Both Caledonia Gladiators teams were victorious this afternoon in their respective fixtures. Both teams return to the win column.
Caledonia Gladiators vs Surrey Scorchers 80-72
Much as he’s done throughout the first few weeks of the season, Patrick Whelan paced the Caledonia Gladiators early on their trip south to face the Surrey Scorchers.
His drive and spin into a layup scored his ninth point in the first quarter, which put the visitors up by seven.
Josh Steel had the answer for the home side, with his own drive to the rim. And some solid team defence, including a big block from Padiet Wang forced the Gladiators into a couple of turnovers, which the Scorchers converted into points late in the quarter to cut the gap to three at the end of 10 minutes.
Caledonia’s Trent Buttrick hit a mid-range jumper to open the gap back up in the second quarter, before his teammate Whelan hit his third three of the game to make it an 11-point lead.
The physicality of Gladiators newcomer Mike Bothwell started paying dividends, as his defensive rebound shut down a Scorchers play to get a bucket on the other end. He followed his own missed layup to grab the rebound and score a put-back on the ensuing possession.
Cameron Gooden had been keeping Surrey within touching distance by scoring for most of the first half, but he helped Saiquan Jamison cut the deficit to seven on a beautiful pick-and-roll lob for a highlight-worthy alley-oop.
The Caledonia lead stayed at nine as the teams went into the locker room.
When times are tough, it’s good to have a two-time league MVP on your team, and Justin Robinson proved with back-to-back threes that pulled the Scorchers back within seven.
This, along with a typically rowdy Surrey crowd, inspired a huge block from Abdul Mohamed, which sparked Gooden on the break for an acrobatic layup around and about Caledonia’s defence.
It was a zone defence that threw Caledonia off their offensive rhythm, and Surrey cut it to six until Lukas Palyza and Whelan hit consecutive threes to slow the home team’s momentum.
But Lawrence ratcheted it right back up to finish the quarter with a tough drive to the rim and a three on the buzzer that brought the Scorchers to four at the end of the third.
The reason Caledonia Gladiators have been battling for a spot at the top of the Championship table this season was on full display to open the final quarter, as a solid team effort regained control of the game.
Scoring from DuBose, Moore Jr, and Fraser Malcolm pushed the lead back up to nine within two minutes and the Gladiators maintained this control through to the final buzzer.
Caledonia Gladiators vs Cardiff Met Archers 81-38
Caledonia Gladiators returned home and did not disappoint with a whopping 43-point victory over the travelling Cardiff Met Archers.
The Gladiators put their foot on the accelerator from the first whistle as Djeneba N’Diaye took charge scoring multiple fast break points early in the game. Smalley attempted to close the gap late on in the quarter but it wasn’t enough as the home team pulled away with a 9-point lead after 10 minutes played.
In the second quarter, Kian Omer-Jones opened the scoring with a neat lay-up. Followed closely by an additional two points added by Bintou Lo. Going into halftime the Gladiators led by 35-15 points.
Heading into the second half, Cardiff were determined to make an impact in the game. They scored their most in a quarter with 18-points but it just wasn’t enough as Gladiators still pushed through to score an impressive 26-points. Hannah Robb and Djeneba continued to pile on the points as they both made their opportunities count finding the basket on multiple occasions.
In the final quarter, Hannah Robb showed why she deserved to be MVP racking up an immense 12-points in the quarter including three three-pointers, putting any slither of remaining doubt to bed. Laken James rounded off a perfect afternoon for the Gladiators, adding two points with fourteen seconds remaining.