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Image Courtesy | Kai Johnson

Team Solent Kestrels punched their ticket to the NBL Division 2 Men’s playoff final on Saturday evening with an emphatic 110-51 victory over the #1 seed in the North, Bristol Hurricanes. The game was played in unusual circumstances behind closed doors with extremely short notice, leaving a number of travelling Kestrels fan unable to support after making the trip west to Bristol.

Isa Brandon dominated proceedings posting 30 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists whilst Russ Gariepy added 28, 5 rebounds and 4 steals and Ash Briggs joined them in double figures chipping in 13.

After a delay to the originally billed tip off time the game got underway in back and forth fashion, with both teams finding paints scores early. It was however the visitors who edged ahead inside 3 minutes 12-8 after Russ Gariepy knocked down a transition three pointer. Kestrels pushed the lead to 6 across the mid point of the quarter through Ash Briggs, who used his skillset to finish over his physical defender. Hurricanes trimmed the gap to just a point before TSK eventually closed the period on a 14-3 run, capped off by a Will Taylor buzzer beater.

Briggs scored 5 unanswered to open the second quarter, however both squads scoring would dry up over the next 3 minutes with just 3 points put on the board from both combined. Bristol clawed their way back to just 9 points down through Edozie with a little under 4 minutes remaining in the half however Elliot Dadds replied with a triple of his own to settle the Kestrels. TSK 54-37 to the good at the interval.

Both teams were in free scoring mood to open the second half as Bristol scored 6 quick points but the Kestrels duo of Brandon and Gariepy were not to be denied either. A 10-0 run through the middle of the third quarter could have been the run that effectively ended this one as a contest as Kestrels extended the deficit to 27 forcing Hurricanes into a timeout. In perhaps the most impressive feat of the ball game Kestrels held the hosts scoreless for the final 6 minutes 42 seconds of the third quarter.

TSK took a 32 point advantage into the final stanza and a quick 6-0 run capped off with an Ash Briggs dunk ended any faint hopes Bristol had of mounting a come back. A combination of 8 technical fouls on the Hurricanes over the next two minutes slowed the fourth quarter down but it was Kestrels who remained professional through-out, taking a 110-51 victory.

Kestrels head to Manchester this coming Saturday (6pm) in the season finale against Milton Keynes Breakers for the playoff final title at the National Basketball Performance Centre. Tickets for the Supporters Coach are on sale now here;

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