In-Depth: Cavs edge Ravens in hard fought match up

There was strong competition and solid basketball as the second week of the 2023/24 season started off with a hard-fought match between Cavaliers and Ravens. The more seasoned Cavaliers took an early lead as Dave Minay worked the inside and Phil Evans shot from outside the arc. Ravens worked hard on defence though and kept the damage to a minimum, but they struggled to find a reply on offence in the opening minutes of the first quarter. The breakthrough came in the 6th minute as quick pace down the court combined with a strong showing from Miltos Provatakis who powered the Ravens to a 4-point lead, 8-12. Minay and Evans managed find some more points in the closing moments, but Ravens held their nerve to take the first quarter by a single point, 13-14.

Provatakis opened the second quarter for Ravens with a quick break and was joined on the scoresheet by Ronan Thompson from the free throw line. Again, the defensive pressure paid dividends for the younger side as they contained the Cavaliers offence, though some difficulties finishing stopped Ravens from pulling away, they maintained their slender lead until halfway through the quarter. Frustrated with a stuttering offence, Cavaliers made a change and big man Minay stepped outside the arc. Two swish 3-pointers finally allowed Cavaliers to pull ahead, and eventually built to a 7-point lead at the end of the second, 33-26.

It seemed like the game was starting to break for Cavaliers but after a short half time Ravens returned with a bang. It was the pressure from defence that again held the Cavaliers low and opened opportunities on the other end of the court which Torryn Jones, Zak Mitchell and Logan Glover were all too happy to seize. Ravens were snapping at the heels of Cavaliers for most of the second quarter and an outside shot from Vannin Coulter brought them neck and neck with their more seasoned opponents. A late spurt from Cavs, initiated by a quick break and first basket for rookie Kyle Furlong, rebuilt the lead. The games stayed close though as Matthew Jones capped the third quarter for Ravens with an outside shot that brought them within 3-points at the buzzer, 43-40.

The final quarter was set to be an epic battle but some early mistakes and missed opportunities cost Ravens dearly as Minay, Furlong and Martin French extended the Cavaliers lead to a solid 12-points in the opening minutes. Ravens never fully recovered from the shock opening though they continued to battle to the end as Jones, Mitchell and Provatakis all converted on the offensive side of the floor. When the final buzzer sounded Cavaliers had held their lead and left the court victors, 57-48, while Ravens planned for their next match-up.

The other matches of the evening saw victories for last season’s championship finalists as Wolves overcame Turkeys and Jets beat out Hoops. Relentless pressure combined with quick pace and outside shooting saw Wolves dominate the opening half against Turkeys, Viktor Capkanovski hitting 4 of Wolves 7 first-half 3s. Turkeys managed a better performance in the second half, with returning veterans Brett Venables and Simon Cowell hitting their mark. It wasn’t enough to catch Wolves though who ran out a comfortable win, 92-52.

Pace proved a strong factor for Jets too as they ran the floor against Hoops on Court 2. Jake Glover racked up points on the break while Danny Harrison hit the mid-range. Hoops put up a strong performance with good movement and solid communication leading to success for Becky Dunne and Gemma Kirkham. A lull in the second and third allowed Jets to build a solid lead though and they took their second win of the season, 102-42, at the final whistle.

Next week sees another 3 games in the Senior League with games tipping off in the NSC Main Hall from 19:00. First on the slate are Hoops and Wolves who are followed at 20:30 by matchups between Jets and Cavaliers while Turkeys play Ravens. Spectators we welcome to attend with courtside seating available for all games.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and The Isle of Man Ladies Basketball team are organising a “Big Pink Game” on Sunday 29th October in aid of the Manx Breast Cancer Support Group. All abilities are welcome to come for an afternoon of fun starting at 2pm. A donation of £3 is asked to play, with all proceeds going to the Manx Breast Cancer Support Group.

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