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1 November 2003
SOLENT STARS 88 (32, 48, 67)
TEAM BATH ROMANS 89 (22, 40, 74)
In this, the first home league match of the season, Solent Stars lost to the unfancied Team Bath Romans in a match that they will quickly want to forget.
Yet the start had seemed so promising for the home team who had broken the deadlock of score for score in the opening six minutes to go from 19 - 20 down to lead by twelve points (32 - 20) entering the last minute of the quarter. This spell had seen baskets from Mark Jackson (8 points) Matt Srory and Nic O'Harabe. The latter had shone throughout the quarter scoring ten points, taking several rebounds and providing assists for others to score. Only Matt Crawford's several unforced errors seemed to blight the Solent progress.
Matt Story was not on court for the start of the second period and it took Solent until the third minute before they could put points on the board. Fortunately for them, Team Bath also had difficulty finding the target. Solent advanced to their biggest lead in the game - eleven points - by the eighth minute before a series of sloppy turnovers allowed Team Bath a run of points. Solent, however, had seemed to weather the storm as they came back to lead by eight at the interval (48 - 40).
Paul Mundy-Castle arrived during the half-time break, having been given a tour of southern England on his trip from London, courtesy of SW Trains. However, he alone could not be held responsible for the sudden detereriation in Solent's fortunes as they leaked 34 points in the ten minute period. Several times, Team Bath found themselves with three attackers against one defender as they piled on the points. Matt Crawford, hampered by a shoulder strain, helped Solent on defence, but was guilty of missing many scoring chances. He was not alone in this as the Solent players continued to make poor shot selection.
Despite their poor form, Solent made a gritty start to the final period as they endeavoured to get back into the game. It was the scoring of Matt Story, Mark Jackson and Nick O'Harabe that finally brought Solent to within three points (82 - 85) with three minutes remaining. Needless fouls by Duane Laight and Nick O'Harabe sent Bath to the free throw line to increase their lead to seven points before a final rally by Solent saw Mark Jackson (five points) and Matt Story reduce the lead to one point. Had Matt Story not missed his second free throw 54 seconds from time, Solent would have drawn level. As it was a frantic last minute saw both teams miss chances with Alan McDonald's final attempt for Solent not finding the target. Solent will look at the second half statistic where Bath took the rebound 25 times off their own board whilst Solent could only manage to gain 2 rebounds of the same board to see where the game was possibly lost.
SOLENT: Matt Story 27 Nick O'Harabe 23 Mark Jackson 18 Duane Laight 12 Chris Glover 4 Matt Crawford 4
TEAM BATH: Panji Grainger 23 Abe Ahmed 19 Matt Godfrey 13 Nick Jones 11 Gareth Till 11 Dave Roper 10 Barry Lamble 2
15 November 2003
SOLENT STARS 83 (23, 42, 74)
SHEFFIELD ARROWS 105 (29, 56, 77)
A weakened Solent Stars team travelled north for their second league match of the season, only to return empty-handed. Without Chris Glover, Anthony Rutter (injured) and Duane Laight, Ollie Marsh (work) Solent only had seven players on the bench for the game. One of those, Paul Mundy-Castle, also had a heavily strapped ankle.
Despite the disadvantages, Solent made the early running with two opening three pointers from birthday boy Matt Story and a further basket from Nick O'Harabe to take an 8 - 2 lead by the third minute. Sheffield came back into the game and the scores were even until they put together an eleven point run to take a 17 - 29 point lead. Solent were constantly being caught by Sheffield's long upcourt passes for players to score almost uncontested. Points from Story, Matt Crawford and Paul Mundy-Castle helped Solent reduce this deficit to just six points by the first interval.
Playing at the English Institute of Sport's court on a dark-blue floor with black lines led to several out-of-bounds violations for Solent. Sheffield Arrows took full advantage of their possession and ability to out-rebound both Crawford and O'Harabe to gradually pull away from Solent, who found themselves fourteen points in arrears at half-time.
The second half looked to continue the pattern of the first as Solent sank to a nineteen point gap (49 - 68) by the end of the third minute. However, urged on by coaches Mark Scott and Steve Fitzsimons, they then staged a magnificent rally. All seven players were involved as they improved their defensive play and with a series of fast breaks and good shots reduced the gap to just one point (72 - 73) by the ninth minute. In that period three pointers from Matt Story (2) and Alan McDonald had sparked a revival that was supported by points from O'Harabe, Crawford and Mark Jackson. Solent could not, however, find the extra points to take the lead, which may have given them a psychological advantage.
The final quarter proved an anticlimax as Solent ran out of steam. Story - understandably - lost his shooting touch and no one could take his place. In a game with many more off-the-ball foul calls than usual, it was Nick O'Harabe who became the first to foul out with 6 minutes remaining and Solent trailing 79 - 82. Sheffield took full advantage to pile on the points as Solent found themselves out-rebounded time and time again. Ultimately it was a disappointing defeat for Solent who must be hoping for more players for next week-end's matches v Ware Rebels (Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth) on Saturday and the trip to London United on Sunday.
SOLENT STARS 100 (26, 56, 79)
WARE REBELS 97 (28, 50, 74)
Another home Solent Stars game, another nail biting finish for the fans as Solent left it very late to win the game and even conspired to give Ware a last second chance to level the scores in normal time.
A lacklustre opening by Solent, playing at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth because of the unavailability of Fleming Park, allowed Ware Rebels to score several unopposed baskets at the opening of the game. Ware's known danger man, Michael Williamson, opened with two trade mark high-trajectory three pointers to put the visitors 4 - 12 ahead by the third minute. Solent hit back with baskets from Matt Story, Mark Jackson and Matt Crawford. A further three pointer from Story brought Solent back to one point at 13 - 14 by the sixth minute. For the rest of the quarter neither side played any defence of note and the teams traded points, with Ware just having the edge, despite a last minute five point flourish from Paul Mundy-Castle.
The second quarter saw Solent take an early initiative and when Matt Story landed his second three pointer of the evening Solent took the lead for the first time. Ware hit back and refused to allow the home team to build on their slim advantage and once again it was nip and tuck throughout the quarter until the last minute. That Solent were able to go in at half time with a six point lead was thanks to last minute points from Tom Parker (from a tip in under a crowded basket), Matt Story and Mark Jackson.
Matt Crawford was pleased to see the arrival on-court for the first time of Nick O'Harabe. Crawford had made little impression on the game so far, but O'Harabe helped take some of the weight off his shoulders and immediately became involved by taking several rebounds. His five points also were part of a scoring run by Solent that allowed them to build a commanding sixteen point lead (73 - 57) by the fifth minute of the quarter. Ware's main scoring threat, Williamson, was being closely marked in turn by Story and Mundy-Castle which reduced his effectiveness. Having established this comfortable lead, Solent took their foot off the pedal and that, plus a couple of show-boating turnovers, allowed Ware to gradually come back into the game.
Solent could only manage one three point effort from Matt Story in the opening two minutes of the final quarter as Ware came to within two points (82 - 80). Scores from Parker and Story opened a six point gap but by the fifth minute, Ware had levelled the scores at 86 all, before taking a two point lead. An important three point success by Mark Jackson gave Solent breathing space, as they entered the last minute ahead 97 - 94. Ware's Williamson levelled with a long three pointer, but Ware by now had lost three players through foul trouble. Crawford took advantage of the loss of Ware's big men to tip in a shot from close range and a further foul allowed Story to score one from two from the free throw line. With eight seconds left, Solent won a defensive scramble after a missed Ware shot and, unbelievably managed to pass the ball to Williamson. His shot, under pressure, missed the target to give Solent a first league victory.
Afterwards a clearly upset Solent coach, Mark Scott, kept the team in the changing room for some time, wanting an explanation of how they could almost let slip a victory that had been clearly theirs for the taking.
SOLENT Matt Story 36 Mark Jackson 21 Matt Crawford 14 Paul Mundy-Castle 11 Nick O'Harabe 9 Tom Parker 4 Alan McDonald 3 Chris Glover 2
WARE Michael Williamson 44 Ben Wallace 17 Matt Clarkson 12 Danny Scott 10 Matt Eames 6 Tom Christie 6 Allan Prescott 2
23 November 2003
SOLENT STARS 84 (17, 38, 56)
LONDON UNITED 86 (28, 46, 67)
Solent's chances of a second league victory over the weekend were dashed by the narrowest of margins on their visit to London United at Brunel University.
The visitors made an encouraging start with Alan McDonald (2), Mark Jackson (2), Matt Crawford (2), Paul Mundy-Castle (2) and Matt Story (5) all scoring as Solent raced to a 13 - 4 lead by the fourth minute. They were then unable to add to that total for three minutes as London went into a 13 - 19 advantage. With Solent only able to score four points in the last six minutes of the quarter, mainly through inaccurate shooting, London ended the first quarter ahead by eleven points.
The home side also held on to the advantage in the second quarter, although Solent doggedly stuck to their task despite a further series of missed opportunities. A further problem for Solent was when Nick O'Harabe was called for his third foul and then his protests led to a technical foul on him forcing coach Mark Scott to substitute Chris Glover in his place. O'Harabe's absence left Matt Crawford without too much help on the rebounding front, but he continued gamely to pull down a series of rebounds, giving Solent more possession than they had enjoyed in the opening quarter.
When O'Harabe returned for the third quarter it was only twelve seconds old when he picked up his fifth, and final, foul. Despite three pointers from Matt Story and Alan McDonald, it looked as if London were going to run away with the game as they built-up their biggest lead of fifteen points (50 - 65) by the closing minute. Further frustration was caused to Solent by the fact that only one foul was called on the London team in the quarter, and that was in the last minute, whilst Solent seemed to be called for minor offences throughout.
However, demonstrating coach Mark Scott's comments that he admires his team's constant ability to fight back from adversity, Solent then began to score more regularly, win more rebounds and force their opponents into errors. By the eighth minute, points from Story , Crawford, Mundy-Castle and Jackson took Solent into a six point lead (81 - 75). London then rallied and with Solent losing Mark Jackson in the last minute, having fouled out, they were unable to withstand the pressure put on them and slipped five points behind, until a long three pointer from Mundy-Castle brought them to within two points (84 - 86). The last minutes were error strewn by both teams, but Solent were unable to get shots away in their final two possessions, demonstrating the need for cooler and more experienced heads to be on court at this time.
Once again Solent Stars came out of a close match on the losing end as they fell at home to fellow league strugglers, Sutton Pumas. With both teams only having one league win to their credit in their first four matches, it was always going to be a tight game with no quarter given.
Sutton made the initial break and went 4 - 9 up by the end of the third minute. Two three pointers each from Mark Jackson and Matt Story were instrumental in Solent closing the gap and opening up a six point advantage (20 - 14). A later run of points from Jackson, Paul Mundy-Castle and Matt Crawford took Solent to a ten point lead (29 - 19) which they held onto at the end of the first quarter.
Solent looked flat at the start of the second period and by the fourth minute they had only added two points to their total. In the same time, Sutton scored fifteen points to lead 36 - 39. Nic O'Harabe, who was having an inspired game, helped Solent pick up the running again by taking several improtant rebounds and giving assists to other team members to score. It was nip and tuck for the rest of the quarter with Sutton having a four point lead at the half.
A brighter start by the home team in the third quarter, with three pointers from Alan McDonald and Story saw Solent draw level at 66 all by the fourth minute. Once again, neither side could gain more than a slender lead in the remaining five minutes of the quarter. Sutton's concern was the number of fouls being called on them, with a ratio of 2 to 1 over the Solent fouls.
It was Solent who again started the more positive team at the start of the last quarter and built up a six point lead 85 - 79 with Alan McDonald contributing four of the points.
Ironically, perhaps the turning point of the game came when - despite Sutton being called for the majority of the fouls - it was Matt Crawford who was the only player to foul out in the game with over four minutes remaining and Solent leading by just three points.
Prior to that, the game had threatened to boil over as three 'unsportsmanlike' fouls were called, two on Sutton and one on Solent.
With two minutes remaining, Solent led 96 - 95, but in that time Sutton made twelve visits to the free throw line as Solent strove to get possession of the ball after missed shots from Chris Glover, Jackson and Story.
Sutton were five points ahead with less than ten seconds left but amid mounting excitement, Mark Jackson landed two long three pointers, but Solent still fell one point short of taking the game into overtime, thanks to Sutton's captain Brian Moore scoring two free throws with four seconds left on the clock.
SOLENT Mark Jackson 29 Matt Story 29 Matt Crawford 15 Alan McDonald 13 Nick O'Harabe 8 Paul Mundy-Castle 6 Chris Glover 3
SUTTON Marlin Capers 33 Todd Cetnar 23 Tom Hull 15 David Churches 11 Mark Quashie 8 Brian Moore 6 Roger Lloyd 4 Andre Bayliss 4
6 December 2003
SOLENT STARS 93 (20, 45, 72)
WORTHING THUNDER 94 (20, 48, 76)
Having lost the opening two home league games by just one point, amazingly Solent Stars made it three one point home defeats in a row at the end of a thrilling English National League Division One contest.
Both sides made a nervous start with missed scoring opportunities in the early stages. Solent settled sooner than their high-riding opponents and opened up a brief five point gap (11 - 6) midway through the first quarter. This lead was increased when Nick O'Harabe worked well inside the Worthing defence to tip in two important baskets at this stage, but later disappointed the home crowd when he missed four consecutive free throws. Worthing were able to work their way back into the game and their fourth successful free throw of the quarter brought the scores level as the period ended.
The second quarter also was full of mistakes and incidents which kept the 400 plus crowd entertained. Worthing reached the team foul situation by the third minute and Paul Mundy-Castle was able to take immediate advantage to open his scoring account with two free throws.
Both sides were giving no quarter in this full-blooded contest as the lead changed hands five times in the quarter. Mundy-Castle provided valuable assists to help Matt Crawford and Matt Story score from close in just when it seemed Worthing might be gaining the upper hand. Crawford, in particular, was having an outstanding game both in defence and attack, even scoring his first three pointer of the season. A confused end to the half was caused by a timekeeper mistake which led to no visual last 19 seconds countdown and both teams hurried shots in an attempt to score one more basket before the interval.
A third quarter technical foul charged on hard-working Nick O'Harabe demonstrated the intensity of the game, and Worthing's subsequent possession led to a successful three point shot to take them into a four point lead (64 - 68) in a quarter where the lead had changed hands ten times in the opening five minutes.
The game looked to be all over at the end of the second minute of the final quarter when Solent lost concentration and fell eleven points behind (74 - 85). Turnovers by Alan McDonald and Matt Story gifted Worthing several points in this period.
However, once again led by their inspirational captain, Mark Jackson - who scored eight quick points - Solent found themselves trailing by just three points with two minutes remaining. David Butterworth then converted a three pointer, which turned out to be Worthing's last scoring shot. Jackson replied in like kind and Matt Crawford crowned his game by adding two more points.
A controversial out-of-bounds call by the referees gave Solent possession of the ball with nine seconds remaining. They were unable to get an uncontested shot away in this period and once again fell to the narrowest of defeats to leave them in a perilous league position prior to trips to league leaders Teesside Mohawks and Manchester Magic.
SOLENT Matt Crawford 26 Mark Jackson 23 Matt Story 22 Nick O'Harabe 15 Paul Mundy-Castle 7
WORTHING Jamal Johnson 22 Steven Gayle 20 Gaylon Moore 15 Danny Hildreth 12 David Butterworth 8 James Brame 6 Okolie Ugbana 4 Sam Mead 3 Chris Wright 2 Damien Harris 2
3 January 2004
SOLENT STARS 98 (13, 48, 81)
PLYMOUTH RAIDERS 106 (23, 56, 79)
A dreadful opening few minutes by Solent Stars with missed lay-up shots by Chris Glover, Matt Crawford and Nick O'Harabe enabled visitors Plymouth Raiders to take an early 3 - 10 lead in the opening four minutes of this English League Division One game at Fleming Park.
Solent's only scoring effort in this time was a three pointer by Mark Jackson. Matt Crawford added another three pointer just a few minutes later, but then Solent suffered another series of poor shots to allow Plymouth to open up an eleven point lead (11 - 22) mainly through the scoring of Gavin Love who was able to drive through a static defence or shoot over the Solent zone .
Love scored eleven points in this quarter, whilst Solent's usual main scorer, Matt Story, was unable to hit the target once. Solent's defensive problems were further confounded when O'Harabe picked up his third personal foul in the ninth minute of the game.
Neither side was able to play any flowing basketball in the opening periods. In part this was because of the over-fussy refereeing calls that penalised both sides and had Solent in team foul trouble by the fourth minute of the second quarter.
Drew Sewell, playing his first game for some seasons, showed some nice touches early on and contributed a couple of baskets to the Solent total when he came into the game. Three consecutive three pointers by the visitors late in the first half saw them go into a commanding fourteen point lead (42 - 56) before a late flurry of points from Mark Jackson (2) and Matt Crawford (4) helped Solent rein it in to just eight points.
Matt Story, having scored just six first half points, came out like a man possessed at the start of the second half. He scored Solent's opening eleven points and his spectacular round-the-back pass for fellow American, Matt Crawford, to score with a slam dunk, brought Solent level at 66 all in the fourth minute.
Solent in this period outscored Plymouth 13 - 0 over two minutes to take a six point lead. Plymouth regrouped and were able to slow the rate of Solent's scoring whilst upping their own to come back to a two point difference at the end of the third quarter.
Coach Steve Fitzsimons was forced to use all his time-outs in the final period as he recognised that the team was tiring. With Duane Laight and Drew Sewell not having played at this level for some time and Chris Glover just returning from injury, his options for substitutions were limited.
He felt he could not put the three younger, inexperienced members of the squad on court, despite the fact that four of the team were carrying four fouls for the last few minutes. Solent gradually fell behind in this period but were offered a ray of hope when Plymouth's American, Terrence Durham, fouled out with 3 minutes 24 seconds remaining and the score standing 90 - 99 in Plymouth's favour.
In the event, Solent could not take advantage of this and it was the high-riding Plymouth team - with only one league defeat - who were able to finish more strongly despite a late couple of scores by Crawford and Story.
SOLENT Matt Story 37 Mark Jackson 22 Matt Crawford 20 Nick O'Harabe 8 Drew Sewell 6 Duane Laight 5
PLYMOUTH Gavin Love 42 Terrence Durham 23 DeAntoine Beasley 19 Myron riley 10 Dean Williams 6 Deng Deng 4 Mark Cahill 2
18 January 2004
SOLENT STARS 69 (23, 39, 55)
SHEFFIELD ARROWS 71 (17, 36, 52)
Solent Stars were dealt a hammer blow in this Divison One men's game at Fleming Park against lowly Sheffield Arrows when top-scorer, Matt Story, had to leave the game in the first half with a suspected broken finger. He had not been too prominent early on as Nick O'Harabe stole the headlines by scoring and making several valuable assists that gave points to Mark Jackson, Matt Story and Matt Crawford. Two baskets from birthday boy Crawford, followed by a further score by Story, edged Solent into a seven point lead (23 - 16) entering the last minute of the first quarter. One final successful free throw from Sheffield meant that Solent held a six point advantage at the end at the first break.
O'Harabe turned the ball over twice in the early stages of the second quarter. This allowed Sheffield to come within two points and forced coach Mark Scott to call a very early time-out. Six successful free throws by Matt Crawford saw Solent once again take a small lead. The game at this stage was full of mistakes with both sides guilty of overelaboration and poor shooting. Only 35 points were scored in the quarter with Sheffield able to halve their deficit by half time.
In fact the second quarter points total proved to be more than both teams could muster in each of the final two quarters. Without Story - who has scored over 600 points this season at an average of 32 points a game - Solent were not able to pick up the scoring rate. Luckily for them, Sheffield were just as inept, as the teams continued to trade baskets - but not very often!
Solent briefly looked as if they might take the game as Mark Jackson successfully launched two three pointers to give them a 66 - 60 lead with four minutes remaining. But in a repeat of so many games this season, Solent were unable to take advantage of the situation and even contrived to help their opponents by turning the ball over at vital times. A turnover allowed Sheffield to score with 58 seconds remaining when Solent were forced to foul the player who had received the ball. He could only score one from the free throw line to give Sheffield a narrow 67 - 68 point lead. Unbelievably, Solent immediately turned over the subsequent put-in which resulted in a further two points for Sheffield. Nic O'Harabe then fouled out, but Sheffield missed both the free shots. Chris Glover gained the rebound and set Mark Jackson on course for goal. He was fouled and with 11 seconds remaining, he went to the free throw line. He scored the first (68 - 70) and although he threw the ball hard at the ring, hoping for a rebound to Crawford, the ball went into the basket. Trailing by one point, Solent were forced to foul and it was Jackson who did so, thus reaching his fifth foul. Sheffield scored from the second shot, but then Solent - with inexperienced players on court - committed their final turnover of the game to leave Sheffield in possession for the final 9 seconds.
SOLENT Matt Crawford 23 Mark Jackson 20 Nick O'Harabe 18 Matt Story 7 Alan McDonald 1
SHEFFIELD Carter Abnet 22 Adrian Anderson 12 Jamie Davidson 10 David Waite 10 Garnett Gayle 7 Kingsley Ellmer 5 Patrick Cory 3 Danny Richards 2
SOLENT STARS 100 (29, 49, 69)
KINGSTON WILDCATS 105 (24, 48, 76)
Two technical fouls on the Solent bench proved the visitors' undoing in this closely fought English League Division One game at Kingston Arena.
Solent travelled with a weakened squad, having found out at the last minute that Tom Parker was needed for Army duties and joined an absentee list that included Alan McDonald (illness), Drew Sewell and Duane Laight (work). In addition, Matt Crawford was suffering from a heavy cold.
Despite these drawbacks, Solent opened well and by the fourth minute were leading 12 - 5 with points from Nick O'Harabe (5), Crawford (4) and Matt Story (3). Solent's fluency was interrupted when Chris Glover had to leave the game with a bloodied nose. He was replaced by Rob de'Ath, whose first touch was a successful fast break lay-up. With Kingston's Wayne Henry an ever-present threat (he scored 26 first half points in his match total of 43) and some successful three point attempts, the home team moved to within two points of Solent (23 - 21) before a late spurt by Solent gave them a five point advantage at the first interval.
Solent could only manage seven points in the opening seven minutes of the second quarter and found themselves trailing by 36 - 43 at that time. This was because of poor shot selection, a series of turnovers and too many unsuccessful individual attempts to penetrate the Kingston defence for which Mark Jackson and Matt Story were the main culprits. It was Jackson who brought an end to this poor scoring with a two pointer and then immediately stealing the ball to start a four man move that ended with Crawford tipping the ball in. With renewed confidence, Jackson scored a three pointer in a spell which took Solent into a four point lead (49 - 45) before Kingston had the last score of the half.
The first crucial technical foul came at the end of the first minute of the second half. O'Harabe by then had missed an easy opening lay-up, fouled a three point shooter, to gift Kingston three points from the free thRow line, and was then called for a second foul in the half. He was substituted by coach Scott, but O'Harabe kicked a team bench chair and a technical foul was called. O'Harabe thought that was his fifth and immediately left the court without a word to his team. This put even more pressure on the not fully fit Matt Crawford, who responded by giving one of his best performances yet seen for the club. However, Solent's lack of strength in depth gradually told as they fell seven points behind at the end of the quarter.
Ollie Marsh added pace to Solent's last ditch efforts to save the game and his four points and several steals helped Solent to level the scores at 98 all with 58 seconds remaining. Then the second crucial technical foul was awarded against Solent. Story had the ball and was progressing upcourt in front of the Solent bench. He was being pressured by a Kingston defender and the referee adjudged that Story had put his foot out-of-bounds. Both Solent coaches immediately disputed the call - of which they had a good view - and the referee called a technical foul which gave Kingston two free shots - both successful - and mid-way possession of the ball. Solent could find no way back after that.
Afterwards Solent director Jim Rumsey said that the team had been once again badly let down by O'Harabe's failure to stay the course. "He has fouled out in nearly one third of our cup and league matches, and often for the wrong reason. Ironically he did not foul out in this game, because the referee called the foul against the team coach. However, as he immediately absented himself - and was not in the right frame of mind to continue anyway - we did not use him again."
Solent: Matt Story 37, Matt Crawford 32, Mark Jackson 18, Nick O'Harabe 5, Ollie Marsh 4, Rob de'Ath 4
7 February 2004
SOLENT STARS 110 (23, 49, 75)
TEAM BATH ROMANS 96 (29, 53, 73)
The Solent Stars may have arrived late for their match at Bath on Saturday night but they had the final word winning 110-96.
After a nightmare journey up the A36 which included road closures, diversions and heavy traffic in the Bath area, the Stars took some time to get going in the match but showed their strength and power in the second half, led by American Matt Story who scored 22 of his 52 point total in the final quarter.
Understandably Solent were sluggish in the first quarter which allowed Bath to dictate the play, and they powered through the middle of Solent's leaky defence on numerous occasions. Ex Solent Star, Panji Grainger scored 6 and rookie Barry Lamble 10 during this period and Solent had to dig deep to stay with their lowly opponents whose form, at this point, belied their position in the league.
Matt Crawford weighed in with 5 points before Story began his scoring with a 3 pointer. Indeed, Story cut Bath's lead to 3 with another 3 pointer with 4 seconds left in the quarter only for Bath's Matt Godfrey to reply with a speculative lob from close to the half way line. (29-23)
In the second quarter Bath continued to play their inside game to some success, with Lamble adding a further 8 points to his tally, while Mark Jackson took over the scoring responsibility for the Stars with their next 11 points, and contributing 15 points in total in the period.
Solent were still struggling to stop the Romans, but during a time out Coach for the night, Steve Fitzsimmons, changed the team's defense by instructing them to play a much narrower formation. This had the effect of making it more difficult for Bath to penetrate and Solent began to force them into more and more turnovers. The quarter ended with Jackson scoring a lay up with 1 second to go leaving the Stars trailing by only 4 points. (53-49)
The Stars' tactics were brought into question early in the second half when Godfrey scored another 3 pointer but Solent soon began to eat into the lead with Story netting a 3 pointer of his own. A further 5 points from Story and 2 for Nick O'Harabe finally put them into the lead, and this set the pattern for the rest of the quarter.
With Solent leading by a point, Coach Fitzsimmons incurred the wrath of the referee who called a technical foul against him for disputing a foul call. The Romans, however, were unable to take advantage and failed to score with the subsequent free throw and possession, while Story went to the other end and put the Stars 3 points up.
Bath came back at the Stars and it needed 5 more points from Story and 2 from Jackson to keep them in front at the end of the quarter. (73-75)
The final quarter was "Storytime" with Matt Story scoring 11 of the Stars' first 15 points of the quarter to put Solent into a healthy lead. Bath on the other hand were now struggling to contain the Stars and also having difficulty in mounting an effective offence. This was despite the fact that Matt Crawford, who was the only Solent player with any sort of foul trouble, sat out most of quarter on 4 fouls.
With Solent up by 9 points and 5.54 left in the game Bath Coach, Dave Roper, called a time out but this did not have the desired effect as 2 minutes later he was again calling time out, Solent now up by 13.
There is a new-found confidence about Solent at the moment and from here on in they were showboating, with both Story and O' Harabe scoring spectacular slam dunks although O'Harabe did mar his performance just before the end, picking up a technical foul for unsportsmanlike conduct. Barry Lamble had continued to be Bath's most effective player and completed the scoring with a 3 pointer to take his total to 33, leaving Solent with a 14 point winning margin.
Solent have 2 crucial games next week. On Saturday they play at home to London United (Fleming Park 8.00pm) and on Sunday they travel to Reading to take on the Rockets (Rivermead Leisure Centre 4.00pm)
Team Bath Romans; Lamble 33, Grainger 20, Godfrey 19, Yabsley 14, Analts 5, Sutcliffe 2, Till 2, Mackrill 1.
Solent Stars; Story 52, Jackson 22, O'Harabe 19, Crawford 7, Glover 6, MacDonald 4
14 February 2004
SOLENT STARS 89 (19, 40, 60, 77)
LONDON UNITED 83 (20, 34, 55, 77)
The Solent Stars finally overcame their hoodoo at the hands of London United this season but they needed overtime to do it. On 3 previous occasions this season they had lost to London by 5, 4, and 2 points respectively and on Saturday night it was even closer at the end of regular time with the scores level at 77-77. However, in overtime, they outscored their stubborn opponents by 12-6 to take the win, their third in succession in the league.
The game began slowly with neither team able to get into a rythym. Pete Deppish put London into a 9-4 lead after 3 and a half minutes only for Mark Jackson to reply almost instantly. Nick O'Harabe then scored with a slam dunk to put Solent level after he, himself, had stolen the ball. London's Damien Reid began to cause Solent defensive problems but Matt Story, despite missing a 3 point shot put Solent back in the lead from the free throw line. The lead was to be short lived, however, as London stormed back with 2 from Earl Seaman and 5 more from Deppish. (19-20)
O'Harabe scored 4 quick points at the start of the second quarter to restore Solent's lead only for Deppish to reply with another 3 pointer. Once again, neither team was able to establish a fluent style and Solent only levelled the scores with 2 minutes to go in the quarter, as Matt Crawford was fouled when scoring and converted the free throw. Story then scored 2 quick 3 pointers and London's coach was forced to call a timeout. This did not, however, have the desired effect as Solent went in at half time still leading by 6. (40-34)
Walid Mumuni scored the first points of the second half for London, but a smart move by Solent gave Story an easy 2 points and he scored a 3 pointer soon after to give Solent a 9 point lead. Steve Vear then brought London back into the game and Solent began to look a little shaky. 2 steals by Story restored order and gave, first Ollie Marsh a 3 pointer and then O'Harabe 2 points and a third from the free throw line and Solent lead by 10. Once again London came back with 3 points from Deppish and this time Coach Mark Scott called a time out, concerned about Solent's defence. Young english player Ollie Marsh again stepped up for Solent with 4 quick points and this time it was London who were calling time out. Despite 3 point plays from both their Americans, Story and Crawford, Solent could not maintain a big lead as Reid and Vear kept London within 5 at the end of the quarter (60-55).
Reid took his personal total on to 26 with 2 free throw at the beginning of the 4th quarter ans Seaman soon cut Solent's lead to 2. A Jackson steal gave 2 more points to Marsh, but after Seaman had mishandled Solent had trouble capitalising, with Crawford eventually scoring just one from the free throw line. Marsh returned the compliment for Jackson to give Solent a 6 point lead but Deppish was fouled soon after and scored 2 from 3 free throws. He and Story exchanged 3 pointers after that, and when Reid was fouled when scoring the resulting free throw cut Solent's lead to 1 with 4 mins to go. After Story had scored with a 3 pointer London called time out but Deppish then missed with his next shot. Seaman was fouled by O'Harabe and Story and Deppish then swapped fouls on each other and this allowed the London man to finally level the scores. Solent had one more possession with 15 seconds on the clock but Story's 3 point attempt bounced off the ring. (77-77)
Solent came out strong at the start of overtime with Story, Jackson, and O'Harabe all scoring in a 10-2 run and London's hopes vanished soon after, as Deppish was called for a 5th foul and team mate Seaman followed him out of the game after being called for a tachnical foul. Solent escaped one further scare when Marsh was adjudged to have fouled Vear but he failed from the with his free throw. (89-83)
Solent Stars; Story 34, Jackson 18, O'Harabe15, Marsh 12, Crawford 8, Duke 2.
London United; Reid 33, Deppish 22, Seaman 9, Vear 8, Cricelli 6, Mumuni 3, Jacobs 2.
15 February 2004
SOLENT STARS 82 (14, 33, 60)
READING ROCKETS 107 (21, 56, 79)
Solent Stars' 3 game winning streak came to an emphatic end on Sunday as they were brought back down to earth by the Reading Rockets.
The Rockets had demolished second placed Manchester Magic at the Rivermead on Saturday and were in no mood to allow a Solent outfit, tired from their overtime game the night before with London United, to spring a surprise. The Stars bid for a play-off place now appears on a knife edge bearing in mind that they still have to play 4 of the top 5 teams.
The game began with numerous failed possessions from both sides before Nick O'Harabe and Mark Jackson put the Stars 5 points up only for Reading to respond with a 3 from Richard Wellings. Matt Story then scored for Solent before Ted Smith was fouled and scored with 2 free throws. Reading finally took the lead when Wellings tipped in a shot from Peder Madsen. The lead changed hands several times before a 24 second violation and a foul by Tom Parker allowed Jermaine Williams to take Reading' lead to 6. The Rockets were rebounding well offensively but were often unable to convert their possessions and
this kept the game close at the end of the first quarter.
Matt Story caused a turnover at the start of the second quarter to cut the lead to 5 but Reading hit back through James Cook and Williams. O `Harabe again responded but a quick break by Reading left Ollie Marsh with no alternative than to foul Madsen. Smith then wriggled through the Stars defence for 2 to give Reading an 11 point lead. Solent's offence was scoring consistently at this point but Reading's quick breaks were giving them easy baskets at the other end. Rockets' coach Dave Titmuss called a time out and this had the desired effect as they increased their lead to 23 before Story was fouled as the buzzer sounded. Unfortunately he missed both free throws.
There was a scrappy start to the second half with both teams again struggling to find a rythym. For Solent Ollie Marsh came to the fore, first being fouled and scoring from the free throw line, then causing 2 turnovers one which Tom Parker was unable to convert and one from which he himself scored. Parker then did find his range with two 3 pointers but still the Stars were unable to stop Reading scoring and trailed by 19 points. Reading suffered a blow when point guard Adam Kelly fouled out with just under 3 minutes of the quarter to go. (79-60).
Solent's Marsh suffered the same fate as Kelly early in the last quarter and Wellings rubbed salt into Solent's wounds by increasing Reading's lead. Mark Jackson scored two 3 pointers in the quarter but Solent were unable to reduce the lead and, indeed, the Rockets' even increased the margin to 25 through Matt Johnson and Wellings. O'Harabe was unfortunate when picking up his foul, with 3 and a half minutes to go but Story then picked up a rebound and gave Solent 3 more. Reading's Cook had to leave the court with a leg injury with just over 2 minutes left, but when Mike O'Hanlon scored his only 2 of the game, for the Rockets it meant that everyone in the Rockets team had scored. Story rounded off Solent's scoring with a jump shot and then one from the free throw line, having been fouled but Reading had the last word with Ted Smith scoring a 2 and then making a steal and allowing the clock to run down
Scorers: Reading Rockets; Wellings 20, Smith 19, Williams 18, Madsen 14, Cook 13, Kelly 10, Gardner 6, Johnson 4,O'Hanlon 2, Hodds 1
Solent Stars; Story 33, O'Harabe 16, Crawford 11, Jackson 10, Parker 9, Marsh 3
3 April 2004
SOLENT STARS 86 (13, 35, 55)
MANCHESTER MAGIC 113 ( 28, 56, 88)
Solent Stars rang down the curtain on a second successive disappointing season with a lacklustre performance against Manchester Magic in front of one of their largest crowds of the season.
Already missing their only genuine tall player, 6' 10" Matt Crawford, with a foot injury, Solent were no match in height for the bigger and more experienced visitors. This was evident from the start of the game when Manchester quickly built up a 2 - 20 lead by the seventh minute. Several of the points came from second chance shots as Manchester gathered almost every rebound off the boards. Rather surprisingly it took six minutes before coach Mark Scott called a time-out to try to stem the flow of points against the home team. Scott, who recently defended his squad by saying that they were playing as best they can, must have been disappointed at their shooting performance in the first quarter as shots were both missed or not taken at all, even when the opportunities arose. Chief offender in the shot avoidance category was Nick O'Harabe who was left open at the top of the key on several occasions. After the time out, the arrival on court of young Ollie Marsh injected some life into the Solent attack as he landed an early three pointer. A brief run of points at this stage brought Solent to only nine points in arrears (11 - 20) before Manchester put their foot on the pedal again to lead by 15 points at the end of the first quarter.
With Solent's defence constantly being exposed, it was no surprise when Mark Jackson, who with O'Harabe provided most of the defensive cover, was called for his fourth foul midway through the quarter. This gave ample opportunity for the Manchester team to continue peppering the Solent goal almost at will. Twelve second quarter points by Jackson helped Solent to put a few extra points on the board, but the home team needed more points from American Matt Story if they were to stay in touch.
Further disaster struck for Solent in the third minute of the second half when the game ended for the captain, Mark Jackson, as he picked up his fifth and final foul. Solent were trailing by 20 points at the time and it looked as if they could be completely overrun when by two minutes later Manchester led 48 - 78. This proved to be the spur that Story needed and he began to score more regularly, and he was supported by Nick O'Harabe who also found the target on several occasions.
In the final segment of the game, Tom Parker took up the scoring mantle also for Solent as they rallied bravely without ever threatening the insuperable Manchester lead. The home team received encouragement throughout the game from the 485 spectators as Solent lost their final home game to fourth placed in the league, Manchester Magic.
After the game, the season's awards ceremony took place with the trophies being presented by John Amaechi, recently retired from the NBA. The winners were: Players' Player - Mark Jackson; Most Promising Newcomer - Ollie Marsh; Runner - up Player of the Year - Matt Story; Supporters' Player of the Year - Mark Jackson.
SOLENT Matt Story 31, Nick O'Harabe 18, Tom Parker 13, Mark Jackson 12, Ollie Marsh 6, Alan McDonald 4, Carl Duke 2
MANCHESTER John Shaw 18 Callum Jones 17 John Amaechi 13 George Parissos 12 Adam Slater 11, Steve Boonham 11, Stefan Gill 9, Jeff Bevington 8, Samit Nureyev 7, Andrew Lytolis 7