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KESTRELS UNABLE TO OUTLAST BREAKERS IN PLAYOFF FINAL


Image Courtesy - Basketball England

Team Solent Kestrels fell just short at the final hurdle on Saturday evening as they lost to Milton Keynes Breakers 68-86 in the NBL Division 2 Men’s playoff final, at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester. It was the 3rd time the sides have met this season after splitting the league games, with MK taking the league title on a +1 head to head points difference.


Isa Brandon had 21 points, 12 rebounds and 4 steals whilst Ash Briggs 19 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 3 assists.


The Breakers scored the first 4 points of the game but a 10-0 Kestrels run in response, powered by 5 straight Ash Briggs points, forced Milton Keynes into an early timeout. Post timeout Kestrels extended the deficit to 8 points through Russ Gariepy however that was short lived, with Breakers cutting the gap to 3 by the quarters end, 18-15 TSK.


Briggs scored 6 straight to open the 2nd period to restore his sides 7 point advantage. TSK would however be forced into their first timeout of the half as MK rallied to tie the game at 24 a piece. Once again Briggs responded out of the timeout for the Kestrels, before Elliot Dadds stroked a triple and Isa Brandon rounded out some nice ball movement with a mid range jumper. The sides traded scores to close the half and that saw the Kestrels lead trimmed, leaving the score tied at 38-38.


It was Milton Keynes who got in the ascendancy early in the second half as they set about building an 8 point advantage, forcing Coach Guymon into an early timeout to settle things down for his Kestrels side. TSK responded with a 6-0 run of their own out of the timeout, with Coach Guymon’s much needed impetus having an effect. Breakers did however restore their 8 point cushion as they got out in transition to punish the south coasters. Will Taylor scored 4 straight to keep TSK within touching distance but a late flurry for MK saw them push the lead to double digits, 61-50 with 10 minutes to play.


Isa Brandon scored 4 unanswered as the 4th quarter got underway, which showed Kestrels were not going to go away that easily. A series of back and forth possessions would follow, that saw the lead stay fixed at 7 for the Breakers, until they eventually extended the deficit to 12 forcing TSK into another timeout with a little under 7 minutes remaining. Russ Gariepy and Joe Lloyd made a pair of triples the other side of the timeout but Kestrels couldn’t break the 7 point margin mark, with Langley and Robinson responding with a pair of jumpers from beyond the arc. Elliot Dadds knocked down a 3 to bring the Kestrels within 11 points but that would be was close at TSK got. Kestrels falling short 68-86 as the curtain fell on what has been a fantastic 2023-24 season.


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