Caledonia Gladiators bowed out of the Women’s British Basketball League Trophy thanks to a huge performance from London Lions in the south, as the reigning Trophy champions won with a solid 74-58 victory. Huge individual performances from Sam Roscoe and Laken James (19, 18 points) weren’t enough for their side to pick up a win.

Heading into the game at Oaklands College, Caledonia Gladiators looked to challenge the London Lions, undoubtedly the Trophy favourites, to advance in the competition on the road to the finals in Birmingham. The travelling side was without Djeneba N’Diaye, who never travelled with the squad, and Chantelle Handy took to the sidelines for the game.

The fixture started with an uncharacteristic three-point miss from sharpshooting Katsiaryna Snytsina, however, it was Gladiators’ Laken James and Sam Roscoe who got scoring underway with a three and two made respectively. A 9-0 run forced Stella Kaltsidou to call an early timeout, with Gladiators starting in a dream way. Who else but Karlie Samuelson opened the scoring for London, with a pair of made free throws? The hosts struggled to settle into the game in the opening five minutes played but brought themselves back into the battle. The score remained locked at 7-11 in favour of Caledonia for a few minutes, but Wilkinson took the lead at 12-11 with just over 30 seconds to play. After ten minutes, the Lions led 16-11 despite trailing for most of the period.

In the second, the Lions swiftly expanded their lead to 9 – with the score at 20-11 after two minutes, forcing a Miguel Ortega timeout in the opposite fashion of the opening period. The play continued with the capital’s side in control, despite the Gladiators’ fight-back and hustle throughout. Frustration arose with a technical call on London’s Coach. Thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-ball by GB star Holly Winterburn, the Lions ended the half and headed into the locker rooms up nine – 36-27.

The highlight of the half for Caledonia was Sam Roscoe’s hugely impressive offensive showing. The GB international put up a sensational 17 points in just 16 minutes. Statistically, London led on most fronts, showing their overall class. Both teams struggled for turnovers, Gladiators looking ever-so-slightly more positive with 13 to London’s 14.

Back on the court, high-intensity play continued for the side at home – with Karlie Samuelson converting an and-one within just 30 seconds of the half starting. The Lions remained comfortable but never expanded on their lead – battling 12-11 with the visitors in the first half of the third period, and maintaining the margin around 10 points. Towards the end of the quarter, Gladiators fought back and brought themselves back into the game, cutting London’s lead to 3 with a minute to go – impressing offensively. A Samuelson trademark three doubled the lead to six, and the quarter ended – 54-48.

Gladiators had to fight back into the game heading into the concluding ten minutes. Missed shots from Caledonia kept the Lions’ lead intact. The side from the south proved their class, with their plethora of ex-WNBA and EuroLeague talent getting them over the line and advancing them to the next round, the semi-final of the Women’s British Basketball League Trophy. At the full-time buzzer, Lions came away with an eventual 16-point lead, 74-58.

With 18 points, 1 assist, and 1 rebound, as part of a huge first-half outing, Sam Roscoe was deserving of the Gladiators’ MVP. You can choose her – or any Gladiators – in the league’s all-star voting HERE!

Next up at home, Caledonia Gladiators welcome Oaklands Wolves to start a double-header at PlaySport on the 4th of February. Get your tickets HERE!