In-depth: Late run helps Turkeys overcome Ravens

There was a hotly contested battle between Ravens and Turkeys in the final night of the Senior Basketball League before the 2023 Christmas Break. Ravens took flight early as Matthew Jones, Miltos Provatakis and Logan Glover all flew down the court on the break on a blistering 8-point run. Turkeys struggled at first but tightened up on defence to slow the Ravens advance. As the first quarter progressed it was Chris Wolfendale and Wig Bregazzi who led the fightback, the former swishing a 3-pointer at the that powered a run in the second half of the quarter. Ravens kept an edge though and, with a final minute basket from Cormac Ewan, they held onto a slender lead, 18-15, at the end of the first.

The second quarter opened in a similar fashion to the first – Ravens flying down the court at blistering pace for a swift run of 8-points this time led by Ewan and Provatakis. Turkeys were again caught off guard but managed to regain composure as the quarter wore on. This time it was Dave Boyle who stepped up lead the response for Turkeys, as Ravens defence kept Wolfendale contained for much of the quarter. As the clock counted down to half the teams traded baskets, Turkeys relying on running the ball through set plays while Ravens relied on a quicker pace and aggressive drives to catch the defence in transition. The game was finely balanced when half-time arrived but momentum seemed to be with Ravens who extended their lead by a single basket, 33-28.

There was plenty of action and drama in the third quarter, Bregazzi opening the scoring for Turkeys within the first few seconds and starting an aggressive run that clipped Ravens wings and had the Turkeys bench clucking with joy. A 9-point swing in the in the mid-quarter turned the game on its head and put the scores at 35-39 to Turkeys as Wolfendale and Boyle joined Bregazzi in tearing open the Ravens defence. Many teams would crumble under such an onslaught but, in a sign of their growing maturity, the young Ravens kept working on both ends of the floor. More effective ball movement and shot selection rewarded the Ravens with a 10-point run of their own that again turned the game on it’s head, 45-39 to Ravens.

Frustrations built on the Turkeys and led to an ejection late in the third quarter that could have snowballed into a collapse for the veteran team. The ruffled feathers were soon put right by Coach Paul Ellison though and a they returned to the floor with a new composure that had a devastating impact on Ravens prospects. The final 90 seconds of the third saw Turkeys work to break Wolfendale free and he capitalised with 6 quick points to draw the teams level. A final shot from Pete Quirk gave Turkeys the edge at the buzzer, 45-47 at the end of the third.

The game was quickly put to bed in the final quarter as Turkeys offence flowed more freely and they carried the momentum forward as Boyle, Quirk and Wolfendale tore through the Ravens defence. The punishing run 11-point run was too much for Ravens to overcome as they battled against Turkeys and the clock. There were some signs of life in the late game, Ewan and Provatakis converting, but it was slim consolation as the game was taken by Turkeys, 55-66, at the final buzzer. The series stands 1-1 between these teams and, with both games having been thrillers, all eyes will be on the next, and final, time they meet in the 2023/24 regular season.

The other games of the evening saw Jets overcome Cavaliers while Wolves won out against Hoops. Jets engines spluttered in the first quarter against Cavaliers, but they roared to life in the second quarter as Revi Del-Rosario and Michael Baker fuelled a 10-point take-off. Final score 58-42 to Jets. Meanwhile, there were hot hands on Wolves who hit season high shooting percentages from the mid-range and 3-point line. Ollie Smith and Ben Campbell led the charge in a 100-31 victory over Hoops.

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