Category: Press Report

SECONDS AWAY – BUT THEY LOSE ON POINTS!

With their first team unbeaten and topping the league Tile Hill Trojans 2 were hoping they could get onto the victory trail themselves when they travelled the short distance to Woodlands, but Warwick China Red had other ideas.

The match was played, as usual with China Red, at a fast and furious pace, but the students from Warwick University had to fight all the way before coming from behind to beat Trojans’ seconds 64-56, a win which they did not look like achieving as the game entered the final quarter.

It had been nail-biting all through, but Trojans had sneaked ahead to lead 44-39 and they looked to be in control as China Red floundered. But it all turned in two minutes as the home side’s shots began to drop and suddenly it was the visitors’ turn to panic as they now trailed 44-51. Egis Baliunas pulled them back with a strong inside game but their hosts went again and desperation crept into the Tile Hill play. But they made it four points down with three minutes left and it was game on once more, but that was where Warwick China Red found that the net was in receiving mode and they saw themselves home with a late flurry.

Baliunas hit 18 for Trojans as Nolan and Zhuang shared 30 for China Red who finally got their elusive first win.

JM Grizzles also went in search of their opening victory and almost pulled it off against Cracovia Stratford, before falling 56-58 to their local rivals. Grizzles coach Ian A’Kempis was most unhappy with his side’s second period performance which brought them just three points, and cost them the lead as Stratford took control to move six clear going into the final quarter. Grizzles hit hard to grab the initiative at 52-48 but missed free-shots and a burst of activity at the other end saw Stratford return home with the points.

Tamworth Tigers took their full squad to Tile Hill where Trojans 1 showed their class to thwart the offensive play of their visitors. Coming out of the trap like greyhounds to lead by ten after five minutes, Trojans stalled and were pegged back as Tigers made it 27-21 before their offense was shut out and the home side made a run which brought the interval scores to 40-23. Then it took Trojans almost seven minutes to notch their first points of the third quarter before normality returned to Hereward College and they regained control of the Tiger’s hoop to ease home 68-44.

Arden Griffins visited Leamington for the first time and showed Spartans why they are up there with the best at the top of the division. Griffins won 92-58 with a super show from their leading scorers. Paul Roberts landed another five three-pointers, taking him to over forty for the season and his 23 point haul was well supported by Sam Workman and Luke Hatfield who both grabbed 19, while Michael O’Neill had a good spell to land 12 for the league’s newest club.

HAWKS GROUNDED AS TROJANS SOAR

It could have been billed “The Clash of the Titans” but the first big game of the season featured Trojans and Hawks with the result going the way of Coventry’s leading side.

Tile Hill Trojans are almost as old as Aylesford Hawks, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and their rivalry has spanned that time with first one, then the other reigning supreme. So, with a build-up which conjured up memories of some of the battles that have taken place over nearly half a century, they lined up at Hereward College, both defending unbeaten records.

There are no draws in basketball so something was going to give and it was not so much blood and thunder, but plenty of thunder as the two went head-to-head from the off. Trojans bossed things initially, racing into a 9-0 lead before Hawks found their range. Then the game came alight as the pair slugged it out. Sitting on a 34-19 advantage it looked good for the home side, but Hawks rallied to get to within six at 56-50 as former Trojans youngster George Poole now showing poise and power took control of the ball and Hawks stemmed the flow at the other end of the court.

Now it was all on the final quarter, but a fifth foul in the first minute put Hawks top scorer Ricky Fennell on the bench, and Matt Glover nursing a sore groin as Trojans seized the moment and cashed in. Richard Onions, having his best game for many a month led the charge as time closed in, and the home side finishing with a 16-4 period which saw the final score reading 78-56. Onions made 24 points with a massive contribution coming at the defensive end, and he was well supported with Ash Dickson’s 20, while beleaguered Hawks had Poole’s 15 at the top of their list.

With Trojans now clear at the top the focus moved to second place and Coventry College took that spot as Arden Griffins had their court closed at short notice. College played host to Trojans 2 and the gulf between them was emphasised in the result, with College taking a 76-49 win. The strong College side opened up a 40-19 lead by half-time and extended this by ten without reply to put the result beyond doubt as Vaidas Cerkunovas led on 27.

Tamworth Tigers have found comfort in Division One with several new recruits coming on board for their first season in the top flight for a long time, and their height, power and overall supremacy showed when they went to JM Grizzles who must be wondering what they have to do to get their first win on the board. Grizzlies were undone in the first quarter as three-pointers rained in at both ends, and Tigers grabbing seven to their hosts’ three to see the half-time score reading 37-30 in favour of the Staffordshire side before a surge in the third period took them clear and on to a 72-57 win.

Victories for Leamington Spartans and Cracovia Stratford saw them move up the table with Coventry Tornadoes and Ernesford Eagles being the respective victims in these two games, while a last minute effort from Iain Maxwell was off-target and that gave the points to Nuneaton Predators in the thrilling game at The Jubilee Centre in Division Two’s only fixture.

EAGLES SEEK PLAYERS BUT GET VITAL WIN

It could have gone either way, but with some frantic defensive play, Ernesford Eagles held out to deny a first win of the season for JM Grizzles.

Eagles, one of Coventry’s oldest club sides are desperate for new players, but the ones who showed up at The Bridge Sports Centre in Warwick fought as if their lives depended on it as Grizzles tried to claim that elusive victory to kick-start their season.

The end result was a narrow 47-45 win for Eagles in a game which saw the scores moving in tandem throughout, after Grizzles had recovered from a wretched start which left them 12-3 down. Coach Ian A’Kempis rotated his players regularly, giving them all court time as the two sides slugged it out, and a 26-26 half-time was followed by an almost single-handed scoring performance from Ben Clarke who took Eagles to the brink with three minutes left and an eight point advantage. But he fouled out as the tempo increased and Grizzlies pressed. Free shots resulted from the fouls, with all bar one converted by the youngsters playing alongside veteran Steve Impey and suddenly Warwick were back at 45-45.

Kareem Lee dropped one in as the seconds ticked away to put Eagles ahead once more but despite a last ditch effort, Grizzles could not land the one they wanted and Eagles landed safely.
Clarke led them with 22 points and Mauro Goncalves did his bit with 19, but it was on defense where they excelled, keeping Grizzles at bay with only Richard McMylor in double figures on 11.

Top scorer Lukasz Bolda picked up two unsportsmanlike fouls in the opening fifteen minutes of Tamworth Tigers biggest game so far which saw him leave the arena and this gave Tigers the near impossible task of getting something from their home game against high-flying Arden Griffins. It was, however, a thoroughly entertaining game which was, as usual dominated by the three-point shooting of Griffins hot-shots Luke Hatfield and Paul Roberts.

With Tigers in the hunt at 32-34 the dynamic duo let fly and hurtled to 48-67 as Tigers offense floundered. But they charged in the final quarter with a flurry of baskets getting them to within nine points before the experienced Griffins closed it out to go top, Hatfield grabbing 34 and Roberts 19.

Mixed success seems to follow Tile Hill Trojans around at the moment with the first team culling all around them and the seconds going the other way. Trojans 1 nailed Tornadoes to the mast as Ash Dickson led them to another ton, while Aylesford Hawks showed they are not to be discounted as they continued their unbeaten run with a comfortable win at Hereward College thanks largely to 45 from an impressive Ricky Fennell. Warwick China Red saw negativity as they crashed at home to Cracovia Stratford as the visitors dominated the second half to win with ease.

Division Two leaders Rugby Rage had to come from behind to beat Tile Hill Trojans 3 but eventually wore down their hosts with Guntars Trabliks leading the way on 24, and Westwood Rhinos got over the line with a 68-57 win over Nuneaton Predators.

ELITE TEAMS SPARKLE IN POINTS SPREE

As the elite teams continue to crush those who were promoted from Division Two, the
gulf between them was emphasised in the results of the latest round of games.

Such is the gulf in the strength, skill and power of the top four sides against the rest, that most
are already fighting it out for minor placings in the new-style Division One which has seen the
entire second tier elevated to create a more diverse competition and replace the mundane regular
meetings which were becoming established in the past couple of seasons.
A look at the league table suggests a few are bucking this trend, but they have yet to come up
against the powerhouses of Warwickshire Basketball although this will happen very soon as the
fixtures offer a variety of opportunities to them to test their ability.

This was evident in all of the recent fixtures, where Tile Hill Trojans, Aylesford Hawks and Arden
Griffins, who have shared the Championship title between themselves for the past seven years, all
crushed their opposition, and only Tamworth Tigers made their hosts sweat, before they went
down 78-72 at Coventry College. It was a shame for Tigers, who had half of their team delayed
on the M42 and the game had already started when they arrived in Bell Green to find College 17-4
ahead. The remaining players, devoid of the usual warm-up buckled down and gave College a
tough time, winning the second and third periods before capitulating in the final minutes as the
Coventry side dropped in enough points to stave off any embarrassment and send Tigers home
frustrated.

Elsewhere, Trojans 1 hammered JM Grizzles with several double-figure bursts, and Aylesford
made the lives of Warwick China Red difficult from the start as they raced into a 25-5 first quarter
lead before ending the first half on 44-12. Arden travelled to Coventry Tornadoes who were blown
away with an equally devastating display, Griffins taking the final quarter 31-3 as three-pointers
once more rained down on the Tornadoes’ basket.

Leamington Spartans had to come from behind in the last few minutes to get the better of Tile Hill
Trojans 2 who will be ruing the missed shots and turnovers which followed them around in the
run-in to the buzzer. Trojans were eight ahead with five minutes left when their offensive play
dried up and seventeen points rattled through their hoop before the end.

Cracovia Stratford proved too hot for Ernesford Eagles, who are desperate to bring in new players
to give them a stronger squad and help them compete. Those who made the trip to Stratford tried
their best, but Eagles, without Ben Clarke look weak and in for a tough time. Stratford, on the
other hand looked good, particularly either side of half-time when they took the score from 13-11
to 56-21 before switching off and letting Eagles get something from the fixture.

There was a dream debut for Andreas Papadrosos who slammed home 45 points for Rebels as
they beat Westwood Rhinos 67-56, while Nuneaton crashed 60-88 to Rugby Rage , both in
Division Two.

GRIFFINS SHOW CLASS TO GRAB RECORD SCORE

Arden Griffins were back to their best and hit the highest score in a Warwickshire
Basketball League game for seven years as they slammed Tile Hill Trojans 2 126-50.
And it was a personal best by far for Griffins’ sharp-shooter Paul Roberts, who downed twelve
three-pointers on his way to a 38 point total as he left Trojans players watching on in awe, hurling
them in from almost every part of the court.
It was obviously going to be an exciting affair as both he and Trojans’ Ben Linnett had two triples
apiece inside four minutes, but the Arden man was able to continue his barrage, with a display
which saw Griffins eclipse all the other high scores which have been run-up since WU Lithuanians
hammered Onley 150-51 back in 2011.
Both sides put on a thrilling first quarter which saw Griffins leading 38-24, but a switch in
defensive play to man-to-man marking, completely stifled the Trojans offensive play leading to
single-figure returns in the ensuing periods as the Solihull side made hay. Not to be outdone by
his colleague, Sam Workman also found the target more than once to bag 34 points for Griffins
with Bhuwan Limbu leading for Trojans on14.
Trojans first team fared much better in their home fixture against Warwick China Red, coming out
94-50 winners as the League Champions cashed in on their height, experience and skill
advantages to thwart the plucky students. Already ahead and on their way to victory, the fourth
quarter brought a 27-4 burst for Trojans for whom Ash Dickson scored 18 and returning Scott
Owen 16.
Leamington Spartans came out in top in the first local derby against JM Grizzlies from Warwick. It
was Grizzlies’ inability to capitalise on their free shooting which cost them the game. They went to
the line 27 times and hit just 9 of these attempts before going down 43-40.
Coventry College showed Cracovia Stratford how it should be done as they travelled to the Bard’s
town and returned with an 88-74 win. Stratford are building a good side full of potential, but the
College held too many aces and took the points on the back of a 23-12 final quarter which broke
the resistance of the home side despite 28 coming from Jamie Summers.
But still leading the way at the top of the table are Tamworth Tigers, who have yet to meet the
elite sides in the re-vamped competition. Tigers are basking in the glory of a 100% record from
three games, with their latest success coming at Tornadoes where they crushed the home side
79-48 after an opening blitz which took them 25-12 ahead.
Rugby Rage edged past Tile Hill Trojans 3 51-48 in Division Two to continue their unbeaten run,
and Team Rebels were far too strong for Nuneaton Predators and they chalked up an impressive
76-55 first win of their campaign.

SPARTANS WIN BATTLE AT CHINA RED

New-boys Leamington Spartans gained their first win to kick-start their season with a
64-46 victory over Warwick China Red at Woodlands.
Spartans applied for a place in the second tier of Warwickshire Basketball but were, like the rest of
these sides, thrust into a much-enlarged top flight and came through their opening match fearing
they had bitten off more than they could chew. But, a terrific final quarter against lively Warwick
china Red saw them take the points from their hosts who caved in after holding out for most of
the first half.
It was an encouraging all-round team display from the Leamington side who trailed 25-23 at halftime
but found their touch early in the last quarter as China Red fell away from 43-51 to let in
eleven more points without disturbing the Spartans’ net.
Coventry College bounced back from defeat to downgrade Tornadoes to a mere storm with a 72-
54 win as Vaidas Cerkunovas grabbed the headlines with 35 points. Plucky Tornadoes stayed with
their visitors until near the end of the third period when College swept from 48-47 to 60-49 in a
five minute spell to kill off their hosts.
Ricky Fennell has one eye on the Hotshot award already, and he slammed home 42 points as
Aylesford Hawks continued their fine form to ease past Cracovia Stratford 79-67 in a thriller at
Moreton Morrell. Hawks led 26-8 at one time, and then 55-33 before Stratford found their range
with a quartet of three-pointers, but they had left it too late, and as triples rained in a both ends
Hawks proved too good with Fennell having a field day.
Chasing Hawks at the top of the league are surprise package Tamworth Tigers who came through
yet another game unscathed. Following their win against Leamington they made a happy return
from Hereward College, where Tile Hill Trojans 2 were on the wrong end of a 44-64 result. Lukasz
Bolda led the Tigers’ charge with 23 while Trojans cannot wait to get their full team together and
realise their potential with three regular starters missing this game.
There was a serious demolition threat as Arden managed to complete their fixture at JM Grizzles
with a full five players on court. And they tore into Grizzles from the off, building a 48-19 first half
lead which had the Warwick side gasping. A total of ten three-pointers contributed to their 90-56
scoreline as Sam Workman came good with 25 to complement Luke Hatfield’s 20.
Tile Hill Trojans 1 game at Ernesford and their third team’s fixture at Rebels were called off for
court availability problems. This meant that the champions had a quiet week and, with their
veterans following suit, there was just one game left in Division Two. Westwood Rhinos had
several players missing from their usual squad and visitors Nuneaton Predators took full
advantage to gain their first win, as they ran out with a 56-43 victory. Trailing 35-14 at half-time,
Rhinos were pleased to see Matt Bevis who joined the fray to help them achieve something like a
score as they restricted Nuneaton to just nine points in the final period.

FIRST BLOOD TO CRACOVIA STRATFORD

A sensational start to the opening game of the season against 2015 champions Arden
Griffins brought a shock 100-68 victory for Cracovia Stratford.
Arriving at The Stratford Leisure Centre with the minimum five players, Griffins had the misfortune
to see Lee Fraser led off the court just three minutes into the first period with blood streaming
from a split nose, forcing him out of the game and leaving the remaining four players to sweat it
out for almost the entire playing time.
As it was, they performed heroically and had Stratford all over the place as they sped into a 25-12
first quarter lead, before they were worn down and finally ran out of stamina and ideas with
Stratford piling into them to take advantage of their misfortune.
Griffins were still battling at half-time as they trailed by one, but their collapse came in period
three when former National League player Kane Hudson stepped on the gas to fire Cracovia to an
unassailable lead which saw them go from 44-43 to 72-55 and, for Griffins the end could not
come soon enough. Hudson nailed 21 points for the hosts and Luke Hatfield hit 32 for Griffins who
can’t wait for the return when they can get their full squad out.
Champions Tile Hill Trojans 1 swept past Coventry College 74-58, with five players in double
figures and only last season’s top scorer Vaidas Cerkunovas the leading light for College. He made
26 but lacked the support of another strike player as Trojans powered up to a 69-42 lead before
easing off in the run-in to the end.
A battered and bruised Leamington Spartans, returned home pointless from their 82-51 reversal
at last season’s Division Three winners Tamworth Tigers. Spartans captain Jan Suk said, “They
played as a real first division side and were much bigger and better than we expected.” Spartans
also had a player nursing a cut above the eye after being caught in an accidental collision with
“one of the giants” as Suk called them.
Aylesford Hawks looked impressive in their opener and they clinically disposed of Coventry
Tornadoes 94-45, courtesy of 33 from Ricky Fennell, whose total included seven three-pointers.
Tornadoes had no answer to Hawks play and were torn apart from the start, going 29-8 down
after one period and trailing 59-14 at half-time before rallying somewhat in the latter stages.
Both Ernesford Eagles and Tile Hill Trojans 2 fielded weak sides at Hereward College, and Eagles
were happy to record a 46-43 victory, coming from behind in the last minute to thwart the home
side, as Ben Clarke starred for the visitors on 20.
Division Two fixtures saw victories for Westwood Rhinos who defeated Tile Hill Trojans 3 50-44,
and Rugby Rage, who travelled to Team Rebels before going home on the back of a 73-58 win.

Griffins Turn Table to Land Cup

Tile Hill Trojans 78-95 Arden Griffins
The fourth and final meeting in as many weeks of the two giants of Warwickshire
Basketball was supposed to see the climax of Trojans’ season, but a woeful first quarter saw them capitulate and the Bob Castledine Handicap Cup went back with the holders.

The enigmatic Tile Hill side, who had looked so confident and capable a week earlier as they disposed of Griffins’ challenge for the league title, found the going tough and were still smarting from seeing Arden’s handicap start increased from 5 to 15 points. The wily visitors to Hereward College took full advantage though to thwart Trojans with some impressive defensive work, while at the other end, their three-point machine Paul Roberts struck early as Griffins forged ahead to lead 29-5 and Trojans hopes of doing the “double” evaporating.

Finally, in the second period they upped their game and the come-back was on. From 31-13 down, they climbed to 34-28 before Arden halted the charge with baskets of their own as the tempo increased. Dominik Gorgol had three triples soar through the Arden hoop, but Alan Wood countered to take the half-time score to 51-41 in favour of the Solihull side and the scene was set for a riveting second half.

Trojans Power to Fifth Title

Tile Hill Trojans 86-58 Arden Griffins
Tile Hill Trojans powered their way to their fifth Warwickshire Basketball League title
in seven years with a devastating display against Arden Griffins at Hereward College and cannot now be caught at the top.
This was a complete reversal of the game which had taken place the previous week between the two sides, when Griffins threatened to upstage the Champions elect by grabbing their second win over the Coventry side, but defeats in other games meant that Trojans just had to win this one in order to secure the title.
They set about Griffins in whirlwind fashion, scorching out of the blocks to lead 24-12 after the first quarter, with Arden’s usually accurate three-point shooters failing to penetrate the Trojans’ hoop. The second and third periods were more evenly balanced as Paul Roberts’ efforts began to drop and Griffins clawed their way back into it.

Trojans Edge Nearer Fifth Title

Tile Hill Trojans took a massive step towards their fifth Division One title in seven years by gaining revenge and defeating Arden Griffins as the pace hots up.
Trojans have marched away at the top of the table as the others managed to defeat each other and rule themselves out; that is, apart from Griffins who are facing a titanic battle to complete their remaining games before the season ends. They are coming thick and fast for the Solihull- based club who have suffered a wretched run of postponements, leaving them with another seven matches to play, and, they have to win them all in order to surge to the top. One of their major problems is, that they have to face off to Trojans another twice, with both games being on the Coventry club’s home court at Hereward College.

Griffins are the only side to win at Tile Hill this season, and they did it with an impressive final quarter, back in November, but they could not reproduce this in their latest encounter, as Trojans dominated from the off to go 29-15 up after a frantic first quarter.
However much they threatened and they did this regularly throughout an entertaining game, Trojans held firm with Ash Dickson driving through and shooting with dexterity to steer his side towards that coveted title, landing 37 points in the process.
The game was not without its controversy, including one moment when the referee Paul Sidhu called both coaches together to warn them about constantly disputing decisions and to get on with the real issue at hand. This quietened things down for a while and the basketball dominated the eye as Trojans repelled Arden’s long-range shooting. Paul Roberts, who had six three-pointers to his name by half-time, lost his rhythm after the teams had turned with Trojans up by ten, and the home side had moved up a gear to lead 65-50 at the start of the final period.
Andy Carpenter came on strongly for Trojans with some dynamic close-range stuff and it was effectively over before Luke Hatfield fired in a trio of triples to lift Griffins to a respectable finish. Whether or not they can go one better in the coming weeks remains to be seen but there is the mouth-watering prospect of another two of these games, plus a possible cup final to come.