and the 2pts Lions managed were 2/4 attempts at free throws. From a 6pt lead, Lions found themselves looking down at a 9pt defecit; 28-37 with three minutes remaining til half time and little signs of improvement on the horizon.

 

The big presence of Gardner was providing Samb with a battle on his hands, Samb seeming to have the better in this period restricted the big man to just 4pts.

At the half time buzzer, the lead was stretched to 11pts following a 3-pointer from Mark Steele, 25-46.

 

The Lions entered the third quarter and looked less than inspiring. There was a lethargic aura about the side. Robinson, Summerbell and O’Connor didn’t look their usual selves. Samb was the only player standing out, hitting 5pts in the first four minutes. In the same time, Bradford hit 10pts, thanks mainly to Greek Nikitcento. Coach Thomson needed a Time Out and later described his next move as a risk but one that paid dividends. The Lions re-entered the court and produced their famed intense press which shocked the Maroons into submission and allowed Lions to produce an incredible 19-2 run to take the lead by 2pts; 61-58. Ceelo Dennis and Reuben Malek halted the run in the final minute and managed to regain the lead 61-63 at the end of the third period.

 

Player/Coach Reuben continued where he left off in the fourth quarter as he added 7pts in the first four minutes. Only Ben Thompson and Samb could reply for Lions. Middlesbrough would only manage 13pts in the final quarter which gave away any hopes of pushing for the win. Things went from bad to worse in the seventh minute when Tom Robinson collected a foul, despite being kicked at and then frustration got the better of him as he picked up two silly fouls to end his part in the game.

The players looked at the refs to blame for losing and seemed prepared for the loss even before the final buzzer.

 

After the game Coach Thomson was disappointed with the performance adding he didn’t recognise some of the players. “From a core of seven players that I would expect to produce the goods, only Papis stood out. There was something wrong with the guys today. We just didn’t look right. We can not blame the refs and I don’t want to blame the lack of the big guy as we did so well last week against Mohawks. Basically we had a bad day at the office. We simply didn’t look right and apart from the first and third quarters we didn’t do enough to deserve the win.”

On a winning side, Papis Samb would have been without doubt the MVP. His driving ability was at times unstoppable on his way to a game high 33pts and he added 9 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks to his tally. Ben Thompson did well on rebounds adding 8, despite being one of the smaller players.

 

The MVP though would go to Nikitcento of Bradford who was not top scorer, adding 10pts but was very efficient and connected with most good plays. The tall Greek added 7 rebounds, including 5 offensive and was 50% from the floor and 3-point range. Big Adam Gardener grabbed 13 boards in support, while Dennis capped an impressive game with 24pts and 7 rebounds.

 

Top Scorers

TADEA Lions: Samb 33, Robinson 13, Summerbell 11, O’Connor 10

Maroons: Dennis 24, Steele 13, Malek 12, Gardener 11, Nikitcento 10                     

The Lions next test will be in two weeks time at home again to Oldaham Titans. Keep updated at www.middlesbroughlions.com

 

photo - Steve Brown

 



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