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NWBA D1: EP Panthers 59 Brewers 61

20th March, 2024 | News | 0 comments

A steal, a fast break and a leak for a lay-up all in the final 17 seconds saw the Brewers seize an action-packed road victory over Ellesmere Port Panthers.

Brewers were still stinging from the last close encounter between these two sides, which was won with a late half-court triple by the Panthers – and Adam Lloyd’s charges were out for revenge.

The anticipation for this game was epic – it even attracted the attention of Cheshire Phoenix captain Maceo Jack and 2024 BBL All-Star Aaryn Rai who were in attendance, underlining just how exciting the North Wales Basketball Association is becoming.

From the start it was intense, Panthers running the floor their usual way but the Brewers applying more intent, onlookers would be forgiven for thinking the undersized visitors were going to be plucky losers.

Skipper Dave Thomas stepped up to cover Panther’s main threat – Richard McNutt – an assignment rarely relished by anyone.

Both sides traded baskets throughout the quarter, Alex ‘AJ’ Jones, Niel Gillard and Jay Redbond all hitting from three as the Brewers trailed 18-15 at the first break.

The Brewers maintained the pressure in the second, playing the long game. As the Panthers tried to combat the pressure by pushing out the heavy artillery of Stu Williams, Brewers countered with their own heavy hitter, Alec Doyle.

Joe Hughes also took the floor and caught fire early in a performance that won him the MVP award as his athleticism and commitment to team basketball ensured the Brewers offence flowed.

Hubert Paluch also nailed a handful of points as the teams went into the half level at 33-33.

During the break the frustration of the Panthers was audible as they struggled to find a way to get a run on the visiting team.

Their breakthrough however came in a surprising fashion. On the attack, McNutt caught an accidental hand in the face from Thomas that resulted in a bloody nose.

That riled McNutt up and his verbal protestations to the officials resulted in a him being ejected from the game.

Following the incident however, it was the Panthers who took the initiative as the Brewers seemed to go into their shells and stop playing their game.

As a result they went into the fourth quarter seven points down and needing to regroup.

A reminder to increase the intensity, some good squad rotation from Lloyd and the tiring legs of the Panthers saw Brewers haul themselves back into the game but, with Panthers’ sharpshooter Dan Rudd on the floor, 17 seconds to go and trailing by two the Brewers were looking down the barrel of defeat.

A quick time-out and Niel Gillard called the press. As soon as the Brewers gt back on the floor he stole the ball from Rudd and raced away for a quick double.

The Panthers went up to the other end and launched a shot early which dropped out to Thomas. He launched a long pass to Redbond who had leaked and he sprinted down to get his layup off right on the buzzer to seal the win!

Gillard finished top scorer with 16 points, an exhausted Thomas claimed 12 and Paluch clocked up 11 but it was the result that mattered to Lloyd.

“We’ve played each other twice now and both games have come down to late plays,” he said. “It’s really exciting but it would be nice to win comfortably once in a while!

“We executed our gameplan and intensity to perfection there. We had a wobble in the third but we pulled it back and at the end the team pulled together and Jay finished fantastically to give us a vital win.

“Both teams were missing players so others had to step up and boy, did they! On both sides there were guys putting in performances the likes of which we’ve not seen this season and it was brilliant to watch.

“We did struggle after Maccy left the game, it rattled us more than them to be honest which sounds crazy, but it knocked us out of our flow.

“But we pulled it back and got ourselves together and that was a really important win against one of the best sides in Division One.

“It was a great game and a testament to the quality of this local league. I think it’s ine of the most undderrated and competitive leagues in the UK and when you have BBL players coming to watch games that says a lot.”

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