New players joining the squad were Jamie Weavill, Paul Etherington and Richard Bell. Weavill, a six-foot guard/forward, had signed from Chiltern although he had been on the list of some other second and third division sides. A good shooter of the ball, he would hopefully provide cover for the loss of Colgan's contributions. At 6' 6", Paul Etherington would hopefully improve Solent's defensive rebounding. He played for Stevenage in the third division during the previous season. Richard Bell from Basingstoke had no previous National League experience but coach Byrne saw a potential that earned him a place in Solent's all-British squad.
Off court, Solent were indebted to the continued interest shown in the club by its chairman, Trevor Nichols, especially since his work had now taken him abroad. Marie Comer continued to act as club treasurer and bookkeeper whilst the firm of Tonrin bore the brunt of the commercial sponsorship for the third season.
Solent started the season with a home game against Lewisham Lightning, a team that had finished in the lower part of the league the previous season but, like Solent, had won Division Three the year before that. The Stars got off to a confident start but then ran into foul trouble in the first half which gave Lewisham frequent visits to the free throw line which allowed the visitors to briefly take the lead (27 - 29) toward the end of the first half. Two late baskets from Jamie Weavill restored Solent's lead by the interval. Craig Metcalf was given an extended run in the second half and it was his spectacular dunk that seemed to spur Solent on as they took control of the game to win 77 - 57 (Rumsey 20 points).
In the second league match, away to Barnsley Generals, Solent Stars posted one of their lowest scores ever - but still won the game (49 - 48). It was a year ago that a similar score had been recorded by Solent. On that occasion they had lost to Crystal Palace by one point. This time the victory came at the end of a bizarre evening's events. After arriving without Jon Rumsey (ill) and Paul Etherington (business) Solent found that they had to help prepare the arena before the match could commence. There was no electronic scoreboard, little equipment for the table officials and even the match ball was missing and eventually had to be supplied by Solent. Craig Metcalf then sustained a badly bruised ankle in the opening minutes which kept him out of the remainder of the match. It was left to Nic Burns to muster the defence which he did well with Marc Barfoot putting in a creditable performance also. The result was to restrict Barnsley to only 22 first half points. Barnsley's defence proved equally adept with the result that Solent could only muster 22 points of their own in this time. Things did not improve much in the second half although an eight-point burst from Martin Dowdall helped Solent to a lead that they then held on to. With just 13 seconds remaining a Marc Barfoot basket gave Solent a four-point lead which Barnsley reduced with the last shot of the game. Barfoot was also Solent's leading scorer with 12 points.
It was the same player that was to repeat his last ditch effort in the following match at home to Cardiff. Prior to that Solent had run into injury trouble with Rumsey, Metcalf and Etherington still out, the squad suffered further in the game as Nic Burns suffered a bad back and Paul Philp took a heavy fall. Barfoot himself was not feeling well because of a virus problem. Even so, Solent established a comfortable 34 - 27 halftime lead thanks mainly to Jamie Weavill's 22 points. Cardiff's Chris Harper reduced the Solent lead to five points (65 - 60) with less than two minutes remaining and when Martin Dowdall then turned over the ball, Cardiff scored two more points. Solent failed to score on their next possession and Darryl Gens scored for Cardiff. Amidst tremendous excitement, Solent went looking for the basket that would secure the match. As they did so Jamie Weavill promptly conceded possession to Cardiff's Jason Merchant whose run on basket was checked by Joe Morant at the expense of two free throws. One was scored to level the game at 65 all. Again Solent sought the decisive strike knowing that any further mistakes would probably cost them the match. Under sustained pressure from the Cardiff defence, Solent patiently worked the ball around until, with three seconds remaining, Joe Morant spotted Marc Barfoot, who had eluded his marker, under the basket. As in the previous game at Barnsley, Barfoot made no mistake with his close range shot to give Solent a 67 - 65 win. This was Solent's 20th win in matches in 1992 in which time they went from the third division to the top of the second division.
A free week followed before Solent were pitted against the same opponents for the second round match in the National Trophy also to be played at Fleming Park.
What a difference two weeks makes in basketball must have been the observations of all who saw the consecutive home games at Fleming Park as Solent Stars slumped to a rare and unusually heavy defeat (63 - 94) at the hands of Cardiff. It was the worst result since October 1989 when Kingston cleaned up 130 - 76. The number of points conceded was the worst for two years whilst Solent's total of 63 points was their lowest recorded at home for more than six years. Solent made a typically slow start which enabled Cardiff to lead 2 - 14 in the early stages. The only time Solent threatened to stage a recovery was midway through the first half following the introduction of Jon Rumsey. Although not fully recovered from illness he plundered a number of scores as Solent reduced the gap to 22 - 28. But by halftime Cardiff had re-established a 13-point lead and were well on their way to the next round of the competition. Cardiff finally went clear when Solent could only muster eight points in a ten minute spell in the second half. Most of the damage was done by Chris Harper who scored 29 points.
Solent Stars then surrendered their unbeaten league record the following week when they lost at home to Brixton (81 - 94). It was a flurry of three points scores just after halftime that proved Solent's undoing. Prior to that Solent had held a slender 49 - 44 interval lead. This was Solent's highest score of the season but it proved insufficient on the night where Solent's fire-power was restricted by injuries to Nic Burns, Marc Barfoot and Paul Etherington. Added to this, Joe Morant could not participate in the second half because of illness. Coach Byrne commented, "We are now finding out how hard the second division can be."
Solent Stars rediscovered some winning form when on the following weekend another home game pitted them against Lewisham Lightning in the first round of the National Cup. Lewisham were still without a win in the season after their opening game against Solent. Perhaps it was not surprising, given the reverses against Cardiff and Brixton, that Solent sought hard to regain some confidence. Solent even went 20 points clear in the second half before a late Lewisham revival ensued, in part because of a late Solent collapse that almost lost them the game. Craig Metcalf was given a starting five spot following his impressive performance in the Brixton game. Jamie Weavill, Jon Rumsey and otherwise out-of-form Martin Dowdall all sank early three pointers as Solent established their lead. With less than ten minutes remaining the result did not seem in doubt as Solent led 67 - 47. Solent still held a 12-point lead with three minutes remaining, but even this nearly vanished as Lewisham cashed in on a spate of free throws arising from the number of fouls called in the game. Both Dowdall and Rumsey fouled out of the game as Solent clung onto their narrow lead. Andy Rowlands scored two free throws to give Solent a slight breathing space when the score was 75 - 70 in Solent's favour. Lewisham were unable to cash in on a couple of Solent's further mistakes and more scores from Rowlands and Paul Philp saw Solent home 81 - 70. Jamie Weavill was named man-of-the-match for his 22 points.
Coach Mick Byrne was also the England Senior Men's Basketball manager. Because of his European championship duties, Solent were then without a match for a three week period. During this time most of the younger members of the squad went to Eastbourne to take part in a physical performance research project. This was a mixed blessing as Martin Dowdall twisted an ankle in the programme that put him out of the forthcoming National Cup game. Solent also drafted in ex-coach Mark Saiers to run the training sessions and had serious talks to persuade Russ Taylor - a member of the squad when Solent were in the first division - to re-sign for the club.
Ware Rebels were Solent's visitors for the second round of the National Cup. Although they had not made a good start to the league season, recent results had gone their way and they came full of confidence. Solent's lack of match action showed as they struggled to find any rhythm in their play. Solent had been in arrears from early in the match and only recovered from this when Paul Philp and the newly-signed Russ Taylor began to gain and control some possession. Three point shots from Jamie Weavill and Jon Rumsey enabled Solent to level at 21 all. That should have provided Solent with a platform on which to build. Instead it all collapsed under them as a series of ill-conceived shots saw Solent only collect four points in the next six minutes. Solent were unable to pull themselves back into the game and Ware became the first team to win a National Cup game at Fleming Park in six seasons as they took the game 63 - 83. Prior to the game the students from Southampton University had handed a £200 cheque over to the club as proceeds of a number of events held to support the club and organised by Solent helper, Bob Beggs.
Injuries to Russ Taylor (knee) and Martin Dowdall kept them out of the next match which was against second in the table Middlesbrough. Solent quickly fell 11 points behind but unlike latter performances they managed to demonstrate a sense of purpose and zest noticeably lacking in recent games. Successive three point scores from Jamie Weavill and Joe Morant sparked Solent into life and when Joe Morant scored after a dazzling dribble through the defence, Solent were within one point (34 - 35). Middlesbrough extended their lead to 36 - 41 by halftime but Solent were playing with a lot more confidence and a Jamie Weavill three pointer took Solent into the lead at 61 - 60. Still ahead at 71 - 70, Solent suffered a body blow when Steve Race scored with a huge three pointer to take the lead from them. In a frantic final minute, Tony Hanson added two more points for the visitors and Nic Burns and Joe Morant were both charged with intentional fouls as they fought to get the ball. Jamie Weavill scored another three pointer with ten seconds remaining to take the score to 74 - 77. Solent even managed to get the ball again from another steal but Joe Morant's attempted three pointer to level the game fell short of the ring.
Doncaster, the unbeaten league leaders, were the next visitors to Fleming Park. This match was to provide one of basketball's more bizarre endings. This was not evident at the start of the game that had Solent parading their new signing, a Colombian named Jimmy Palmer who owned a local health club. He had been training with the squad for a few weeks but it had taken time for his international clearance papers to arrive. The former Colombian international scored 12 points in the game, the majority in the latter stages of the first half as Doncaster built up an interval lead (36 - 46). Helped by several three pointers from Martin Dowdall (six in the match) Solent narrowed the Doncaster lead to just one point at 60 - 61. The league leaders then set about the task of preserving their unbeaten record and clinically went ahead to lead by 16 points with just 14 seconds remaining on the clock. The next 14 seconds provided unexpected entertainment for the crowd and a closer than expected finish for the game. David Ogilvie described it for the Eastleigh Weekly News:
"Solent Stars just failed to spoil the unbeaten record of Doncaster in an extraordinary finish to Saturday's match at Fleming Park. Trailing by 16 points with just 14 seconds left on the clock, Solent nearly made Doncaster suffer for an appalling lack of discipline that saw visiting coach Curtis Xavier sent off for foul and abusive language. The volatile Xavier had already been the handsome winner of the kicking the chair as far as possible competition when he all but dragged his side down with him after sustaining the kind of verbal assault that even the most tolerant of referee would have been loathe to ignore. The incident that sparked such unbelievable fury followed a Martin Dowdall three point shot that was awarded because of 'interference' by Kevin Penny. Solent were awarded the three points to take the score to 79 - 92 with 14 seconds remaining. Hardly the kind of incident that was likely to affect the outcome of the game, you would think. Clearly it was so far as Doncaster were concerned for Penny, recently sent off himself against Brixton, immediately rushed after the referee who immediately punished him with a technical foul. Xavier then joined in with an arm waving burst of abuse that until then had been reserved for his own team when they failed to heed his playing instructions. Two warnings followed before he was sent to the changing room still protesting his ill-founded innocence. From all the mayhem Solent were awarded six free shots and possession. Martin Dowdall scored from five of the shots and Craig Metcalf from the subsequent possession to make the score 86 - 92. Nic Burns was then fouled as he tried to regain possession. He scored with both attempts with four seconds remaining. Solent even regained possession in that time, but were unable to add to their total finally losing 88 - 92."
More drama ensued after the game when coach Mick Byrne, unhappy at the apparent disharmony in his team - especially after his announcement of Joe Morant and Martin Dowdall as club co-captains - said that he was ready to resign his role. Directors David Varcoe-Baylis and Jim Rumsey called a meeting with him that was also attended by senior players Nic Burns and Paul Philp and persuaded him to continue. This decision was ratified by a subsequent meeting with the players.
The final game of the year was Solent's only second away match of the season. The opponents were Coventry Crusaders and the match was carried live by cable television. The Coventry club had invited a brass band to play Christmas carols at suitable intervals. The band was placed closely alongside the Solent bench which made team talks almost impossible. The result was that Solent slumped to their fourth league defeat (59 - 80). With only Russ Taylor missing, Solent were unable to find any combination that might trouble the home team. Jon Rumsey turned in another useful display to confirm his return to form and but for his presence in front of basket Solent would have been even further adrift in what was a lacklustre performance. Apart from his 20-point return, only Jamie Weavill offered any kind of threat to the Coventry defence. With five minutes remaining Solent had closed the score to 48 - 60, but it was Coventry that finished the stronger team.
The Christmas break brought no joy for Solent who were only able to practise on a few occasions. Added to that Jimmy Palmer, had not returned from Colombia and Russ Taylor was still injured for the home match against Bury in early January. Despite enjoying a nine point lead early in the second half, Solent never looked in control of the game. Nic Burns was particularly effective as Solent had a purple patch just after the break to put them 46 - 37 ahead. Instead of capitalising on that, Solent took just three minutes to surrender the lead as Bury scored twelve points without reply. Bury's Larry Spencer scored seven three pointers in his 25 points despite sitting out most of the first half when he collected three quick fouls, including a technical foul. Solent lost the game 73 - 80 to make it three months without a win in the league.
Near rivals Plymouth Raiders were Solent's next opponents as they travelled to the West Country without Nic Burns and Russ Taylor. Solent did however include a new signing, Drew Sewell. Although far from match fit, Sewell was coach Byrne's attempt to inject some point scoring into the Solent machine. Solent made most of the running in the game until the closing stages. It was five minutes before Plymouth were able to register their first basket as Solent played a tight defence. With Rumsey (24 points) again putting in a powerful attacking performance Solent enjoyed a 35 - 31 lead. But Plymouth edged ahead in the second half and the deciding moment came when Weavill attempted a hopeful three point shot with Solent trailing by seven points. The shot missed and Plymouth went straight down the other end and scored a three pointer of their own to take the score to 60 - 70. There was to be no late rally from Solent who lost the game 71 - 84. This put Solent in tenth place in the league as Plymouth climbed above them with this win.
Russ Taylor returned for the match at Crystal Palace on a Thursday night. Crystal Palace were a much changed team from that of the season before with the arrival of Americans Russ Saunders and Renaldo Lawrence. By halftime Crystal Palace had a commanding lead and Solent trailed 29 - 47. Russ Taylor alone enjoyed his comeback as he scored 21 points but Solent eventually succumbed 73 - 96.
Two days later Solent were back in south London again, this time to play Lewisham Lightning, a team still without a league win. Solent had difficulty in finding the Lewisham court and only the then comparative luxury of a Jimmy Palmer mobile phone allowed directions to be sought whilst parked in front of Lewisham Hospital. Once there it was to prove an atmosphere-less place with less than 20 spectators. As at Crystal Palace Nic Burns was missing as he contemplated his future in the game. In a game that consisted of 51 fouls, Solent found they were unable to impose any control on the game. The decisive moments came with the score tied at 32 all just two minutes from halftime. Lewisham then scored 10 points without reply and this proved to be the deciding factor. Despite a late three pointer from Paul Philp that gave them hope, Solent fell away to a 70 - 77 defeat by the bottom team in the league. Only Drew Sewell (22) scored with any regularity.
The famous Solent support was in evidence again as Solent returned home for a match against the other basement dweller, Barnsley Generals. So many came to support Solent that the game start time had to be delayed to get everyone in. Nic Burns had apparently retired and was not playing but otherwise Solent were at full strength as coach Byrne started with Drew Sewell, Jimmy Palmer, Paul Philp, Russ Taylor and Jon Rumsey. Palmer gave Solent a perfect three-point start and by halftime Solent led by ten points. This was increased to 18 points early in the second half as Sewell, Palmer and Philp all scored. Taylor provided Solent with rebounding control at either end and his reliable distribution set up numerous attacking opportunities as Solent cruised to their first league double of the season 89 - 72 (Sewell 33).
Solent were forced to take stock of their playing situation prior to the visit of Ware Rebels to Fleming Park. Nic Burns had announced his retirement, Marc Barfoot was injured, Russ Taylor had work commitments and Jamie Weavill missed the game because of problems in attending training sessions from his London home. This left Craig Metcalf and Paul Etherington as Solent's main rebounders. Although they tried manfully enough they had no answer to Ware's formidable physical presence, which gave the visitors generous possession. Despite this, Solent only trailed 45 - 51 at halftime. There were still only eleven points separating the teams with five minutes to play when Jimmy Palmer's comments to the referees gave Ware the chance to add to this difference. The ill-tempered match ended with Martin Dowdall being given an intentional foul along with a Ware player as they tussled for the ball. Ware's Jon Burnell decided to join in the dispute as well and was disqualified when he threw the ball in Dowdall's face. Sewell with 25 points was Solent's leading scorer in their 74 - 86 defeat.
Relegation fears were raised again when Barnsley scored an unexpected win over Plymouth as Solent travelled to play at Brixton Topcats. Coach Byrne was presiding over a team that was falling apart as Nic Burns' departure was now enjoined by that of Jamie Weavill who had decided that the travel involved from London was too much to take. For the Brixton game, Byrne was also without Russ Taylor and Drew Sewell. Little surprise then that Solent were unable to match their hosts in the first half scoring and went in trailing 26 - 37 despite an evenly matched opening fifteen minutes. Jon Rumsey provided another determined display but as leading scorer with only 12 points, Solent's problem in finding the basket was only too evident as they lost the game 50 - 81, their heaviest league defeat of the season.
The next visitors to Fleming Park were high riding Crystal Palace. They were without injured Russ Saunders and Solent were desperate to take advantage of that. However, a wretched first half performance saw them trailing by 17 points at halftime. So it came as a welcome surprise to the home fans that after halftime Solent Stars, with apparently nothing more to play for than respectability, completely turned the game around and nearly snatched a famous victory. But for the continued excellence of Jon Rumsey and the sharpness of Drew Sewell, Solent could have been even further adrift as Crystal Palace rattled up 55 first half points against an almost non-existent rearguard although Solent were hampered by the absence of Russ Taylor. Three successive scores at the start of the second half by Rumsey and Sewell gave Solent early encouragement that they might be able to retrieve matters and this they steadily did. The lead was steadily reeled in and two successive three pointers by Jimmy Palmer made the score 72 - 76 and Solent sensed that the game was on. With another large crowd urging them on, Solent closed to two points as Sewell punctured the Crystal Palace defence. A puzzling technical foul against Joe Morant slowed the impetus as Crystal Palace scored five points from the offence. As long range shots from Palmer and Paul Philp missed their target, Solent's chances seem to have gone as Crystal Palace went 74 - 85 clear. Martin Dowdall responded with a three pointer and with Rumsey and Philp adding points from the free throw line, Solent again moved to within two points (83 - 85). In the last two minutes Marc Barfoot scored with a hook shot to keep Solent just two points behind, but his next similar attempt came off the ring and into a Crystal Palace pair of hands. The moment was gone and Solent lost 88 - 95. Solent were still uncomfortably in the relegation zone, yet their three home matches against the top teams had resulted in just three, four and seven point defeats only. Indeed, five of Solent's eleven losses had been by seven points or less.
A visit to runaway league leaders Doncaster was not what Solent wanted as they battled for Division Two survival. Doncaster demonstrated why they were such a powerful force by crushing the Solent challenge 60 - 108. With both Jon Rumsey (ill) and Drew Sewell (awaiting an operation) missing, Solent were always going to be stretched in this game, and so it proved. Luckily for Solent both Lewisham and Barnsley, the two teams below them, were beaten on their home courts in the same weekend. With 22 matches in all to be played, the foot of the league table in mid-March was:
Both the bottom teams lost their matches during the following weekend, so it required Solent Stars to win just one more game to survive in Division Two. Solent's next match was at home to sixth-place Coventry Crusaders. The team was heartened by the fact that Drew Sewell's operation had been postponed and he was available for the game. Not such good news was the axing of Russ Taylor for failing to appear at training sessions. With Solent having only won one of their last 14 league games, they had to rely on their confidence in recent home fixtures to carry them through. This confidence was not misplaced as Solent opened brightly with good shooting from Drew Sewell to keep the lead in the first half until four successive three pointers from Coventry gave them a slender lead (36 - 37) just one minute from halftime. Drew Sewell responded with two three pointers and another from Jimmy Palmer, plus a free throw, saw Solent go in leading 46 - 37. Whilst Sewell's accuracy and range inevitably attracted the attention, there were other significant features to emerge from the match as well. Not the least of these was the contribution made by Joe Morant and Martin Dowdall who played virtually the entire forty minutes. Morant kept Dip Donaldson so quiet that he emerged with a mere 16 points, whilst Dowdall included in his total successive scores when Coventry were pressing hard to overturn Solent's advantage. Solent's win, 80 - 73 (Sewell 36) ensured survival at the end of their first season in Division Two.
The following day Solent travelled to play Ware Rebels and were beaten 74 - 89 in a game where Jimmy Palmer was disqualified for fighting.
This was followed by a mid-week match at Bridgend to play Cardiff who were using the venue having been given an opportunity to appear on Welsh TV. Although Solent did Cardiff a huge favour in accepting this mid-week fixture, Cardiff were in no mood for any reciprocal action and powered to a 67 - 101 win (Sewell 32).
It was six months since Solent had won an away league game, against Barnsley, as they travelled north to play Bury. Without Jimmy Palmer, Drew Sewell, Marc Barfoot and Craig Metcalf (out for the rest of the season after picking up an injury in the Crystal Palace game) Solent were stretched for playing resources. Since last playing against Bury they had acquired the services of Alan Bannister who had returned from America. At 7' 5" he was a barrier in defence that Solent found hard to overcome, although a brave defensive game by Paul Etherington meant that Bannister did not pose an undue threat on the scoring front. Trailing 31 - 48 just before the interval, Solent seemed off the pace until a late rally inspired by Jon Rumsey drew them to within five points at the interval. Bury again enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges in the second half but persistent scoring by Rumsey and Martin Dowdall kept Solent in touch. Three times Solent came to within two points but when Joe Morant fouled out just before the end, Solent had to accept defeat, losing 87 - 94 (Dowdall 29, Rumsey 26).
Although the next home game was the last of the season for both teams and neither would profit in league table position from a win, the game itself, against Plymouth saw over 50 fouls called as both teams fought hard to gain the ascendancy. Solent could not contain Plymouth's two American players, who between them scored 79 of the visitors' points. Solent trailed for most of the game and with 24 seconds remaining were still 93 - 99 in arrears. It took a three pointer by Paul Philp to level the scores with one second remaining with a shot taken from just over the half way line. Overtime was a continuation of the main game with Solent missing from the free throw line as Plymouth pulled away to leave Solent trailing at the end 108 - 113 (Sewell 38, Rumsey 23).
After the game the Solent awards were distributed. Joe Morant was voted Player of the Year with Martin Dowdall in second place. The first winner of the newly instituted Players' Player Award was Jon Rumsey.
Solent Stars finished in tenth place in the league having won five league matches. Significantly, eight of those games had been lost by seven points or less.
Drew Sewell shakes hands with the Mayor as Craig Metcalf and Coach Mick Byrne look on
The final game of the season was the Eastleigh Mayor's Charity game and saw Jason Colgan make a guest appearance for Solent against Worthing Bears who were preparing for the forthcoming Championship Play-Offs at Wembley. In a low-key game Worthing were the winners (106 - 116) with Colin Irish scoring 35 points for them whilst Colgan top-scored for Solent with 25 points.
Solent points scorers for the season:Jon Rumsey 347, Martin Dowdall 283, Drew Sewell 254, Jamie Weavill 206, Nic Burns 123, Joe Morant 119, Paul Philp 101, Craig Metcalf 91, Paul Etherington 83, Marc Barfoot 83, Jimmy Palmer 72, Russ Taylor 40, Andy Rowlands 17, Richard Lawrence 14, Lee Dennis 8, Mark Jackson 4, Richard Bell 4, Mike Kessner 2