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Image Courtesy - Claire Horn

The new look Team Solent Kestrels kick started their pre season with an 89-71 victory over NBL Division 3 side Portsmouth Force. The pre season fixture was the inaugural Mick Byrne Memorial Trophy game, which will see TSK and Portsmouth Force match up in the pre season each year, to remember a south coast basketball legend.

TSK junior product Matt Hughes had 23 points as he was in fine scoring on his return to his boyhood club whilst new signing Russell Gariepy had a strong second half showing to finish with 18 points in his debut.

TSK Assistant Coach (Head Coach on the night) Jack O’Keeffe added “We were a little slow to get going this evening but I think ultimately a sign of where we are right now in our infancy as a group. I really enjoyed the second the half performance and felt like we were able to take away a number of positives on both ends of the floor. We got contributions from across the board and in particular it was great to see a number of Kestrels juniors make the jump to the senior level also. I want to thank Rob Milner and everyone at Portsmouth Force for putting together a great event to remember Mick, we look forward to welcoming Portsmouth next year.”

Portsmouth started much the better of the two sides as they came out firing from beyond the arc and whilst Kestrels were able to stem the flow somewhat, Force would take a 22-17 lead into the first quarter break. Russell Gariepy came off the bench to provide TSK with some much needed scoring as the visitors set about cutting the deficit but that would be short lived as Portsmouth capitalised on a number of Kestrels turnovers. A late scoring run to close the half including a Harry Horn buzzer beater at the break, saw TSK cut the gap to just 4 points, Force in front 38-42 at the interval.

Kestrels settled themselves down in the second half and a huge 31 point 3rd quarter saw them take control of the ball game. Ashley Briggs was able to assert himself in the post whilst Matt Hughes found a number of scores in the paint, from timely off ball movement. TSK took an 11 point lead into the final 10 minutes of action and an early Elliot Dadds triple, followed by another Briggs finish, looked to have killed off any hopes of a Portsmouth come back.

Kestrels’ NBL Division 2 campaign gets underway on September 30th on the road at NASSA, keep your eyes pealed for the full season schedule later this week.

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