In-Depth: Jets, Wolves, Cavs & Turkeys secure play-off places

The final round of the regular season saw a trio of hard fought games as teams vied for their place in the Championship play-offs. First to tip off was a swift affair between league leaders Forget Me Not Jets and a youthful Ravens. The game was a must win for the younger side to proceed to the Championship and they came out fighting in the opening quarter with a pace and power that caught the Jets off guard. A succession of baskets from Ronan Thompson and Logan Glover soon had the Ravens flying high while Jets struggled through turbulence. The dying minutes of the first saw the teams trade the lead, neither going more the than a point ahead. A breakthrough came for Jets in the form of Paul Kilic who settled into a solid rhythm at the 3-point line in the dying minute. Three baskets and 9-points later, Jets had taken the first quarter 23-14.

The second quarter saw Jets hit the afterburners as Peter Boussougou and Wayne Mears went on a devastating run, combining inside play with mid-range shots and drives they racked up an impressive 21-points between them. The offensive work was coupled with a strong defensive presence that spooked Ravens and despite moving the ball well their attempts on the basket ground to a halt. It wasn’t until the final minute of the second quarter that Ravens against started to take some chances and Thompson managed to break through to give them their only points of the quarter. Jets were in full control at halftime though, now leading 52-16.

The second quarter effectively sealed the game, Ravens took more shots in the third and fourth and consequently got their scoring going again. Matthew Jones and Miltos Provatakis featured prominently but scoring was spread across the squad making it difficult for Jets to shut down. Jets still managed to keep an edge in each quarter, Boussougou and Mears again the drivers, and so were never in any real danger. With the final buzzer Ravens 2022/23 season ended in the exhaust of Jets, 99-52, and they were left with the slim consolation of the last possession & basket which denied Jets their first century of the season.

The second game of the evening saw a similar affair between Turkeys and Hoops, with Becky Dunne setting a marker for Hoops in the opening seconds with a swish 3-pointer. Turkeys relied on the combo of Wig Bregazzi and Dave Boyle to cut through Hoops defence through out the first but their pace was hampered by effective challenges and solid boxing out. Hoops moved the ball and their players with perfect co-ordination, cracking open gaps in Turkeys defence that allowed almost the entire squad to get on the scoresheet. The solid offensive efforts gave Hoops the edge at the end of the first, 15-17.

The second quarter saw Turkeys break out, again driven by Bregazzi and Boyle, while a more physical inside defence caused trouble for Hoops. It wasn’t without glimmers of hope though, Danielle Murphy outside the arc and Amber Carridge and Oksy Federovych on the inside. They were no longer trading basket for basket with Turkeys though and by halftime Hoops were trailing, 41-26. As with Jets/Ravens it was the second quarter that effectively sealed the game, Hoops shot much better in the second half but didn’t manage to overtake Turkeys pace until the final quarter. At that point there was too much of a mountain to scale and Turkeys advanced to the play-offs, 76-52 at the final buzzer.

The last match of the evening was a closely fought contest between MicroGaming Cavaliers and Wolves. With both teams having already secured their position in the championship – and due to face each other in the first round this Thursday – this game was played more for pride rather than impact on the standings. Cavs relied on outside shooting in the opening quarter, Martin French and Phil Evans providing, but Wolves defence kept the scoreline low and only 3-points separated the teams going into the second quarter. A returning Harry Brindle paired with Michael Pardoe to give Wolves the lead in the second but a late run from James Capelan just before half-time switched it back to Cavaliers, 19-14.

The third saw an explosion from Wolves with quick pace and aggressive defence disrupting Cavaliers flow and drying up their points. A better shooting percentage allowed Wolves to quickly catch and then overtake the Cavs but the teams stayed within a couple of baskets of each other throughout. Tough inside play on both sides dominated the conversation, with Dave Minay dropping from the low post to rack up points for Cavaliers while Cameron Scott fought in the key to mop up offensive boards and put backs for Wolves. Defensive mistakes cost Wolves in the final quarter, quickly getting into team foul trouble and giving Cavaliers 12 free-throws of which they dutifully sank 9. Those 9-points ultimately proved decisive and despite a flurry from Wolves towards the end, it was Cavaliers who came out on top, 53-48. With such a hard fought and close finishing game, both teams will head into the play-off rematch this week with the confidence that they can win and progress to the Championship Final.

The 2022/23 basketball season moves into Championship mode this week with two play-offs ahead of the Arena Court final to be held at 20:00 on Thursday 4th May. Wolves and Cavaliers will go again in the first play-off at 18:20 as Cavs seek to maintain an unbeaten run against Wolves in play-off games while the latter will be hoping that it’s third time lucky to progress to the final. Then at 20:00 current title holders Forget Me Not Jets will face old school veterans Turkeys. Carrying some injuries, Jets will be keen to put the game to bed early to avoid any flare ups while Turkeys will hope to ground any take off as they aim to rekindle former glory.

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