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Image Courtesy - Kai Johnson

Team Solent Kestrels continued their hot start to the NBL Division 2 regular season as they handed Brighton Bears an 83-68 defeat on Saturday evening at the Solent Sports Complex. Isa Brandon was in free scoring form once again posting 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds whilst both Elliot Dadds and Matt Hughes chipped in 16 a piece.

The win sees TSK improve to 3-0 after wins against both NASSA and MK Breakers in the opening two weeks of the season.

It was cagey affair early on at the SSC on Saturday afternoon in front of a busy Kestrels crowd, where neither team were able to establish scoring rhythm. Kestrels did find themselves up 7-3 after Matt Hughes scored on a lay up but the visitors would respond in quick succession. After a scoreless two minutes for both squads Kestrels youngsters, Asa Aziz and Will Taylor came off the bench to push TSK to a 15-11 advantage. However the Bears finished the quarter the stronger of the sides and led 17-18 after one.

Brighton opened the second with a 7-2 run to give them their biggest lead of the game at 6, before Kestrels’ Isa Brandon and Elliot Dadds set about cutting the arrears and then Matt Hughes eventually tying things up at 25. Control of the game swung back and forth through the mid point of the quarter but a 10-0 run, capped off by former Bear Joe Lloyd’s triple, ensured the hosts held a 39-33 lead at the half time break.

The visitors flew out the blocks in the second half stringing together an 11-2 run to swing the balance and put themselves in front. That would be short lived however as Kestrels made the relevant adjustments and put a 7-0 scoring of their own up, restoring a 4 point advantage and forcing Bears into a timeout. Another 10-0 run to close the quarter for the home side would give them their biggest advantage of the game, heading into the final ten minutes now up 59-48.

TSK briefly pushed the deficit to 15 as Isa Brandon and Matt Hughes scored inside early in the 4th, however Bears would continue to hang around and keep themselves within striking distant as they responded immediately. An 8-0 run behind 4 more Matt Hughes points gave Kestrels what looked to be an insurmountable lead at 73-51, forcing a timeout for Brighton. That would not be the case out of the timeout, as the Bears weren’t finished, putting together a 9-0 run to trim the gap to just 13. Joe Lloyd settled the nerves with a trademark triple before Will Taylor scored inside to restore an 18 point advantage, on the following possessions. The sides traded scores to close across the final 2 minutes, seeing Kestrels secure their 3rd successive league victory, 83-68.

TSK Captain Elliot Dadds gave us his thoughts on a hard fought win for his side, “It was a very scrappy and physical match up, with Brighton using their size and athletic guards to apply pressure offensively. We managed to figure out ways to take them out of rhythm in the second half by switching up defences and that allowed us to play freely on the fast break. Our guys dug deep and made plays when we needed them most and we were able to take control down the stretch.”

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