The first-leg games in the opening round of the Warwickshire Basketball Handicap
cups provided shock victories for Coventry Tornadoes and Warwick China Red, setting
up mouth-watering second-leg matches.
Tornadoes were drawn away at Cracovia Stratford in the Castledine Cup – a competition for the
first and selected second division sides, and the Tornadoes’ youngsters travelled back to Coventry
with a three-point victory in the bag, winning 89-86. In the second leg they will have to work hard
to contain the strong Stratford side but one which does not travel well.
The home side were quickly out of the blocks and clawed back ten of the twenty-five point
handicap in the first quarter, but Tornadoes responded with Michael Junior Stokes leading the
way. Stratford, who finished with six of their seven players in double figures, took the lead at 66-
65, but they then faltered as Tornadoes came good in the last three minutes to ease past them in
the dying seconds to gain the vital three point advantage.
Warwick China Red stunned holders Arden Griffins with a 79-70 win, successfully defending their
thirty- point start. They get the same again in the return, but Griffins will be much stronger in
their home leg which has been delayed by a week due to court availability at St Peter’s Solihull.
Hotshot leader Paul Roberts had difficulty in taming the Woodlands rings, and hit most of his 18
points in the second period as Griffins chased hard. But each time they looked to threaten the
China Red lead, the home side found the net to maintain their lead. Arden got to within six in the
final minutes, before Luodi Pan nailed his only baskets of the night to take the nine-point lead into
the second leg.
Tile Hill Trojans 1 were drawn against their second string, and, with only a twenty point
advantage, there was little to suggest anything other than a win for the first team. This they did in
style, crushing the seconds with a mighty 42-19 final quarter which brought 27 points for Austin
Dickson and 26 for elder brother Ashley. On paper, it looks bleak for TH2 in the second leg, but
the senior side will be without several key players for the return as they are committed to train for
National League side Warwickshire Hawks, so it could yet get interesting.
In the Challenge Cup there were wins for Rugby Rage, who towered above the five-man Trojans 3
side to win 99-69, and Tamworth Tigers, guilty of hammering Nuneaton’s Under 19 team104-56.
Westwood Rhinos got the better of second division Ernesford Eagles after starting 30-5 up. Both
sides struggled to find the basket, but the end result went to Rhinos 66-58, and Nuneaton 1
managed to protect their handicap at Team Rebels, to go home on the back of n 86-71 success.

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