Caledonia Gladiators vs Oaklands Wolves
Both teams started strong, although the first quarter was defined by free throws.
The Gladiators converted seven out of their 11 shots from the line, which gave them a four-point advantage into the second quarter.
Shaquera Wade put on a strong showing in the second quarter, trying to help the Wolves get back into the game.
But the Gladiators fended off the comeback to extend the advantage to seven points.
A fast start to the second half by the Gladiators saw their advantage almost double to 12 points, with help from Ariadna Pujol.
The Wolves fought back, but The Gladiators kept the advantage from getting any smaller.
However, the Gladiators found another gear in the final quarter, scoring 22 points to the Wolves’ 10.
Wade battled once more to help the Wolves claw it back, but it was not meant to be.
A strong team effort from Caledonia Gladiators helped them to a 24-point victory.
Caledonia Gladiators vs Bristol Flyers
It was an important result in the battle for second in the standings, with the Gladiators improving to 14-8.
The Scottish side recovered from a slow start, battling back from a 12-point deficit to lead at half-time. The Gladiators controlled the game for much of the second half, but the Flyers surged back late to cut the game to one score with less than a minute remaining.
Caledonia had enough in the tank to see it out, however, and recorded a hard-fought win. Patrick Whelan and Fahro Alihodzic each scored 16 to lead the Gladiators to the win.
The Flyers burst out to an early 11-2 lead, hushing the home crowd by getting to the rim with relative ease.
All of Bristol’s buckets in the opening six minutes came within the arc or at the foul stripe after Brad Greene set the tone inside with four quick points.
Te’Jon Lucas made the play of the quarter with five minutes gone for the Flyers, driving to the hoop and banking in a lay-up while falling away through contact.
A bump from Lukas Palyza during the shot sent Lucas to the line for a chance for one more, which he failed to convert.
In contrast, the Gladiators created looks at the hoop but failed to convert. Misses from Princeton Onwas, Alihodzic and Whelan resulted in a slow offensive start for the hosts.
But Palyza took the lid off the rim for Caledonia out of the break with a pull-up from the left elbow, starting a succession of midrange makes.
The veteran big man then hit the Gladiators’ first three of the afternoon with 2:15 remaining in the first, to cut the deficit to 13-20.
The flurry of Gladiators scoring saw them with a chance to cut it to a one-score game after one, but Kedrian Johnson stripped Whelan and made a lay-up over Clifton Moore Jr on the resulting fast break to make it 18-24 to the Flyers.
After a breathless opening quarter, the scoring stalled through the opening minutes of the second.
Caledonia’s Mike Bothwell traded a basket with Bristol’s Kedrian Johnson, as the Gladiators worked to make inroads back into the game.
To end the half, they found a run of form to do exactly that. Bothwell made it a one-possession affair for the first time since Greene’s 4-0 start, making two shots from the foul line to cut the score to 28-31.
Greene had dominated the glass since his hot start, grabbing his tenth rebound with six minutes left in the half, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Gladiators at bay.
Whelan found himself wide open from three after a pair of misses inside for Caledonia and knocked down a triple to make it 32-33.
The Gladiators’ onslaught continued until the break, as Bothwell beat the buzzer from the elbow with two minutes left to take their first lead of the game.
They ended the second quarter on a 12-2 run after Whelan’s triple, and the action ended with Moore Jr’s denial on Lucas at the rim to contrast their defensive start. The teams into the locker rooms with Caledonia up 40-35.
Caledonia rode their wave of momentum into the third quarter. Alihodzic got to work to start the second half, scoring six straight points to make it a double-digit Gladiators lead and forcing a quick Flyers timeout.
Bristol hit back in an attempt to cut into their deficit, as Greene pulled up from mid-range with 6:33 left in the third to complete his double-double.
Flyers captain Raphell Thomas-Edwards followed up on the next possession with a finish inside, and Bristol had cut the score to 49-42.
But Alihodzic took over proceedings once again, laying in a floater before blocking Lucas and setting up Whelan for a breakaway bucket.
A technical foul on Levi Bradley meant Whelan put the Gladiators up 54-42, as they saw off the Flyers’ attempt to run back into the game.
Whelan was aggressive throughout the third, attacking the rim for three lay-ups and seven points in the period.
But the second Flyers fightback saw more success, as Kedrian Johnson and Thomas-Edwards came up with back-to-back buckets, and Jacob made it a 6-0 run with a coast-to-coast lay-up.
But the Gladiators, aided by a friendly bounce on Kyle Johnson’s three, had the final say of the quarter to make the score 59-50.
Thomas-Edwards, making his impact on the game felt in the second half, knocked down a three to start the fourth and take those points straight back. Bothwell responded with a tough and-one finish, kicking off a back-and-forth start to the final period.
The Flyers saw plenty of opportunities to chip into Caledonia’s lead, as Greene battled down low for offensive boards.
But they failed to convert on their open looks, and Kyle Johnson connected from deep to make it a double-digit Gladiators advantage once again with 7:18 remaining.
Caledonia got to work down low to maintain their advantage, as Alihodzic, Kyle Johnson and Palyza scored three straight at the rim to stretch their lead to 71-57.
But Greene hit back with a lay-up off the glass on the other end to breathe life into the Bristol cause, and his teammates responded to their big man with back-to-back scores to cut the game to eight.
With 2:20 left in the game, Lucas drove to the hoop to make it a six-point difference to bring tension to the closing stages.
In the clutch, Bradley made amends for his earlier technical with a three to make it a one-score game. But Onwas hit back with a lay-up with 55 seconds remaining and got to the foul line the next time up the floor.
Lucas then turned it over, seemingly ending the game there, but Kedrian Johnson stole the ball from Palyza as he tried to advance the ball and made a layup through contact, as Onwas’ foul gave him a chance to cut it to a three-point difference.
Crucially, he missed the resulting free-throw, allowing the Gladiators to see it out from the free-throw line themselves.