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EBL Weekend Round-up

07 February 2005
Sheffield, England

It was another good weekend for EBL1 leaders City of Sheffield Arrows,
as they continued their winning streak, and saw one of their two title
rivals fall be the wayside.

Arrows recorded their fourteenth consecutive League victory, with a
convincing 84-68 home win over fourth placed Manchester Magic on
Saturday, in a match which they led throughout.

Andrew Lovedale, with a game-high 28 points and 14 rebounds, kept the visitors in touch, but the Arrows' experience, and growing confidence proved too much, with veterans Garnett Gayle and Todd Cauthorn weighing in with 10 points apiece to back up Sheffield's leading scorer Ryan Patton who had 27 and 9 assists.

Sheffield could then only wait for the results from elsewhere, to learn
that their nearest rivals, London United and Reading Rockets, had both
recorded comfortable victories over lowly opposition.

Coventry Crusaders' fans could only admire United's clinical efficiency
in racing to an 18-31 lead by the end of the first period, with
Sebastian Saloman hitting ten of his game-high 26 points in that spell.

Despite being on four fouls for most of the second half, Crusaders'
captain Derrick Pope (19) did his best to keep the margin respectable,
but the result was a convincing 71-97 to London.

Down at Rivermead the Reading Rockets found themselves trailing by six
early in the game to basement side Kingston Wildcats, but once they
moved into a 17-16 lead they were not to be headed again. The Wildcats stayed in contention until half-time, at 45-33, but the Rockets raised the tempo in the third, and used the fast-break to good effect, to pull out a 22 point advantage.

In the final quarter the home side rubbed in their advantage, shutting out their visitors for the first six minutes, as they romped to a 40 point victory. Steve Parillon led all scorers again, with 26, while only Sam Salter (16) could reach double figures for Kingston.

The stage was thus set for Sunday's big showdown, with second placed
United visiting third placed Rockets.

The home side began well, with a 25-19 opening quarter, but London were hitting their shots better, and edged into a 42-44 lead by the half.

With EJ Harrison injured, Reading were having to rely on the inside work
of Steve Parillon (35) and James Cook, but the visitors began to find
their 3-point range in the third, and opened a 10-point cushion at

Reading continued to fight hard, with an impressive 31 point final
quarter, but Mantia Callender (21) and Walid Mumuni (21), ably assisted
by Steve Vear (18) continued to hit crucial shots, and London took a
seven point victory.

The good news for Sheffield is that Reading are now eight points adrift,
albeit with a game in hand ... and the even better news is that these
two meet again, in London, next weekend!

The shock result of the weekend came at Worcester Wolves, where the
visitors were the high-scoring Worthing Thunder. The shock was not in
much in the fact of a victory for the highly competitive home side so
much as the margin - a massive 114-77 to the side which had been on the wrong end of a 112-83 scoreline at Worthing just three months ago.

Recent signing Matt Collins made a huge impact for Worcester in the
first half, with 18 points (12 in the first quarter) including four "3"s, as the home side raced into a 32-23 lead by the first break, and 57-41 at the half.

The Wolves held their advantage throughout the third, before two "treys" from Josh Cooprider in the final 30 seconds took the score out to 81-58.

Worse was to come for the Thunder in the final period, as David
Butterworth picked up his fifth foul, and Worthing showed how rattled
they were by picking up a couple of Technical Fouls. That enabled
Worcester to pull further ahead, and a dominant 33-19 quarter saw them record their most emphatic win of the campaign, which lifted them above Worthing into fifth place in the table.

Cooprider and Ty Shaw had 25 apiece for Worcester, with Collins adding
23, while Gaylon Moore led Worthing with 24, ahead of Teon Knox with 22.

In the battle for the play-off places, Teesside Mohawks dented PAWS
London Capitals' chances with a 75-63 victory in Middlesbrough, while
Essex & Herts Leopards took control of eighth place, recording a hard-earned 77-74 home win over Solent Stars.

Leopards controlled the first half, edging 16-14 ahead in the first
quarter, and 38-28 by the break, before Larry Parker hit the first seven
of Solent's second half points in a 4-12 run that pulled the visitors
right back into contention. A Mark Jackson "3" took the visitors ahead
midway through the third quarter, and at the final break they led 55-58.

Six lead changes ensued in the opening five minutes of the final
quarter, and then, with less than three minutes to play, Troy Selvey's
sixth blocked shot of the game gave Leopards possession and the same
player hit the points that gave his side the lead they would not
relinquish. In the closing seconds it was the impressive Selvey (who
also had 27 points and 9 rebounds) who stole the ball to deny Solent a
final shot.

Larry Parker led all scorers, with 28 for Solent, but Leopards' victory
was founded on impressive defence which had held the unusually prolific Marlin Capers to just 12 points.

Back to back home victories by Rhondda Rebels saw them take their
unbeaten start to 11 games, as they saw off the challenge from
Nottingham Wildcats (92-83) on Saturday, and Manchester Mystics (103-74) on Sunday.

The Wildcats put up strong resistance, shading the first quarter by two,
but a 33-18 second period put the home side in control, and they held on for a nine point victory, led by 37 points from Geraldine Robert. Julie
Hillis led the visitors' resistance with 24.

The following day the leaders ensured that they had no such concerns, as they eased into a 25-15 lead at the end of the first and controlled the
game from the front, to effectively end Manchester's outside title hopes.

Robert again led all scorers, this time with 33, but Manchester's Wendy Smith took the individual honours, with 34.

Meanwhile Sheffield Hatters, stayed close on Rebels' heels, with a
convincing 45 point demolition of the visiting Brixton Topcats. Led by
22 points from Katie Crowley the Hatters led 58-31 at the end of the
third quarter, and then really turned the screw in the final period with
a 22-4 finish.

The scene is now set for a fascinating showdown between the top two next Saturday, when second placed Sheffield (8&1) visit Rhondda (11&0) for a game which will determine whether the title race remains open.

Source: EB/Pete Jacques (Pawprint)

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