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Image Courtesy - Luke Simcock

This Friday 13th away trip to Reading had the potential to become a real nightmare for TSK. Travelling with a squad even further reduced due to sickness now sweeping through the team, but bolstered and buoyed by the signing of Bulgarian Gabi Kostova-Dobreva, they were to re-write the script and put on a show full of promise.

Coming out in a zone defence at the start of the first, seemed to confuse Reading and both teams were evenly matched in the opening exchanges, the young Kestrels squad going toe to toe with a physical Reading team. TSK’s game plan of how to defend Reading’s standout forward Lindsay Cleary was paying dividends, denying scoring opportunities inside and forcing Reading into rushed shots from outside as the shot clock wound down or into turning the ball over. If TSK had been able to convert those turnovers into points, they would surely have had the lead at the end of the first. As it was, Reading led 16-7 at end of Q1.

Q2 was much of the same, although with Reading growing increasingly frustrated with their inability to break Solent down, fouls started to accumulate and TSK were able to get to the foul line, although sadly couldn’t make these opportunities count. This allowed Reading to further extend the lead to 10…..34-24 to Rockets at the half.

Reading’s half-time team talk seemed to have been about how to best try and rough up the TSK players as they came out full of fight. TSK on the other hand came out focused on the task at hand and were able to chip away at Reading’s lead only for a Rockets run at the end of the quarter to take them into a 12 point lead at the end of the 3rd as TSK started to exert a little full court pressure.

In the 4th TSK gave it all they had with Itchen College 1st year Tilly Goddard outstanding in the back court and Kostova-Dobreva controlling the middle defensively, as well as starting to find her groove at the offensive end. This lead to Reading becoming increasingly aggressive with getting little protection from the referees as the game threatened to boil over at times. Reading’s sharpshooting Karpova was starting to hit some trademark three’s until she committed an unsportsmanlike foul followed by a technical foul, resulting in her disqualification. Unfortunately, there was too little time left in the game for that to make a difference to the result, Reading running out 20 point winners, 74-54 and left Solent relishing the upcoming league games and a chance to compete with a full squad.

Although the outcome was a defeat, this was a huge step forward in terms of performance from Coach Connell’s much depleted squad and will provide a huge boost going forward with positives coming from a much reduced number of turnovers combined with the team creating more steals than their hosts. They will however rue their poor free throw shooting and ability to convert those steals into points.

Plenty to work on then and also plenty of positives to take into a week of tough training ahead of a WNBL 1 match up on Sunday, 22nd October when Kestrels entertain newly promoted Manchester Mystics – tip off 14:00 at Solent Sports Complex.

Kestrels leading performers:

Tilly Goddard - 24pts/6rebs/4stls/3assts/4blocks

Gabi Kostova-Dobreva - 12pts/3 rebs/1asst/50% 2pt shooting/80% FT shooting

Wilma Harrysson - 11pts/4rebs/1asst

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