Following the previous weekend’s tough defeat away to title contenders Ipswich, Kestrels followed this up with their first home game of the season against a solid Anglia Ruskin Team, who last season were one of only 3 teams to inflict defeat on the Kestrels.
Once again, with a short rotation due to injury and in front of a decent crowd, Solent Kestrels opened the game solidly, deploying full court pressure defence to try and hurry ARU out of their normal half-court offence and force turnovers. The game got off to a slow start and truth be told, if Kestrels had been able to convert possessions in to points more often, they would have been in control of the game. As it was, ARU finished the first quarter on a 8-0 run. 8-16 at the end of the first. The score was not reflective of possession, the inexperience of the young Solent outfit showing through against a seasoned ARU team.
Solent continued to press in the second quarter, although turnovers and open shots for ARU, when Solent were in their half-court defence conspired to allow ARU to extend their lead, standout Rian Rawlings getting numerous open looks from mid-range, the second quarter finishing 18-39 to ARU.
The third quarter was a different story for the young Kestrels outfit and something that should give them confidence going forward. From the ARU inbounds pass to start the quarter, Solent were immediately able to get a steal, Glory Uzomefuna converting the lay up and this was to set the tone for the quarter. Backed by a crowd that was slowly getting in to the game, Solent’s high energy defence was able to force numerous steals and turnovers as ARU struggled to cope with the pace that Solent were able to play at. Consecutive 3 point scores from Tilly Goddard and Tara Knowles brought the score to 28-42 and the momentum was with Solent. Furious full court pressure from Fernanda Loberto, Uzomefuna, Goddard, Faith McDowall and Knowles, backed by the home court #KestrelsFamily was now putting real pressure on the visitors, with Florrie Cotterill and Earla Jackson providing size and support on the boards at both ends of the floor. A 3 pointer from McDowall, followed by a Goddard lay up and 2 free throws and a further lay up off another steal, brought Solent to within 6….36-42. Solent outscoring the visitors 18-3 in the quarter and leaving ARU rattled.
Solent looked to continue the pressure at the start of the 4th, but their defensive efforts in the 3rd started to tell as fouls and turnovers once again started to mount and they were unable to finish at the offensive end. However, it wasn’t only Solent struggling to score and they were able to stay in touch with ARU in a low-scoring 4th quarter. With just over a minute remaining, Solent were still in touch with the score at 43-52, however Kestrels were unable to add any further points and Purcell was able to put the icing on the cake for the visitors with a 3 point shot with 4 seconds left on the clock. Final score TSK 43-55 ARU.
Overall, this was a hugely improved performance from the previous week. Although there is still a lot of work to be done before Kestrels travel to take on the highly-fancied Reading Rockets in the National Cup on Friday, Kestrels can take heart from this performance going forward.
Kestrels leading performers:
Tilly Goddard 15pts/10rebs/5stls/3assts
Florrie Cotterill 6pts/7rebs/4stls/2assts
Fernanda Loberto 6pts/3rebs/5stls/2assts