Back row: Mark Thornber, Mark Scott, Paul Philp, Johnny Brown, Pete Heslegrave, Phil Smith
Front row: Andy Hill, Drew Sewell, Paul Dorwood, Nic Burns, David Brown, Ian Finch
In mid-July, the announcement was made that a player with Solent Stars during their glory days, Mark Saiers, was to be the new coach. Saiers was about to pack his bags in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA - where he had gone back to live - and enjoy the task of putting together a new Solent Stars squad.
To help him in this task, a new sponsorship deal - rumoured to be in the region of £50,000 - had been made available from Draper Tools. A possibility of the deal extending past the forthcoming season had also been agreed. The team would be called Draper Tools Solent Stars. Saiers' appointment would mean that Solent would have a full-time coach for the first time since Jim Kelly. Just as he was to Kelly, Steve Fitzsimons was also recruited to be the assistant to Saiers.
Their first task was to find players capable of challenging for honours. TJ Robinson would not be returning from America and with Deora Marsh, now in Spain, unlikely to be offered another contract, both American spots were open.
The places were eventually filled by Phil Smith and Johnny Brown who arrived in the country only shortly ahead of a pre-season friendly against Bracknell. Mark Saiers had spotted them playing for the same team in America and had been impressed. Both players had played at the University of New Mexico and also spent time playing in Mexico. From the English game, Drew Sewell was recruited from Derby and Mark Scott from Manchester United. Both recently had lean seasons, Sewell because of a loss of form and Scott because of a surfeit of talented players at Manchester. Sewell - already capped 33 times by England - cost £1500 in transfer fees and Scott cost £1000. Nic Burns and David Brown re-signed but Mike Griffiths (who went to Kingston) and Roy Lewis (to Portsmouth) rejected their offer. Solent, aware that money was still an issue for survival were in no mood to offer more under the stewardship of finance director Trevor Nichols. Although Paul Philp had figured in Mark Saiers plans, an ankle injury ruled him out for the present time.
The men behind the scenes were John Draper and David Varcoe-Baylis (both representing Draper Tools), Roger Nash, Malcolm Le Bas, Richard Tear, Norman Exelby and Derek Etherden, as well as Trevor Nichols.
In effect, Solent only had a squad of six players for their first friendly game against Bracknell. The new American players scored 65 of Solent's total points in the victory over Bracknell (107 - 105). With Sewell scoring over 20 points and Scott organising the defence well, Solent belied the fact that the squad had only been together for a few days prior to this game. One failing seemed to persist from the previous season when Solent - from a comfortable 89 - 72 lead - allowed Bracknell to level the scores at 103 before Brown scored two late baskets in an exciting climax.
Solent's first home game was against Portsmouth - last season's champions. Portsmouth was still a rich club and had just returned from a five game foreign tour warm-up for the season. Included in their squad was ex-Solent player, Roy Lewis. Obviously, coach Mark Saiers was looking for an upset but it was not to be as Portsmouth cruised to a sixth consecutive win over Solent, this time the score being 88 - 102. The numerical smallness of the squad restricted Solent's defensive abilities once Smith and Brown reached foul trouble and the physical smallness (Nic Burns excluded) meant the Portsmouth controlled the boards. Mark Saiers was also concerned at the number of Solent turnovers in the game - a factor of tiredness as the game went on with little chance of rest.
It was this same factor that was the main quote from Saiers after the next game, a home victory in the Prudential Cup against newly-reformed Worthing. Worthing were now a second division team made up of many of their previous players, including prolific three point scorer, Billy Hungrecker, and ex-Solent Star, Phil Waghorn. Solent quickly established a comfortable 18-point halftime lead (57 - 39). However, Worthing were allowed to pull this lead back to 12 points (99 - 87) before six successive Solent baskets - three from Johnny Brown - restored the balance from the home team's point of view. Solent won 111 - 91 but Saiers said about the second half performance, "I think some of the reason for that was fatigue. We haven't had a lot of games and when you start getting tired you have to concentrate a lot harder and maybe that is something you just have to go through."
Roy Lewis (then playing for Portsmouth) surrounded by Mark Scott (left) and Drew Sewell
Johnny Brown figured heavily in the scoring again when Solent played their next game, away to Birmingham. He bagged 40 points in a match which Solent easily won 130 - 96. Drew Sewell also scored highly (33 points) and Phil Smith weighed in with 29 of his own. The foundation for the win was the first half performance which saw Solent 70 - 36 ahead at the interval.
Solent were also in a commanding lead just three days later at Granby Halls, Leicester. It would have been a 20 point halftime lead but for a last ditch effort from a Leicester player in his own half that went in for three points. The second half was a different story as Leicester came back strongly and tied the scores with minutes remaining. By then, critically for Solent, they had lost Mark Scott (fouling out) and Smith (wrist injury). This restricted their ability to fight back and eventually lost the game 103 - 108.
Home court advantage proved decisive as Sunderland came to Fleming Park on the following Wednesday. Despite many close games in recent seasons, the Wearsiders were no match for Mark Saiers' rampant free-scoring Solent squad. Brown (34), Smith (32), Scott (24) and Sewell (21) were in scoring mode as Solent ran up a winning 125 - 88 score. It was even possible for the junior players in the squad - Paul Dorward, Ian Finch and Andy Hill - to have extended court time, so complete was Solent's superiority. Only Russ Saunders (39) offered any resistance to Solent's dominance.
For Solent's next away game - at Derby - Johnny Brown was given a specific defensive role. His job was to try to nullify the high scoring threat of Derby's Anthony Tanner. So successful was Brown in this role that Tanner was unable to get a shot on basket for the first ten minutes and eventually - with just seven points to his name - he fouled out in frustration early in the second half. Assistant coach, Steve Fitzsimons, said, "I don't like to single people out as it is a team effort this year, but Johnny did a great job in shutting Tanner down. I haven't seen a player shut down so effectively since Mark Saiers last played for us - that's how effective he was". The end result was a 102 - 69 victory for Solent.
A home Prudential Cup match followed for Solent. Opponents Crystal Palace had recently recruited a few seasoned players to completely change the make-up of their squad from a very young team to one comprising several very experienced players - including Jimmie Guymon, Joe White and Renaldo Lawrence. Solent managed to go in just four points ahead (49 - 45) in what was proving to be a bruising encounter. Several Solent players - including Phil Smith and Mark Scott - were on four fouls early in the second half. The home team was being given an exceptional performance by Nic Burns, who gained many rebounds and scored 24 points. Crystal Palace came within ten points of Solent with just over two minutes remaining, but it was the home team that passed into the quarter-final with a late burst of points to win 117 - 98 (Brown 37).
The next visitors to Fleming Park were league leaders Livingston, the Scottish champions from the previous season. Solent were nearly always ahead in the game (51 - 46 at halftime) save for a short period in the second half when it took a three pointer from Johnny Brown to restore it. Livingston seemed unable to raise their game and Solent held on for a 105 - 94 win. Phil Smith (38) and Johnny Brown (20) were again the top scorers.
Solent briefly went top of the table following victory in their next game - home to Hemel. Just one second of the encounter remained when Mark Scott pounced on a loose ball to force home the winning basket (102 - 101). It was enough to give Solent their first home win of the season and their first over Hemel in three seasons. Solent had opened up an early commanding lead of 17 points but by that time, Phil Smith had picked up his third foul. This persuaded coach Mark Saiers to take the player off to protect his foul tally. Hemel immediately responded by scoring freely and Solent themselves were only able to add one basket in five minutes. Smith returned after halftime and generally Solent looked to be in control until a basket by Noel Leon four seconds from time put Hemel 100 - 101 ahead. Amidst pandemonium on court the officials stopped the game and put the clock back to seven seconds. At this stage, Solent called a timeout to gather the team's thoughts for one final surge. The plan was to get Smith running at the Hemel defence and hope either for a basket from him or a rebound to present itself to one of his team-mates following in behind. Inevitably the plan relied heavily on chance but, with luck on their side, it turned out to be the perfect finale for the home supporters. As ordered, Smith ran straight at the Hemel defence who surprisingly failed to box out the area surrounding their basket. Given a free path, Smith got in a shot, though not of the kind he desired, as the ball hit the board before coming out. But as Hemel stood and watched, Scott grabbed the loose ball and popped it home amongst a cluster of arms just as the final buzzer went.
Whilst Solent had no game the following weekend, their next opponents - Manchester United - used their victory to leapfrog over Solent at the top of the table. Thus Solent's visit to Manchester became a top of the table clash. Solent got off to their usual flying start thanks to Smith and Brown and still led seven minutes into the second half. As tiredness crept in, coach Saiers had no bench depth at this level that he could use whereas Manchester's coach, Joe Whelton, could rotate more of his squad and not lose the impetus. Although Solent lost 93 - 103 they had fought well and avoided the humbling scorelines that had been the case with the last two visits.
The quarter-final of the Prudential Cup paired Solent with Leicester in a match at the Granby Halls, where Solent had lost earlier in the season. It was a case of history repeating itself as Solent roared away to establish a 55 - 44 lead at halftime. However, Leicester were able to retrieve the situation yet again as Solent almost ground to a halt in the second half and from leading by 11 points they found themselves trailing by 15 points with little time left. By then there was little chance of Solent getting back into this sell-out match and Smith confirmed that this was to be the case by getting himself fouled out of the game late on. Apart from Smith's 41 points, Johnny Brown recorded 29 but there was little scoring support from anyone else with Mark Scott netting 10, Drew Sewell 5, David Brown 4 and Nic Burns only 2.
To add to their misery Solent lost away again just two days later when they went down 104 - 122 in a Carlsberg League game at Bolton and Bury. This made it a third successive defeat and a challenge for coach Mark Saiers to rally his team.
A visit to his old stamping ground at Crystal Palace helped in the recuperation process as Solent won a game that they always dictated (104 - 84).
Next came a visit to Bracknell, just three days later. This was another game that Solent led throughout, although never with the same comfort as at Crystal Palace. Every time Solent threatened to pull away, Bracknell would come back with several baskets to narrow the score difference. So it came as no surprise that Solent led by just one point with 18 seconds remaining - and Solent had just been called for a foul. As per the rules operating at the time, Bracknell could take a free throw and, if successful, another free throw could be taken, or they could take possession of the ball from the sideline. In the event, Bracknell took the latter option, thinking themselves capable of piercing the Solent defence to score a winning basket and leave Solent no time to reply. However, Solent proved themselves of sterner stuff and Bracknell's shot was made under a lot of pressure. The shot rimmed the basket and the rebound was grabbed by Mark Scott and a Bracknell player with just 3 seconds remaining - and Bracknell called a timeout! Solent felt confident that Mark Scott would be able to win the jump ball, but where would the loose ball go? Their fears were confirmed when it fell into the hands of Mick Bett. Bett shot and a superhuman leap by Phil Smith led to the faintest finger touch on the ball, but it was enough to deflect the ball off-target and Solent won 81 - 80.
After a period of six weeks of away matches, Solent finally returned to Fleming Park on Friday December 4th, 1987. It was not to be a case of happy return. Calderdale were the opponents and unusually for a Solent game it was the visitors who led the way with the early scoring and built up a 15 point lead (21 - 36) before Solent came into the game and were leading 53 - 50 at halftime. However, Solent were running into foul trouble and the curse of the numerical small squad was about to strike again. This time the wound was self-inflicted. Johnny Brown was called for a foul and he persisted to advise the referee on how he had arrived at a wrong decision before, allegedly, barging the official. The accuracy of the original decision may have been questionable (plenty of others certainly were, according to the match reports) but after collecting an initial technical foul, it was folly to continue the argument and with the referees' patience rapidly exhausted, Brown was on his way with a disqualification. Just as injurious to Solent's cause was the fouling out of Mark Scott, for this allowed the Calderdale team to move in on the Solent basket for simple close shots. With other players also on four fouls, Solent's defence was in tatters and they eventually lost 104 - 114 (Brown 34, Smith 33).
To complete a miserable week, Solent then travelled to unbeaten league leaders Kingston, on Sunday, and crashed to their biggest defeat of the season when they lost 88 - 111. Their defeat was almost inevitable when Johnny Brown failed to arrive for the game. Sent off in the last minute of the Calderdale game, he had not appeared at a training session the next day and no contact had been possible with him.
No contact had been made with Johnny Brown by the time Solent travelled north to Sunderland on the following Wednesday. Solent's limited squad lost the game 98 - 105. This was Solent's sixth defeat in eight games.
Coach Mark Saiers had now lost three successive games and seen American Johnny Brown go absent without leave. He was also facing a crippling injury crisis. Solent's next opponents at Fleming Park were Oldham - a team languishing at the bottom of the league. Despite having to send out a team that had only three fit players (Smith, Sewell, Burns) Solent were able to beat their lacklustre opponents (124 - 103). Mark Scott missed the game through an eye injury sustained at training on the night before the game and David Brown was playing with a pulled hamstring injury. So it was that coach Mark Saiers donned his kit for the game, despite an arthritic knee injury that had ended his playing career several years before. His problem was not contained to his knee when, in the same training session as the Scott injury, Saiers went into a back spasm which took several hours of physiotherapy treatment into the night to relieve. After leading 59 - 54 at the interval, Solent stormed away to win by 21 points.
Some relief for Solent's depleted squad was gained when Bolton and Bury called off their mid-week game with Solent because of financial difficulties.
It appeared that Johnny Brown had walked out on the club, never to return. No apparent reason was given and the coach commented, "The club did not fail to meet any of its commitments to him, but he did not meet all of his to us." With Saiers unable to play regularly because of his back and knee problems it was imperative to find a replacement for Brown, especially as the next game was away to Portsmouth. Solent had they had never beaten Portsmouth except in the 1984/85 season when John Deacon had bought Telford in the week that they were due to play Solent.
Never having been beaten by anything less than 11 points in their last five encounters, Solent put up a magnificent fight to only lose out in the end by three points (81 - 84). Indeed things might have been different had the last actions of the game gone Solent's way. It looked at first if they had favoured Solent when with just 24 seconds remaining and three points separating the teams, they took possession of the ball from the side-line after preventing Portsmouth shooting in the time allowed. However, Phil Smith in concentrating on dribbling to find a good three point attempt did not protect the ball well enough and Portsmouth's Karl Tatham stole the ball. This was rough justice on Smith, who had scored 39 points and attracted so much attention from the bigger Portsmouth squad that he had undergone three lengthy periods of treatment in the game. Indeed, after the third treatment he had left the game, but his replacement - Mark Scott - had almost immediately fouled out and so Smith had to hobble back on court for the rest of the game. Burns (16), Sewell (12) and Saiers (10) were Solent's other main scorers.
The final game before the Christmas break was a home game against Leicester. A stunning individual performance by Phil Smith in which he notched 43 points helped Solent to a 94 - 93 win. Not surprisingly it was Smith who settled the even encounter with a three point scoring shot just five seconds from time. Earlier Leicester had called a timeout - with 20 seconds remaining and the ball with Solent - to prevent such an occurrence. For fifteen seconds the plan seemed to have worked, but then Smith - who had been working furiously for an opening - turned his man and sent in a superb three point shot to seal the game. Leicester protested furiously that the timing mechanism peculiarities had cost them the game, but the officials would have nothing of it.
One heartening event for the future of Solent Stars was the success of the Under 17 team in a tournament in Geneva, Switzerland. The team finished in third place with three victories from four games. The only loss was to the Hungarian winners in the play off semi-final in what proved to be their only test in the tournament. Tom Craver coached the side, and future Solent Stars Jon Rumsey (75 points), Joe Morant (15) and Marc Barfoot (11) were part of the squad.
In Solent's first match of the New Year, Mark Saiers made what he hoped would be his final appearance as a player when Solent visited Crystal Palace. The home team were bottom of the league and could not deal with the twin scoring threat of Phil Smith and Drew Sewell. Indeed, Smith created a new scoring record for the club with his 53 points in the game as Solent cruised home 135 - 86, a winning margin of 49 points, leaving Mark Saiers with very little to do on court.
Mark Saiers had to play in the Crystal Palace match because the registration of the new American player, Abraham Okoradudu, had not been completed in time. Okoradudu was a 22-year-old graduate in computer sciences from the University of Pennsylvania who had been playing briefly in Holland. He was duly signed by the time of Solent's next home game, against Derby, but in the event he did not play in the game. This was because in the training session prior to the match he broke a bone in his left hand which required surgery and resetting. This was a dilemma for Solent because Mark Saiers had de-registered as a player because Solent had now used their quota of four foreign players in a season.
As it turned out, Solent took another step towards qualifying for the end of season play-offs with a solid, if unspectacular, win over Derby (107 - 86) at Fleming Park. Twenty six points ahead at halftime, once again thanks to the scoring of Smith and Sewell, Solent were able to give some of the younger players court time. Unfortunately they were not able to maintain the pressure on the Derby team and Solent's lead slipped to 15 points and coach Saiers was forced to re-introduce both Smith and Sewell. Right at the end of the game, Phil Smith was forced to limp back to the changing room after being tripped on court - an injury he would not have suffered had he not had to go back on court.
Meanwhile, Okoradudu had been told that his hand injury was not as serious as first thought, so he joined the team on its trip north to play Livingston in Edinburgh. The club booked a two-night stay to avoid excessive travel fatigue but the players did not respond with a suitable on-court performance. Solent were trailing 29 - 43 at halftime having only mustered 18 points in the first 16 minutes of the game. Phil Smith was able to make little impact on the game. He and Mark Scott were the only players who reached double figures in points and, Okoradudu, playing with a cast over his injured hand only scored six points. The final score of 62 - 99 was Solent's largest margin of defeat of the season so far, despite having earlier beaten Livingston at home.
The next game was at home in the new tournament - the Nat West League Cup - against Bracknell in a pool which also included Portsmouth. Still reeling from their disastrous away league result in Edinburgh, Solent were rocked further when another poor display saw them lose by 25 points (78 - 103). Only Phil Smith (who amassed 43 points) was exempt from criticism as Solent put up a pitiful display. Okoradudu was still playing with virtually one hand but making little impression. He came into the game after nine minutes and was taken off 90 seconds later after not touching the ball and committing two fouls. Meanwhile the score had gone from 23 each to 23 - 31 in Bracknell's favour. His efforts in the second half were not conspicuously more successful - though he did touch the ball - and having been on court for a total of five minutes, he fouled out having failed to score a point. Another Solent miscreant was David Brown. At the beginning of the second half, after a stern lecture by Mark Saiers during the interval, Brown attempted two ridiculously ambitious shots and was promptly hauled off by coach Saiers, not to appear on court again.
A controversial refereeing decision and some resolute defending enabled Solent to snatch an important league win at Fleming Park on the following Wednesday. Just 31 seconds remained when Phil Smith was adjudged to have been fouled deliberately by a Bolton player. Smith sank the two free throws to put Solent two points in the lead. As it was an intentional foul, Solent also got possession of the ball. All they had to do was to run down the 30 seconds allowed by keeping possession. Incredibly, however, Drew Sewell immediately threw the ball into touch to give Bolton the chance of mounting a final attack. This they did but amid frenetic activity under the Solent basket, Bolton failed to score from three attempted shots as Solent hung grimly on for their 86 - 84 win.
A third consecutive match at Fleming Park pitted Solent against Birmingham, close rivals for the lower play-off spots. It was a game Solent could ill-afford to lose. Birmingham close marked Phil Smith (although he was still able to score 43 points) and both sides matched basket for basket until four minutes before halftime. This period was to prove Solent's undoing since they allowed an 11-point gap to open up. This lead was never remotely threatened by the Solent squad as they sank to a 100 - 111 defeat. Okoradudu notched seven points although it was pointed out that he was still a long way from being effective.
Phil Smith had been an ever-present in the Draper Tools Solent team but that was to end when Solent's training-injury jinx struck again and Smith received a scratch on his eye that smashed his contact lens on the eve of the game against Manchester United. Drew Sewell responded to Smith's absence by scoring 30 points and Mark Scott (19), Nic Burns (14) and Abraham Okoradudu (13) helped swell the Solent score to 87 points. This was never going to be enough against the high-flying visitors whose big men stormed the Solent basket almost at will. Solent needed to control the boards and not give the ball away. They made a brave effort at the former, although Okoradudu was guilty of too many needless fouls, but 15 turnovers in the first half alone really put the game beyond Solent's reach (87 - 104).
Yet another home game followed, this time a Nat West League Cup pool game against Portsmouth. The first half was a fiery affair with first Phil Smith (with Portsmouth's Mark Glass) and then Mark Scott (with Colin Irish) coming close to exchanging something other than pleasantries. Although Portsmouth held the upper hand, the home crowd became excited as Solent levelled the scores just after halftime. However, that proved a false dawn as they were eventually outscored 39 - 65 as they capitulated to a Portsmouth team where five players got into double figures, led by Alan Cunningham with 20. Phil Smith was the game's high scorer with 36 points as Solent crashed 75 - 103.
Without an away win in the league since November, Solent's trip to Hemel needed to turn that statistic around if they were to qualify for the play-offs. After a performance where five of the Solent players emulated that of the Portsmouth squad in the previous game and reached double figures, Solent won 110 - 92. A storming start that saw them 41 - 16 ahead as halftime approached was enough to set up a sound base for the second half. The win owed much to coach Mark Saiers' man-to-man tactics that he adopted to counter the Hemel danger men and he was quick to praise each of his players who had stuck to their tasks throughout.
With Solent still requiring one win to qualify for the play-offs, confidence was high four days after the Hemel performance when Solent once again faced Bracknell at Fleming Park. A large crowd came to urge Solent on, but the team was unable to respond. Drew Sewell's opening basket of the game was the only time Solent were ahead and by halftime they trailed 31 - 54. Phil Smith had even substituted himself shortly before the interval to give an indication of what he thought of Solent's performance so far. Although Solent rallied in the second half - and Phil Smith took full part in that - the 23-point halftime deficit was always going to be difficult to overcome. Solent got to within 13 points with two minutes remaining and a couple of three pointers could have pressured Bracknell. However, none was forthcoming and Bracknell held on for the win (87 - 106).
An away game at next-to-bottom Oldham provided Solent with the one win needed (thanks to Birmingham losing to Bracknell) to reach the play-offs for the first time in three seasons. Mark Scott with 30 points was Solent's top-scorer in the game with Phil Smith on 29 in Solent's 101 - 81 win.
The final league game was home to Kingston, runners-up in the league that Portsmouth had now won for the second successive year. With a play-off place assured Solent at least did not have to win the game. Without Steve Bontrager's 48 points, Kingston would have been struggling to defy a Solent display that contained both power and purpose. Solent kept the Kingston big men at bay and Okoradudu had a particularly good game scoring 21 points and taking many rebounds. Seventeen behind with three minutes remaining, Solent had pulled back to just eight when Phil Smith was not able to score a three pointer after stealing the ball. Solent lost 107 - 117 but gained a healthy respect from the Kingston team and travelling fans.
The final - and meaningless for Solent - Nat West League Cup game was at Portsmouth just four days before the Championship Play-Off (best of three) games began against the same opponents. Portsmouth dominated throughout playing power basketball and Solent lost 95 - 134 having been 37 - 58 down at halftime. The predicted second half rout had not taken place, but Solent could not look forward to the first of the play-off games at the Mountbatten Centre.
Those who predicted that Solent's season would end at the quarter-final stage of the Championship Play-Offs found plenty of evidence to support their pessimism on the first Sunday of the tie with Portsmouth. The home team collected 21 more rebounds that the Solent team in the first half alone. Nic Burns - angered by a series of what he considered unjust foul calls on him - and Mark Scott played as well as they could, but they needed support from Solent's other big man, Abraham Okoradudu. It was not forthcoming as Okoradudu failed to make any impact on the game. Sewell had shot Solent into an early lead when he scored a three pointer, but of the next 27 points, 21 were scored by Portsmouth. Solent did contain Portsmouth much better in the second half but could not avoid defeat (86 - 115).
Inevitably, Solent lost any interest in the Championship Play-Offs when three days later they hosted Portsmouth at Fleming Park, having just lost to them by 29 points. This time the result was closer. The first half ended with Solent just seven points adrift at 48 - 55. With just a quarter of the game remaining, Solent were only 11 points down, but then eleven consecutive points from Portsmouth ended Solent's hopes. Alan Cunningham had scored 30 points and when he and Mike Spaid left the game with minutes remaining, Solent were able to add 21 of the last 29 scored to finish 103 - 113. Once again, Phil Smith, Solent's Player of the Year, was top scorer with 31 points to continue his proud record of top-scoring in every game after the departure of fellow American Johnny Brown.
Phil Smith was voted best guard in the Carlsberg League and third best player in the league for the season 1987/88.
|10||Bolton and Bury||28||12||16||2460||2485||-25||24|
|11||Hemel and Watford||28||9||19||2647||2893||-246||18|
No review of Solent's season would be complete without acknowledgement of the achievement of the Solent Under 17 squad in the International Easter Festival held at Fleming Park. Teams from Denmark, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and the USA joined with seven English teams in the established tournament. Solent were coached by Tom Craver and four wins in their Pool matches brought them up against the Birmingham Bullets Under 17 team. Few gave Solent much of a chance, but the home team led from the start and captain Jon Rumsey's 29 points were seminal in keeping Solent ahead to lift the trophy with an 88 - 81 win.