Tile Hill Trojans’ player/coach Trevor Robinson was fuming as his side slipped to a 68-76 defeat against rivals Arden Griffins.
But Robinson’s rantings were tempered by the fact that his team can only be caught if they lose the final two games of their campaign. Griffins Coach Jack Forrest on the other hand, was left ruing their opening-week defeat at the hands of Cracovia Stratford making their task that much more difficult as they tried gamely to unseat the reigning Champions.
If ever there can have been, this was a game of two halves as Griffins saw almost every shot penetrate the Trojans’ hoop during the opening two periods, while at the other end, nothing went right for the usually self-assured Coventry side. Arden raced into an massive 50-22 lead by the interval, but probably for the first time this season they had to rely on the shooting ability of Luke Hatfield and Sam Workman, as the league’s record-setting three-point shooter Paul Roberts was shackled by the defensive power of Alex Hernandez and restricted to just one point. By half-time the pair had contributed to over half Griffins’ total, and they came out for the second half in similar mood when, with the words of Robinson still ringing in their ears, Trojans suddenly found the target.
Baskets rained in with the opposite ring seemingly covered in cling-film and the gap began to reduce. The twenty-eight point difference was down by ten as Robinson brought his own brand of physicality onto the court and it made all the difference as Griffins wilted. Before the end of the third quarter, the margin was fifteen and Trojans knew that if they continued like this they could take the game.
Workman brought brief respite with a brace but the game then turned on an altercation between Trojans’ Scott Owen and the match officials. The 6’7” centre had landed three more baskets when he complained once too often and picked up his second technical foul which sent him out of the game with the score now 63-67. Owen continued to rage as he left the arena and collected another technical foul which raised the temperature once again but seemed to ignite the Arden offense and bring a halt to the intensity of Trojans’ play. Try as he may, Robinson could not lift this side again and Griffins cashed in from the free-throw line to thwart their rivals and take the points.
Hatfield finished with 25 and Workman 22 with Ash Dickson taking his match total to 23 on the back of a 15 point second half for Trojans who now face Tamworth Tigers in this week’s Handicap cup final as they try for the double.
Elsewhere in Division One there were wins for Aylesford Hawks who eased past Tamworth 90-75 on the back of a devastating second quarter in which Wayne Jones hit 21 points before finishing on 29, and Stratford, who disposed of the challenge of Leamington Spartans early in the piece to run out 72-50 winners. JM Grizzlies had a good second-half to break the resistance of Trojans 2 as they raced from 27-27 to win 78-41 and Ernesford Eagles had a 20-0 default over Coventry college who had to cry off their fixture late on