Gladiators vs Giants – British Basketball League (86-80)
The Gladiators entered Sunday’s contest hoping to stretch out their three-game winning streak.
Gareth Murray’s team are battling for second place with the Cheshire Phoenix and hoped to move one game closer to convincingly chasing the league-leading London Lions.
Their opponents, the Manchester Giants travelled to the Playsport Arena carrying some fresh momentum, after earning a close victory over the Surrey Scorchers on Thursday night.
A statement win in Scotland would go some way in inspiring a run for the playoffs.
The Gladiators set the pace from the opening minutes, with Lukas Palyza making a hot start. The Czech forward recorded six of his team’s first ten points, as they established an early seven-point lead.
The Giants answered back swiftly however, as Jamell Anderson made impressive plays to edge in front by one at the end of the opening period.
Caledonia re-established their lead aggressively, as Ian Dubose and Clifton Moore Jr. attacked from all angles, both offering a threat from beyond the arc and underneath the basket.
The home side were missing centre Fahro Alihozic through injury, so required extra help on the boards. Trent Buttrick stepped up, picking up eight rebounds in the first half, to go along with his seven points.
Caledonia returned to the changing rooms in front, despite a strange performance from their lead scorer Patrick Whelan, who shot 0-5 in the first two quarters. Heading into the break, Gladiators led 44-38.
The Giants couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the second half. Four of their starting five scored in the first two minutes, put together a 7-0 run and found themselves in front. Whatever Brian Semonian said at half-time had the desired effect.
Manchester didn’t take their foot off the gas either, Anderson and William Lee forced their way to the bucket, imposing themselves on the game in a major way.
Nicholas Lewis put his stamp on the contest too, rebounding the ball consistently and creating regular scoring opportunities.
Caledonia didn’t lose composure. Whelan rediscovered his offensive form in the final minutes of the third quarter, while Kyle Johnson offered a scoring punch from the bench.
Heading into the final ten minutes, the Gladiators were back up by two.
The lead went back and forth for the opening five minutes of the closing quarter, due to a series of isolation plays from both sides.
Manchester’s Evan Walshe continuously cut to the basket with speed, while Trent Buttrick pounded his way through the low block to regain the edge.
With his forgettable first half in the rearview, Whelan took the reins for Caledonia down the stretch. Draining multiple shots from inside and out, while forcing his way to the charity stripe on numerous occasions.
Whelan’s contested trey with under three minutes remaining provided the Gladiators with a three-point advantage.
When Buttrick sunk a potential dagger to push the lead to six, Caledonia had a sense of renewed confidence, before Jalen Harris responded with a three of his own to bring it back to three.
William Lee was fouled, but he split his shots from the free-throw line. Whelan – 84% for the season – had no such problem, confidently making his foul shots on the other end.
An Anderson turnover and subsequent pair of converted Buttrick free throws brought an end to the game, which Caledonia won 86-80.
Hatters vs Gladiators – Women’s British Basketball League (87-86)
With this win the Hatters move up to second in the standings with a record of 5-1, while the Gladiators drop down to fourth with a record of 4-1.
The game started with the two teams exchanging baskets in the first five minutes.
Emma Eichmeyer and Carla Drennan worked the pick-and-roll excellently, with the former finding the latter all alone under the basket for the easy two (10-9).
That was followed by a deep three by Desiree Ramos that gave Sheffield a four-point lead (13-9).
A nice spin move under the basket by Laken James made it a one-possession game once more (16-14), keeping Caledonia close.
Madison Washington formed the final score of the first quarter (20-15) when she bumped and bodied her way in for a tough layup with the defence all over her.
The second period saw the Hatters get their first double-digit lead of the game, when a pick-and-pop between Eichmeyer and Drennan led to the latter connecting from downtown (27-17), completing a 9-2 run.
With three minutes left in the half, the hosts managed to increase their lead to a game-high 14 points (38-24), when Washington posted up and faded away from the basket to drain the mid-range jumper.
Sheffield kept their double-digit lead as the half drew to a close, after Shauna Harrison completed an and-one play when she was fouled on the floater.
Three free throws by Djeneba N’diaye were the last points of the half, with the Hatters up by 10 (44-34).
The second half started with the Gladiators playing tough defence trying to force a turnover.
The Scots managed to get a steal early on when N’diaye swiped Washington, before dishing it to Yevheniia Putra for the open layup (44-36).
That was quickly answered by Drennan who banked in a three just as the shot clock was winding down (47-36).
The two sides then proceeded to exchange baskets for the next seven minutes with the difference staying at around 10 points.
As the third quarter was winding down, however, the Hatters went on an 8-0 run, going up by 18 points (62-44), which marked their largest lead of the game.
A layup by Ariadna Pujol formed the final score of the third period (62-46).
A 13-2 run by Sheffield to start the fourth quarter put them up by 25 points (73-48), giving them their largest lead of the game and giving Caledonia a mountain to climb.
The two sides then proceeded to exchange baskets for the next six minutes, while the difference stayed consistently above 20 points.
That was the difference at the end of the game, with the Hatters coming out on top by a margin of 20 points (87-67).