In-Depth: 2023/24 Season Tips with a full slate

The Isle of Man Basketball Association 2023/24 Senior League season tipped off with a full slate of fixtures on Thursday. This season’s league structure brings a new format, with slightly shorter game slots allowing all Senior teams to compete every week. The opening night saw players knocking off the summer rust in a great evening of basketball action as Hoops faced Cavaliers, Wolves took on Ravens, and Turkeys went head-to-head with Jets.

Hoops and Cavaliers were the night’s first matchup, both teams featuring some fresh faces for the new season. The game got off to a slow start, with tough defence from both teams containing offensive opportunities. Cavaliers may have expected a comfortable ride in their season opener, but Hoops were not to be underestimated with solid baskets from Becky Dunne and inside work by Gemma Kirkham keeping Hoops snapping at Cavs heels for most of the first half. Early 3-pointers from Martin French and Phil Evans proved to be the difference though, Cavaliers leading at halftime 22-16.

Despite solid defensive efforts, Hoops found it challenging to shut down the inside play of Dave Minay in the second half, and the Cavaliers’ offense began to click, pushing them further ahead as the clock ticked on. Some late outside shooting from Dunne and Danielle Murphy gave Hoops a final quarter boost but the result was already in the bag for Cavaliers who ran out winners, 65-34.

In the second game of the evening, Turkeys took on Jets, with the former team welcoming back alumni Simon Cowell and Brett Venables who suited up for a final hurrah with Turkeys. Jets came out strong in the first quarter, pushing the break to make the most of their speed advantage. Their high-octane offense continued to dominate throughout the game, Jake Glover running the lanes while Tom Dalton-Brown and newcomer David Laszlo racked up baskets. The combination proved lethal to Turkeys and going into halftime Jets held a solid lead, 59-20.

The relentless pace continued in the second half for Jets, Wayne Mears and Revi Del Rosario joining their teammates on the scoresheet. Turkeys showed some life in the back half of the third quarter with Chris Wolfendale leading the charge from outside the arc while David Boyle found the mid-range. Despite their best efforts though, they were unable to mount a comeback as Jets adjusted and stopped any momentum from building. Maintaining a solid control of the game, Jets took the win 93-37 at the buzzer.

The final game of the evening featured a showdown between Clubmates Wolves and Ravens, the latter being the rookie team and coached by Wolves player Michael Pardoe. Wolves came into the game in high spirits after their victory in last season’s final and may have expected an easy start to the new campaign against their youthful rivals. Ravens were not to be underestimated though and came out of the blocks fighting with a solid defence and an aggressive push on offence that soon had Wolves on the back foot. Miltos Provatakis and Logan Glover found early success for Ravens on the drive, and it was only through the efforts of Kyle Mills and Ross Wilson that Wolves stayed ahead, 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.

Wolves started stronger in the second quarter, Viktor Capkanovski, Ben Takken and Harry Brindle all racking up points. Ravens didn’t give up easily though and continued pushing the break and shifting the ball to find wide gaps in a leaky Wolves defence. They couldn’t manage to pull as close as the end of the first quarter though and as the game progressed Wolves extended a healthy lead, eventually finishing victors 70-44 at full time.

This Thursday sees another full slate of games tipping off with Cavaliers vs Ravens at 19:00 in the NSC Main Hall. Then Turkeys will play Wolves, and Hoops will take on Jets to complete the line up for the night, both games tipping off at 20:30. Free seating is available in the NSC Main Hall for any spectators wishing to attend.

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