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Image Courtesy - Kai Johnson

Team Solent Kestrels bowed out of the National Cup at the 4th round stage after a close 80-91 defeat on the road at Division 1 outfit Essex Rebels on Sunday afternoon. Despite controlling the game for long spells Coach Matt Guymon's men were unable to hold on down the stretch as Rebels depth prevailed, to see them into the next round.

Kestrels youngster Will Taylor had perhaps his best game of the season so far as he poured in 19 points on 72% from the field whilst Isa Brandon added 14 points and 8 rebounds.

Essex had the better of the opening spells as ex Kestrels Family favourite, Luke Busumbru, got his side going from beyond the arc before another former TSK guard Zain Poorman also got in on the scoring act. Kestrels would settle themselves down however and found themselves 17-10 to the good during the first period, after some positive play inside from Ash Briggs and Isa Brandon.

After finishing the first quarter 25 a piece the second was a back and forth affair with both squads in free scoring mood. Will Taylor came off the bench to show his array of pretty footwork inside to keep the scoreboard ticking for Kestrels whilst Matt Hughes also found his way to basket. TSK would take a 55-49 lead into the break after a 30 points second quarter.

Rebels started to up the intensity as the second half opened and with that Isa Brandon would pick up his 3rd and 4th foul in quick succession, limiting his part in the remainder of the game for TSK. Russ Gariepy and Will Taylor continued to keep Kestrels within touching distance and Essex edging in front, Kestrels would only trail by 4 heading into the 4th quarter.

Essex would push their advantage to 8 points on two occasions early in the final period but the ever resilient Kestrels squad continued to find ways to trim the deficit, pulling within 2 and then again within 3 at the foul line through Matt Hughes. It was a 4 point game with just a minute to play before a Rebels corner 3 would give them a 7 point buffer. Despite TSK's best efforts they were unable to cut the gap and Essex held on to win 80-91.

Kestrels now turn their attentions back to NBL Division 2 action this weekend as they make the trip East once again, this time to Endeavour Ipswich Basketball Club (6pm - Saturday). You can catch the Kestrels back in action on Sunday 26th November at the SSC where they will play host to Oaklands Wolves at 3pm. Tickets on sale now!

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