Mixed weekend for Division One teams

Men lose in league but progress in Cup

It was a mixed weekend for Lions Division One teams as the men split their pair of game and the women lost 79-72 at home against Reading Rockets.

James Vear’s men went down 106-88 against Hemel Storm in a league game before bouncing back to seal a place in the National Cup with a 77-53 home victory against Oaklands Wolves.

Lions found Hemel’s American pair Greg Poleon and Taylor Johnson unstoppable as they combined for 75 points. Poleon had a 38 point, 13 rebound double-double in just 27 minutes while Johnson had eight assists and seven rebounds to go with his 37 points.

Vear clearly had mixed thoughts about the weekend:

“We weren’t great on Saturday” he admitted. “We spent all week working on how to stop two guys, and they killed us. We didn’t do a good job sticking to the game plan and it showed. Sunday was way better. I think the guys wanted to make sure they had a better performance and it was one of our better defensive displays of the season. We pressed for the majority of the game and it worked.”

Elijah Maynard led Lions with a season-high 27 points, while Jase Harrison had 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Bradley Kaboza added 14 points, but Lions found themselves dominated on the boards as Hemel out-rebounded them 61-40.

A high-scoring opening period saw Maynard’s triple cut Hemel’s lead to 30-27 at the first break but Storm took control in the second quarter and despite Stephen Asante’s late three, the hosts trailed 57-43 going into the half-time break.

That deficit grew to 78-61 at the final break despite Ignas Juskevicius;s,lay-up before the sides split 56 fourth period points as Lions lost their fifth league game of the season.

Harrison led the way with 21 points the following day as a strong second half saw Lions book a trip to Hemel in the last eight.

The hosts led 25-19 at the first break, with Wolves chipping a point off that lead in the second quarter as Lions led 35-30 at half-time.

But a 23-11 third period put Vear’s team in charge and they wrapped things up with a 19-12 final quarter. Haydn Ling finished with ten points for Lions with Brandon Tchouya adding nine.

Meanwhile, Lions’ women were made to pay for a poor fourth period as they slipped to defeat against Rockets.

David Lavinier’s side were 65-62 up heading into the final stanza and were still a point up with five minutes remaining before ten unanswered unanswered points gave the visitors victory

Earlier in the game, Lions had overcome a poor start as Fatmata Janneh’s trey tied things at 22 going into the first break and the hosts finished the first half strongly to lead 44-40 heading into the locker room.

Four straight Janneh free-throws gave Lions a three point lead at the final break and she hit a triple to keep her side ahead before the late collapse saw them suffer their seventh league loss of the campaign.

Janneh continued her standout season by leading Lions with a 38 point, ten rebound double-double, adding four assists and as many steals. Nicholle Lavinier added 12 points and five boards, with Chenai Mushore having seven rebounds to go with her eight points.