Report by Daniel Gilfoyle

Caledonia Gladiators win their 7th home game on the bounce as they prevail 77-60 victors over the travelling B. Braun Sheffield Sharks.

The two sides have met two times already this season, with the Gladiators being victorious both times, 74-70 in the first matchup and 77-68 in the second game, both away from home at Ponds Forge.

If you cast your minds back to last season, one of the most iconic moments from the campaign was Jordan Harris’ game winner against tonight’s opponents, thankfully we didn’t need lightning to strike twice.

Before tonight’s matchup, the Gladiators sat in fifth place after 13 games on 14 points with a game in hand on the Plymouth City Patriots. Sheffield sat in seventh place after 16 games on 14 points.

After winning the opening tip, the Gladiators opened up the scoring via a Sloan lay-up, including a screen assist from Tape. Following the opening basket, Caledonia went on and scored 11 unanswered points before Bennett Koch scored two free throws to snap the run from a Dizzyfish timeout.

The opening points for the Sharks struck the Gladiators the wrong way, despite still being in control of the game, after scoring 11 in the opening 2:55, Caledonia would score just 10 in the final 7:05, being outscored as the score was 21-12 in the opening quarter.

The second quarter wasn’t the nicest for the Gladiators, Delpeche opened the quarter with a bucket after some poor defensive rebound attempts from the team. It was a slow start, buckets were coming for both sides, making it difficult for the Gladiators to make a mark in the second period. The Sharks played a smart offence, drawing fouls in and getting multiple Gladiators on multiple fouls, by the half Kyle Jimenez & Prince Onwas had two and Ali Fraser & Patrick Tape had three.

Nevertheless, the Gladiators were under the cosh but managed to get the score to 40-27, extending on the first quarter with a great and electric last few minutes. At the half, Prince Onwas led the way, scoring nine points, Kyle Jimenez closely competed with eight.

Gladiators definitely deserved their lead at the halfway mark as they led in every major stat category other than steals and turnovers. Their 16/30 (53%) from the field dwarves the 9/34 (26%) field goals from the Sharks. Atiba Lyons’ squad did lead in offensive rebounds, however, but the Gladiators are the better rebounding team, 26 boards to 20, nine assists to three is also a big difference maker in the game.

The third quarter was a Gladiator-controlled one, Jeremiah Bailey opened the scoring and got the lead up to 15. It didn’t get any closer than that as the score stayed around 17 points too much for the Sharks to taste blood. Onwas and Tapé picked up another foul each, but it didn’t mean anything as the game was too far out of reach for the Sharks to come back if either did foul out.

Going into the fourth and final period, the score was 57-43 in favour of the home Gladiators. The final period was an uneventful one, the Gladiators cruised to their victory, winning the fourth quarter 20-17.

The Sharks didn’t shoot particularly well all night long, their ultimate downfall in the tie as the Gladiators blew them out the water with 29/59 (49%) of field goals going in! Gareth Murray’s squad were the dominant rebounding team as well as the Gladiators grab 44 rebounds to the Sharks 35, 21 assists to the opposing 11.

Sharks struggled due to their lack of players, only nine available players meant that starts such as Banks Jr and Ratinho couldn’t get meaningful rest and had to play most of the minutes. The Dear Green Coffee-sponsored MVP was Prince Onwas who had an overall dominant game, 11 points on 4/5 (80%) shooting (100% from two-pointers) to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.

The leading scorer for the Gladiators however was David Sloan, with 21 points all from inside the three-point line in addition to five free throws.

A seven game unbeaten home run closes off an amazing 2022 for Caledonia Gladiators, catch the squad in action next at home on Sunday 8th January as we take on the London Lions in the BBL Championship, looking to extend the streak: TICKETS.