Following a mixed season and drawn against the unblemished Bucks the already low expectations weren’t helped by losing a man from an already light bench to do the scorebook.
A tight first quarter saw the lead change hands 5 times, giving the home team confidence. Although there were further setbacks with Budge and Zúñiga picking up 3 fouls and Elliott, taking a whack on the nose, having to withdraw to the locker room to stem the flow of claret.
The visitors tried to build a lead in the second, twice getting eight clear, but almost single handedly Harris kept the Warriors in sight scoring 14 of the 18 (including the last 12) in the quarter to reduce the deficit to 3 at the half.
The visitors again looked to get away in the third third, immediately restoring their 8 point lead, then a 10-0 run from the home side with a three from Rodgers levelling the game followed by another from İşnel giving a brief 3 point lead only for #8 for the Bucks replied in kind to tie the game at 43 going into the last.
Captain Budge checked back in to the game at the start of the 4th making an immediate impact scoring twice to spark a 11-0 run.
With 5 minutes to go the home side had a 10 point lead, the Wessex champions hadn’t expected this and showed their class producing a rally including four three pointers but it was too little too late with a last minute free throw from Xu ultimately proving the difference.
Great game, fantastic team effort, particularly on defense, restricting a free scoring team (who have 5 times scored a ton plus), to their second lowest tally of the season (the lowest was also against the Warriors).
A message has been sent that the Warriors should not be underestimated, underlined when Big Jon rocked the rim in the 4th postering not one, but two, of the bewildered Bucks bigs. When he returned to the game also rejecting countless shots! Harris also joined in getting a key huge block on the hot hand of #8 when the game came down to the wire (somehow managing to injure his petite nose in the process).
This is just the first leg, so effectively half time, Tuesday we’ll need the same effort again to finish the job!
Scorers: Harris 20, İşnel 15, Budge 8, Elliott 7, Xu 7, Rodgers 3, Eveleigh 2 & Zúñiga 0