Solent Stars 2006/07 Season - Results and Match Reports


Venue Opponents Score (Solent First) Type Win / Loss League

Sep 23 2006 Away UH West Herts Warriors 84-92 Trophy L - Report
Oct 14 2006 Away UH West Herts Warriors 97-104 League L 0-1 Report
Oct 21 2006 Away Cardiff Celts 101-107 Cup L - Report
Oct 28 2006 Away London Leopards 78-92 League L 0-2 Report
Nov 4 2006 Away Sheffield Arrows 73-109 League L 0-3 Report
Nov 5 2006 Away PAWS London Capitals 58-82 League L 0-4 Report
Nov 11 2006 Home Tees Valley Mohawks 73-66 League W 1-4 Report
Nov 18 2006 Away Coventry Crusaders 96-101 League L 1-5 Report
Nov 25 2006 Home Worthing Thunder 85-112 League L 1-6 Report
Dec 3 2006 Away Reading Rockets 76-111 League L 1-7 Report
Dec 09 2006 Home Manchester Magic 78-126 Trophy L - Report
Dec 16 2006 Away King's Lynn Fury 99-112 League L 1-8 Report
Jan 06 2007 Away Worthing Thunder 95-106 Trophy L - Report
Jan 13 2007 Home Coventry Crusaders 87-60 Trophy W - Report
Jan 21 2007 Home UH West Herts Warriors 60-75 League L 1-9 Report
Jan 27 2007 Away Manchester Magic 80-106 League L 1-10 Report
Feb 4 2007 Home London Leopards 89-87 League W 2-10 Report
Feb 10 2007 Home Sheffield Arrows 112-107 League W 3-10 Report
Feb 11 2007 Home Northampton Neptunes 98-90 League W 4-10 Report
Feb 18 2007 Home PAWS London Capitals 75-113 League L 4-11 Report
Feb 24 2007 Away Tees Valley Mohawks 87-80 League W 5-11 Report
Feb 25 2007 Home Coventry Crusaders 87-90 League L 5-12 Report
Mar 4 2007 Home Manchester Magic 85-96 League L 5-13 Report
Mar 10 2007 Home Reading Rockets 65-88 League L 5-14 Report
Mar 17 2007 Home King's Lynn Fury 118-111 League W 6-14 Report
Mar 18 2007 Away Northampton Neptunes 100-94 League W 7-14 Report
Mar 25 2007 Away Worthing Thunder 108-129 League L 7-15 Report
Mar 31 2007 Away Worthing Thunder 102-115 Play-offs L - Report

23 September 2006

SOLENT STARS 84 (20,41,63)

Solent Stars began their season with a narrow defeat in a thrilling encounter with the UH West Herts Warriors at Hatfield on Saturday, but in Earl Moore, their latest American import, they appear to have unearthed a talent who could help to bring back some glory days for the Stars. Moore scored 44 of his team’s points, which included eight 3 pointers, but complimented his team mates afterwards by saying, “The good thing about the team tonight was we never gave up”.

With American coach, Kerry Kirby, having been delayed entering the country until last Wednesday, the Stars had had to rely on veteran coach Mick Byrne to get together a team to compliment Moore and he promoted a number of his young players from the Stars second team that he had coached the previous season. However, the squad was very thin and appeared even worse when the home announcer forgot to introduce Ben Stanley and Earl Moore. West Herts, themselves missing a number of players, who were promoted from Division 2 last season, had assembled a squad with a definite height advantage over Solent.

This did not appear to daunt Solent, however, as Earl Moore opened the scoring with the first of 3 pointers and then went out into a 10 – 2 lead forcing Warriors coach Tony Harrison to call time out. The Warriors had been struggling to find their range when shooting but began to claw back the deficit and coach Kirby called his own time out, but the Stars could not stop the Warriors taking the lead 18 – 17 with a 3 pointer. Earl Moore responded with a long 3 but West Herts ended the quarter 2 points to the good. 22-20.

Moore took a rest at the start of the second quarter and West Herts extended their lead only for Ben Stanley to respond for the Stars. The game became a little scrappy with a number of turnovers from both sides but an Earl Moore 2 regained the lead 4 minutes into the quarter and they cemented the lead with two successive 3 pointers from Ryan Payne. After a timeout West Herts rallied and coach Kirby again called his own time out but Pierre Henry Fontaine missed the opportunity to level the scores and Moore ended the half as he had begun with a 3 pointer from “down town” to give Solent a five point lead at the half. The Stars traveling support were now on the edge of their seats bearing in mind the large half time deficits they endured often last season. 36-41.

The second half didn’t start well for Solent with Clayton Milner picking up his fourth foul. From the resulting free throws Stanley Burrison, who had had a good first half, scored one from two, but soon after Henry-Fontaine was fouled and also missed but managed to score from the rebound to level the score. He then scored a 3 pointer to give the Warriors the lead but Moore responded with a 3 of his own. The lead was changing hands regularly with Moore feeding Stanley to level and then scoring 3 to take the lead. This led to a Warriors time out and the quarter ended level. 63 -63.

Moore scored 2 to begin the final quarter but Henry-Fontaine responded. Ben Stanley picked up an ankle injury which brought Clayton Milner back into the game as things started to get more difficult for the Stars. Liam Wyatt, who assistant coach Mick Byrne said “played above his height all night”, fouled out with 5:50 to go and he was soon followed by Clayton Milner. Milner was victim of a 50-50 foul call as he, too, fouled out and allowed his frustration to boil over kicking the benches which earned the Stars a technical foul. Solent began to struggle around the basket and after a Warriors time out Joe Perera leveled the game with two minutes to go. Tom Frederick missed two free throws but Rob Bawden in his enthusiasm to get the ball fouled him again and he put the Warriors back in the lead with the resulting free throws. As the end of the game neared the Stars shooting became wayward, which allowed the Warriors to pull away and when Moore missed a long 3 pointer with 34 seconds remaining the result of a pulsating game was sealed. 92-84

Stars new coach Kerry Kirby was obviously disappointed with the result but pleased with the effort put in by his team and now has until 7th October, when the Stars will play a friendly at Fleming Park, to improve the squad.


West Herts Warriors: Stanley Burrison 28, Pierre Henry-Fontaine 27, Tom Frederick 13, Joe Perera 13, Mark Quashie 7, Matt Eames 2, Paul Robson 2.
Solent Stars: Earl Moore 44, Ben Stanley 16, Ryan Payne 15, Clayton Milner 6, Craig Teesdale 2, Liam Wyatt 1.

14 October 2006

SOLENT STARS 97 (19, 39, 61)
UH WEST HERTS WARRIORS 104 (26, 54, 82)

Solent Stars dug themselves a big hole in their first league match of the season against UH West Herts Warriors on Saturday but very nearly managed to climb out of it in the last quarter. Unfortunately, Coach Kerry Kirby’s men came up short by 7 points despite having been 20 points down at one point in the third quarter. Their day had not begun well with new signings Darren Mason and Kay Lawal unavailable and John Wilkins unfit to play through a virus, but the remaining Stars played out an exciting game against a strong and very tall West Herts outfit.

The Warriors seemed determined not to be caught out as the game began, in the same way as they had been three weeks before in the National Trophy game between the two teams. They raced into a 6-0 lead before Stars new Polish signing Sebastian Zwolak put the Stars on the board with 2 free throws after a foul. The Stars leveled the score at 8 - 8 but neither team were able to break that deadlock for several minutes. Eventually, Pierre Henry-Fontaine scored to give the Warriors the lead and took his personal total to 10 points after a turnover from Stars American Earl Moore causing Coach Kirby to call time out. However, West Herts began to control the game and the Stars struggled to contain them. 26 – 19

The Stars, with Earl Moore struggling with his form, were finding it hard to compete with the Warriors. Whilst they stemmed the flow of points from Henry-Fontaine, West Herts introduced new signing, Marlan Henry, who scored 16 points in the quarter. For the Stars Sebastian Zwolak was playing manfully with several points, assists, and rebounds but was also earning the distaste of the referees and picked up 3 fouls in the quarter. After a time out with 3.30 left in the half, the Stars consolidated but still went into the break 15 points down. 54 – 39

There was no hint of what was to come at the beginning of the second half either as Stanley Burrison got into a scoring vein for the Warriors. Indeed, things got worse for the Stars when Sebastian Zwolak picked up 2 quick fouls which fouled out of the game with 7.39 left in the quarter. Coach Kirby was infuriated with the referees berating them for what he described as “very weak fouls” called on Zwolak. With the Stars now 20 points down and in foul trouble the prospect looked bleak for the Stars traveling supporters. However, Rob Bawden came off the bench to score a three pointer which was quickly followed by another from Moore to give the Stars hope but the Warriors responded as the quarter ended. 82 – 61

Moore, who had scored 44 points three weeks previous against the Warriors, suddenly found his scoring touch and started the final quarter with 2 three pointers as the Stars began to claw back the deficit. When Ben Stanley scored a 2 to reduce the lead to 9 points, the Stars were on 15-5 run and Coach Tony Harrison for the Warriors called time out to try and stem the flow. The Stars defence caused a Warriors 24 second violation and Moore continued to impress as the Stars reduced the lead to 5. Henry-Fontaine found his touch again with 5 quick points but Moore responded with 5 of his own and when Mark Blackwood scored through the middle the lead was only 3 points with 2 minutes to go.

The final minutes of the game were frantic with the Warriors putting pressure on the Stars and when Moore missed a long three with 18 seconds the Stars were left to foul the Warriors to try and stop the clock. Earl Moore scored the last 2 points of the game to complete his personal total of 45, but in the end the Stars were unable to complete what would have been a remarkable comeback.104 - 97

Coach Kirby was proud of his players “We can all take a lot of confidence from our second half comeback and look forward positively to the coming away matches.” Next week the Stars travel to Cardiff to take on the Cardiff Celts in a National Cup 2nd Round match.

West Herts Warriors: Pierre Henry-Fontaine 31, Stanley Burrison 27, Malan Henry 23, Luke Patterson 11, Mark Quashie 8, Tom Frederick 4.
Solent Stars: Earl Moore 45, Clayton Milner 19, Rob Bawden 11, Sebastian Zwolak 8, Mark Blackwood 7, Ben Stanley 4, Liam Mitchell 3.

21 October 2006

SOLENT STARS 101 (14, 44, 64, 89)
CARDIFF CELTS 107 (22, 47, 72, 89)

* overtime

Solent Stars went out of the National Cup in overtime on Saturday in a thrilling encounter with the Cardiff Celts. The well-drilled and experienced Welsh outfit needed a three pointer on the buzzer to put the game into overtime but were not to be denied in the extra period as Solent's shooting deserted them at the crucial time.

The game began with a tip-off violation which gave the Stars the ball - but a series of turnovers meant the neither team was able to settle in the first few minutes. The Celts began to trouble the scorers with their fast break movement which allowed them to penetrate the Stars' defence almost at will. This caused Coach Kirby to call time out for the Stars and Sebastian Zwolak responded with a 3 pointer, but the Stars were not able to stem the flow of the Celts scoring. 22 -14

Clayton Milner scored 4 quick points in the second quarter to reduce the deficit for the Stars but then had to leave the court with a nose bleed. Ben Stanley then scored a three pointer to reduce the Celts lead to one point as the pace of the game quickened. When Earl Moore was fouled, his 2 free throws put Solent into the lead but they were unable to hold on to that lead as the Celts began to rain in the first of their 14 three pointers in the game. 47 - 44

The Celts still caused problems for the Stars in the third quarter but despite their openings they failed to capitalize and Solent were able to take the lead again. Earl Moore then took a knock in the face and the Celts took full advantage scoring 9 quick points in his absence to end the quarter with an eight point lead. 72 - 64

The Stars quickly reduced the deficit again in the fourth with an Earl Moore 3 and 2 points from Zwolak. Matthew Daw for the Celts, who had been playing with three fouls from early in the game, kept his side in it with two 3 pointers which brought Coach Kirby to his feet berating his own team for their lack of defence. Zwolak put the Stars up by one and 18 year old Rob Bawden came into the game to play some telling passes to Zwolak for two and to Moore who was fouled.

There was some confusion over whether time out had been called and the Celts bench was called for a technical foul by the referees for their complaints. Earl Moore scored one free throw and two points from the subsequent possession to put the Stars six points up inside the last minute and the game appeared to be up. However, the Celts began to foul to stop the clock and Bawden's inexperience showed when he twice missed free throws, the last of which after Daw had reduced the lead to 3 with 6 seconds to go. To the dismay of Solent's traveling support the Celts were allowed to pass the ball until Daw once again was open in the corner to knock down a remarkable 3 pointer to send the game into overtime. 89 -89

The overtime period was played without a 24 second clock due to an electrical failure and began badly for the Stars when Moore was called for a 3 second violation. The Celts took advantage with 3 three pointers, one from Daw and 2 from Nick Jones and never looked back. Moore did score a 3 pointer but when he missed a similar shot with a minute to go the game was lost for Solent. The final minute was littered with fouls and the Celts showed more composure to make theirs whilst the Stars struggled from the line. 107 - 101

Coach Kirby was distraught after the game but commented "We must learn to compete for the whole of the game and not dig ourselves into holes which we keep failing to get out off." Indeed, if the Stars are to win their first league match of the season next Saturday away to the London Leopards (Brentwood Leisure Centre, 7.30pm) they will need to compete for the whole game and not hope to come from behind.

Cardiff Celts: M.Daw 35, C. Horrocks 20, M. Gregory 17, N. Jones 12, N. Horrocks 11, D. Miles 9, T. Berry 2, E. Idowu 1.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 37, C. Milner 28, S. Zwolak 20, B. Stanley 8, and M. Blackwood 8.

28 October 2006

SOLENT STARS 78 (23, 46, 56)
LONDON LEOPARDS 92 (21, 41, 65)

Solent stars suffered a major blow before their match with the London Leopards on Saturday, when their influential American coach Kerry Kirby was confined to bed with a virus and tonsillitis, and was unable travel with the team. Veteran coach Mick Byrne, assisted by the injured Ryan Payne, stepped up to the plate and at half time in the game it looked like his team might pull off an unlikely win. However, a poor third quarter left them with too much to do to get back in the game and the Leopards ran out comfortable winners.

The game began well when Ben Stanley put the Stars into the lead with a three pointer but Errol Seaman got an easy rebound to retake the lead for the "Big Cats". Solent began to struggle with their shooting and turnovers, and Coach Byrne called time out to stem the flow. This failed to have the desired effect as the Leopards sped into a 14 -5 lead with 3 pointers from American Calvin Palmer and Sam Salter, but the Stars came back into the game and when Earl Moore scored after a steal to bring the lead back to three and Leopards coach Jon Burnell called a time out of his own. Again this didn't have the required effect as Moore put the Stars into the lead and John Wilkins followed up with his first points of the match. The quarter ended with the Stars missing an opportunity to extend their lead to 4 points. 21 - 23

Moore, Stanley, and Sebastian Zwolak extended the Stars lead to 9 points in the second quarter forcing Coach Burnell to call time out, but this time his change in tactics did produce results for the Leopards, as first Seaman and then David Ogilvie began to score freely inside. The Stars held their nerve but Moore missed a long three on the buzzer and their lead had been restricted to 5 points. The Stars main worry, however, was that Coach Byrne had not felt able to make any substitions in the first half. 41 - 46

The third quarter began well again for the Stars when Moore extended their lead and the Leopards' Calvin Palmer picked up his fourth foul of the game. Solent were unable to take advantage, however, as the Leopards picked up the momentum and scored freely with Slater and Ogilvie leading the way. Coach Byrne again called time out this time to berate his players for a number of unforced errors but a James Nicholson 3 pointer soon after increased the Leopards lead. Coach Byrne made his first substitution with 5.52 left in the quarter when Matt Godfrey came on to replace Clayton Milner who had picked up his third foul. 65 - 56

The final quarter was controlled by the Leopards who were able to maintain a comfortable lead despite the efforts of Moore and Zwolak. With 3 minutes to go a Solent time out was followed b a 3 pointer from Zwolak who was fouled by Roger Lloyd. Zwolak converted the free throw but the Stars were unable to reduce the lead as their shooting failed in the final minutes. When the Leopards called time out with 36 seconds to go despite leading by 12 points, Coach Byrne decided to give his bench players a chance to play out the game but they were unable to make any impression. 92 - 78

The Stars stay on the road again next week with a double header weekend against the Sheffield Arrows (EIS Sheffield Saturday 6.00pm) and Paws London Capitals (Capital City Academy Sunday 4.00pm) and Coach Kirby, who will hopefully be recovered by then, will be looking for the Stars to pick up their first away win of the season.

London Leopards: D. Ogilvie 29, S. Slater 18, C. Palmer 14, J. Nicholson 11, J. Ikhinwin 9, E. Seaman 8, R. Lloyd 3.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 26, S. Zwolak 21, J. Wilkins 12, C. Milner 12, and B. Stanley 7.

4 November 2006

SOLENT STARS 73 (26, 45, 54)
SHEFFIELD ARROWS 109 (27, 59, 79)

The Solent Stars were overrun by a powerhouse Sheffield Arrows at the EIS Saturday night despite making a good start to the game. However, with American Stars Earl Moore still suffering the effects of midweek flu and Clayton Milner not having been able to train during the week either, Coach Kerry Kirby was once again relying on his youngsters to step up their game.

The game began well for Solent with Sebastian Zwolak taking the ball to the basketball forcing his Polish counterpart Pawal Szafraniec to pick up two early fouls and leave the game. Indeed, Solent went into a 2 - 10 lead with baskets from Zwolak, John Wilkins and a 3 pointer from Liam Mitchell, who was starting a game for the first time at this level. The Arrows came back and reduced the arrears to 4 with 4 minutes left in the quarter and then a three pointer by Andre Rankine signaled the start of a 9 point unanswered run by the Arrows before Zwolak scored again. Coach Kirby called time out but in failed to have the desired effect as the Arrows took the lead soon after. Clayton Milner restored the Stars lead but the quarter ended with Rankine giving the Arrows a narrow one point advantage. 27 - 26

Arrows coach Pete Kelly called time out early in the second quarter and the Arrows responded, capitalizing on the mistakes in the Stars play to build up a lead. Coach Kirby also called time out but Sheffield continued to score freely on the fast break mainly through their American pairing of Chris McFarland and Clint Deas. Rob Bawden came into the game Solent to score 5 points and assist Earl Moore as the rest of the Stars struggled to find the basket. 59 - 45

Turnovers by the Arrows were a feature to the third quarter but the Stars were unable to take advantage as numerous opportunities were missed. Both teams struggled to score in the quarter but once again the Arrows had the edge. Earl Moore was called for an unsportsmanlike foul on McFarland with 3 minutes to go in the quarter but even then the Clint Deas was only able to convert one free throw and the Stars caused a turnover on the subsequent possession. However, Deas made amends soon after but stealing the ball and going straight to the basket for a slam dunk. 79 - 54

Earl Moore gave the Stars a ray of light early in the final quarter with 3 three point plays but the deficit was already too great. Stars Ben Stanley was unable to hold on to a Moore pass and then with four minutes to go was mystified by a technical foul called by the referee when he had seemingly not shown dissent to the official. Meanwhile the Arrows mainly through McFarland were able to score regularly whilst Solent desperate to try and stay in the game were unable to find their range. Rob Bawden was fouled and scored one of two free throws but got his own rebound only to be fouled again. Kieran Forsythe completed the scoring with a two point play after Zwolak's three pointer had failed to find the target at the other end. 109 - 73

Sheffield Arrows: C. McFarland 34, A. Rankine 27, C. Deas 21, K. Forsythe 14, L. Wahlberg 4, J. Kelly 2, A. Jadege 2, P. Szafraniec 2, H. Veysey 2.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 28, S. Zwolak 12, J. Wilkins 10, C. Milner 7, R. Bawden 7, Liam Mitchell 5, B. Stanley 2, and D. Mason 2.

5 November 2006

SOLENT STARS 58 (17, 30, 40)
PAWS LONDON CAPITALS 82 (20, 39, 59)

Solent Stars suffered their second defeat of the weekend on Sunday when they lost to the Paws London Capitals in a match where their inability to take their chances meant that the score belied the closeness of the game. Coach Kerry Kirby continues to be frustrated by his team's inconsistency as, defensively, they restricted the Capitals to 82 points but could only muster 58 themselves.

Once again, the Stars began well with a steal from Earl Moore and three pointer from Liam Mitchell. The Capitals responded to level the scores quickly with two 3 pointers from Saunders which spurred them to score a further 9 unanswered points. The Stars rallied but suffered a blow with 3 minutes to go in the quarter when Sebastian Zwolak picked up his third foul and Coach Kirby was forced to sit him out. Ben Stanley and Earl Moore, who played at about only 75% fitness over the weekend after a bout of flu, both scored 3 pointers to keep the score close at the end of the quarter. 20 - 17

The Stars woes began to become evident in the second quarter as Moore struggled to find his range. It was 4 minutes into the quarter before Clayton Milner scored the Stars' first points of the quarter but he soon was taken out of the game having suffered the same fate as Zwolak. Coach Kirby was called for a technical foul when questioning the referees during a time out and this also cost the Stars as the Capitals' Gareth Laws came into the game and scored 9 quick points, including two 3 pointers, to retain the lead for his team at half time. 39 - 30

Zwolak came back into the game and began the second half with two free throws and a further four points in the first three minutes which reduced the deficit to four and caused Capitals' Coach Pete Deppish to call time out. This spurred his team into action and they produced an 18 -1 run mainly through Saunders and Laws, as Zwolak's 3 pointer was ruled out for a 24 second violation and Moore's 3 point attempt rebounded out of the basket. 59 - 40

The final quarter began with a three pointer from Zwolak that counted on this occasion but he was then caught by an elbow and had to leave the court with a painful injury. The Capitals took advantage of the Stars foul problems which meant that Milner and Zwolak were effectively sharing the game and scored regularly whilst at the other end the Stars struggled to get on the score sheet. Moore did get a 3 pointer with 2 minutes to go but the Capitals scored the final 7 points of the game to complete what on paper at least appeared an easy victory.

Coach Deppish admitted afterwards that the game could have been a lot closer if the Stars big men had not got into foul trouble, whilst Coach Kirby lamented his teams lack of consistency. Having improved their defence from the previous evenings defeat at Sheffield they failed to execute their offence in their normal fashion.

PAWS London Capitals: G. Laws 22, M. Saunders 21, S. Gariba 15, C. Da Silva 6, W. Mamuni 6, J. Sitar 4, A. Nyeko 3, D. Harris 3, C. Lewis - Parry 2.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 28, S. Zwolak 18, B. Stanley 7, C. Milner 6, L. Mitchell 4, J. Wilkins 2.

11 November 2006

SOLENT STARS 73 (15, 35, 52,)
TEES VALLEY MOHAWKS 66 (15, 28, 48)

Solent Stars picked up their first league win of the season at Fleming Park on Saturday when they defeated the Tees Valley Mohawks in a close fought exciting encounter. This was despite suffering another blow before the game when influential Polish Star Sebastian Zwolak parted company with the club for personal reasons leaving Coach Kerry Kirby with an even more inexperienced team with which to try and get his first win of the campaign.

The game got off to a scrappy with Clayton Milner picking up a foul in the first minute but Tanner Adu for Tees Valley was unable to convert either of his free throws. The game ebbed and flowed as Earl Moore and Ben Stanley put the Stars in front only for Adu and Francis Tebo to bring the Mohawks back into the game. Eventually a three pointer from Carl Colmer put them into the lead with two minutes left in the quarter. The Stars, though, held their nerve and Ryan Payne, who played with a knee brace having injured a cartilage in mid week, put them level at the end of the quarter. 15 - 15

Solent began to establish a lead in the second quarter despite the Mohawks scoring first, with Milner in particular to the fore. His 8 points accompanied by 6 from Payne and 4 from Moore put the Stars up but 16 points with two minutes to go in the half as the Mohawks failed to find the target on numerous occasions. Coach Kirby then decided to give has starters a rest to keep them fresh for the second half but the plan backfired as David Hansen fired in a three for the Mohawks beginning a run of nine unanswered points which brought the lead back to seven at half time. 35 - 28

The Mohawks continued the momentum in the third quarter with Adu and Tebo a constant threat to the Stars defence. Solent had to be thankful to Moore who managed to find his three point range and managed to knock down three long range efforts in his quarter total of 11 points which matched Adu's total. Ryan Payne supported Moore which helped to keep the Stars in the lead by four points at the end of the quarter. 52 - 48

Ben Stanley fired in a three pointer early in the final quarter but it was not enough as the Mohawks took the lead when Hansen was fouled whilst scoring. He put Tees Valley further ahead before Moore and Payne restored Solent's lead. With three minutes to go. The Stars defense held up well, restricting Tees Valley to six points in the final five minutes of the game but there was a scare when with two minutes to go Moore picked up his fourth foul but he was able to see out the game. Indeed with the Mohawks in foul trouble the Stars scored most of the remaining points in the game from the free throw line and ran out winners by seven points. 73 - 66

Coach Kirby was very relieved after the game to have got his first win of the league season, commented "Now we've got the first win under our belts and with Antonia Bright coming in next week we can go into the upcoming games with more confidence."
The Stars travel to Coventry to face the Dip Donaldson's Crusaders next Saturday.

Solent Stars: E. Moore 29, C. Milner 20, R. Payne 13, B. Stanley 9, J. Wilkins 2.
Tees Valley Mohawks: T. Adu 23, F. Tebo 15, D. Hansen 11, C. Colmer 6, Z. Kankovic 4, A. Dabiri 3, M. Thompson 2, A. Marshall 2.

18 November 2006

COVENTRY CRUSADERS 101 (31, 48, 70)
SOLENT STARS 96 (25, 51, 71)

Disappointed Solent Stars' coach Kerry Kirby was left lamenting the "one that got away" as his team frittered away a nine point lead late in the third quarter to lose by five against the Coventry Crusaders on Saturday. Kirby felt that Solent should have won the game after being in control in the second and third quarters but will take heart from the performance of new signing Antonio Bright who scored 33 points on his debut.

Coventry who are known for their three point shooting began the game by penetrating the Stars' defence inside for some easy points. Bright started the scoring for Solent when he was fouled in scoring. Unfortunately, he was unable to make the free throw his only miss of the evening from the line. Ryan Payne brought the Stars level when converted a three point play after being fouled but Scott Neely for the Crusaders clicked into gear and scored their next seven points to establish a lead. Bright kept Solent in the game, first putting them level again at 18 -18 and then giving them a lead with another three pointer.

Coventry stormed back through their American duo of Neely and Sam Oatman, who scored 14 of his personal total of 36 in the first quarter, to lead at the quarter end. 31 - 25

An Earl Moore steal early in the second quarter brought the lead back to two but Oatman countered with a three pointer. Veteran Dip Donaldson produced a great block on Bright but he was not to be denied off the rebound. The game ebbed and flowed and Moore put the Stars back in the lead with Clayton Milner then extending their lead to three. The game was unusually littered with offensive fouls but another Moore basket and four points from Bright put the Stars up by nine only for three pointers from Neely and Oatman to bring the Crusaders back to within three points at the end of the half.

Sandwiched in between the Crusaders scores Moore had missed a three pointer which in some ways summed up the Stars night as for the first time this season Moore failed to score one three pointer in the game. 48 - 51

The third quarter began with another offensive foul this time from Sam Spare and the Stars were able to keep a narrow lead, whilst for Coventry Donaldson used his experience to pick up some easy points under the basket from inbound plays against the Stars young defenders. The Stars shooting was a little erratic but it looked good for them when two points from Payne and five from Bright put them nine points eight minutes into the quarter. Neely, however, had other ideas and two quick three pointers and a two from Oatman reduced the Stars' lead to one at the end of the quarter. 70 - 71

Indeed Neely maintained the momentum at the start of the final quarter by putting the Crusaders in the lead with another three pointer, but Ben Stanley replied for the Stars. Oatman then produced a long three pointer form "Down Town" as the 24 second buzzer sounded which was followed by a Neely two and Coach Kirby was forced to call time out. His team's defence was starting to fail at a crucial time, which was particularly frustrating for him as he had concentrated on defence with the team during midweek training.

Bright again kept the Stars in the game and with 2 minutes to go the Crusaders lead was just six points. However, the Stars by this time had lost Milner who had fouled out and with the clock the problem they had to resort to further fouls to try and make it difficult for the Crusaders. Coventry retained their cool from the line to maintain their lead although there was a ray of light for the Stars when a Stanley three pointer and two from Liam Mitchell brought the lead back three points, but when Moore fouled Donaldson it was left to the veteran to score two free throws to complete Coventry's win. 101 - 96

The Coventry players admitted afterwards that it had probably been their best shooting match so far this season which is scant solace to Coach Kirby who, despite the encouraging performances of Bright, Moore and Payne, who continues to play with a brace supporting a knee injury, will be disappointed that his team gave up twelve successful three pointers to Coventry.

Coventry Crusaders: Oatman 36, Neely 30, Donaldson 10, Twerdzinski 8, Hall 8, Solvason 7, Owen 2.
Solent Stars: Bright 33, Moore 25, Payne 13, Milner 12, Stanley 9, Wilkins 2, Mitchell 2.

25 November 2006

SOLENT STARS 85 (21, 47, 69)
WORTHING THUNDER 112 (29, 62 83)

The size and power of the Worthing Thunder overwhelmed the Solent Stars on Saturday night at Fleming Park. They set their stall out early with 6' 9" Pat Bates scoring the first four points of the game, and whilst the Stars lead by the free scoring Earl Moore battled gainfully to keep in touch, Worthing were able to control the game.

With Worthing already four points up, Ben Stanley scored Solent's first points of the game with a long three pointer but fouls in quick succession on James Brame and Bates allowed Worthing to extend their lead from the free throw line. With the Thunder up by 10 Moore brought Solent back into the game with six points sandwiched either side of a Ryan Marrast three pointer and when Antonio Bright scored the lead was reduced to four. Once again the Stars fouled Brame and Bates as they went inside to the basket and Worthing took the lead back to eight at the end of the quarter. 21 - 29

Bright was fouled whilst scoring at the beginning of the second quarter to give him a three point play and two three point baskets, one from Bright and one from Moore combined with a Moore two brought the Thunder's lead down to two. Bates was still scoring regularly and Worthing were able to re-establish their lead as their American Star Alfredo Ott began a run which lead to him scoring 13 points in the quarter. This was matched only by Moore who managed to outdo Ott by one point in the quarter, but errant passes and missed shots were costing Solent and crucially Antonio Bright had picked his third foul mid way through the quarter. 47 - 62

Worthing began the second half in commanding fashion with three pointers from Marrast and Ott and although Bright was persevering manfully to keep the Stars in it the Thunder were able to build the lead to 20 when Brame hit a three pointer four minutes into the quarter. Ryan Payne and Moore then lead a Stars revival with eight unanswered points to reduce the lead to twelve but Thunder coach Gary Smith had now turned to Worthing's second American Hank Rivers and he scored the final points of the quarter to maintain their lead 69 - 83.

A burst of nine unanswered points in the first four minutes of the quarter which included a three pointer for Dan Midgeley effectively tied the game up for Worthing, especially when, with eight minutes left to play, Bright was called for his fifth foul. Both coaches after the game agreed it was a "soft call" by the referee, and with Bright leaving the game any chance of a Solent comeback was left in the hands of Earl Moore, who did manage ten points in the quarter but that was never going to be enough for Solent. For Worthing, Midgeley had an extremely productive quarter pulling in 13 points to keep them comfortably in front. In the final minutes with the result no longer in doubt both teams gave their bench players some court time and Cieran Burns completed the scoring for Worthing from the free throw line. 85 - 112
Solent coach Kerry Kirby was philosophical after the game lamenting his team's lack of an experienced "big man" but felt the key point of the game was the loss of Bright in the final quarter. "When Antonio fouled out it took away any chance we had of pulling back and making it a really exciting finish."

The Stars have Saturday off next week but travel to Reading to face the Rockets on Sunday (Rivermead Centre, 4.00pm)

Solent Stars: E. Moore 38, A. Bright 21, R. Payne 9, B. Stanley 8, C. Milner 7, J. Wilkins 2.
Worthing Thunder: A. Ott 28, P. Bates 19, H. Rivers 17, D. Midgley 15, J. Brame 12, J. Ivanovskis 10, R. Marrast 6, D. Shotton 2, M. Addy 2, C. Burns 1.

3 December 2006

SOLENT STARS 76 (28, 46, 60)
READING ROCKETS 111 (28, 57, 82)

Coach Kerry Kirby's Solent Stars made an impressive start to their match at Reading on Sunday and, whilst the Rockets had come back to lead by the half, the Stars' hopes of pulling off a shock win faded as first Captain Ryan Payne and then influential American Earl Moore picked up injuries and had to leave the game. For the Rockets Ryan Williams, who trained with Solent in the pre season, lead their scorers with a personal total of 46 points.

Reading had a new signing from Worthing, Steve Vear, in their ranks and he showed his worth immediately by placing a pinpoint pass to Williams under the basket. Solent had several shots rim out but a three pointer from Moore put them level at 7 - 7 and Antonio Bright put them into the lead. Three pointers from Moore and Ben Stanley extended their lead and when Moore was fouled his two successful free throws put the Stars up by eight points. Williams, however, was in a free scoring mood and was finding open shots which brought Reading back into the game and he was ably assisted by David "Tin Tin" Watts who leveled the score once again with the final points of the quarter. 28 - 28

Ben Stanley restored Solent's lead with a three pointer early in the second and Reading Coach Dave Titmuss called time out with only two minutes gone in the quarter. This had the required effect as Vear put Reading back into the lead soon after. Solent's offence began to stutter and after a 24 second violation a Vear three pointer put the Rockets up by six. Coach Kirby called his own time out but Reading had the momentum and Williams had them well in front before Bright completed the scoring with a fast break slam dunk. 57 - 46

The second half began with Reading pulling down numerous offensive rebounds before Vear was fouled and scored one of two. Solent slowed the pace of the game to try and curb the Rockets flow of points but their cause was not helped when Darren Mason picked up his fourth foul. On offence Solent were having trouble completing their moves only managing three points in the first five minutes of the quarter and then Ryan Payne fell awkwardly on his injured knee and had to leave the game. Meanwhile, Reading were continuing to score comfortably through Williams and Vear extending their lead and any hope of Solent holding on and making a come back themselves dissolved when Earl Moore took a knock on his hamstring and also had to leave the game. Bright tried his best for Solent and Moore returned to the game but his return was short lived and his injury got the better of him. Reading took full advantage of Solent's plight and a full court press left Richard Wellings to complete the scoring for the quarter with an easy lay up. 82 - 60

Having put ice on his knee Ryan Payne returned to the game but Moore was still struggling with his injury. Vear increased Reading's lead with two quick three pointers and Solent's situation worsened when Bright was left exposed defensively and committed two quick fouls and fouled out for the second game running. Earl Moore did attempt to return to the game with three minutes to go but was unable to continue and both teams with the result no longer in doubt allowed some of their bench players some court time in the last couple of minutes. 111 - 76

Coach Kirby said after the game "We didn't help ourselves. We looked good in the first quarter when we moved the ball on offence but we stopped moving the ball and made it harder for ourselves. Then any chance we had was extinguished with the injuries to Ryan and Earl."

Reading Rockets: R. Williams 46, D. Watts 23, S. Vear 21, R. Wellings 9, J. Cook 4, J. Ashwin 2, S. Kearney 2, A. Kelly 2, D. Carter 2.
Solent Stars: A. Bright 21, E. Moore 20, B. Stanley 15, C. Milner 8, R. Payne 6, D. Mason 4, K. Lawal 2.

9 December

SOLENT STARS 78 (19, 40, 60)
MANCHESTER MAGIC 126 (29, 61, 100, 126)

For the second time this season Solent Stars' coach Kerry Kirby was struck down with illness and missed seeing his young team face a mauling from the on form Manchester Magic. There was little he or his stand in, veteran coach Mick Byrne, could have done to prevent Jeff Jones' Magic overpowering their hosts, registering 100 points by the end of the third quarter, and qualifying for the semi finals of the National Trophy.

The Stars began the game without Captain Ryan Payne who was in Plymouth coaching his under-18 team, and American Star Earl Moore who was carrying an injury picked up in the previous game against Reading. Both sides made a ragged start to the game with the first point being scored by Antonio Bright from the free throw line two minutes into the game. Manchester Magic finally found the range in spectacular fashion with two three pointers from John Caginello and another from Steven Gayle sandwiched around a three from Ben Stanley for the Stars. The Magic had established an eight point lead when a six point unanswered run from Bright brought the Stars back to within two but they were never to get any closer. Manchester, with Gayle to the fore, re-established a ten point lead by the end of the quarter. 19 - 29

With Caginello having a difficult shooting night by his standards, fellow American Matt Miller took over the mantle and he increased the Magic's lead with two three pointers. Solent were struggling to convert their chances and Manchester effectively sealed the game with 9 point unanswered run to lead by twenty-five mid way through the quarter. Bright battled manfully to keep the Stars in the game with eleven points in the quarter but Manchester had a definite size advantage which meant he his way to the basket blocked on numerous occasions. 40 - 61

Solent introduced Moore into the game at the start of the second half but he was obviously not moving as freely as normal although Solent were able to match the Magic for the first five minutes of the quarter with points from Moore, Clayton Milner and Matt Godfrey. Manchester reinforced their lead from there on scoring regularly through Miller, Gayle, Andrew Thompson and Cameron Wright. Solent continued to try and make it difficult for their opponents but their scoring rate was never going to worry the Magic.
60 - 100

Wright missed three free throws after being fouled early in the final quarter but even that failed to stop the Magic's scoring flow. Andrew Mackay, Adam Slater and Stefan Gill extended the lead whilst Bright responded with a three pointer for Solent. Gill effectively took over the game scoring 18 points in the final quarter. Bright took his personal total to 33 in scoring the final point of the game from the free throw line but Solent's young inexperienced squad, who it had to be said are learning all the time, had taken a mauling from the Magic who it can be expected will in contention when the silverware is handed out later in the season.

Solent Stars: A. Bright 33, C. Milner 14, E. Moore 9, M. Godfrey 7, B. Stanley 5, C. Teesdale 4, D. Mason 4, K. Lawal 2.
Manchester Magic: S. Gill 28, M. Miller 24, A. Thompson 17, S. Gayle16, J. Caginello 13, G. Smith 8, C. Wright 6, A. Mackay 6, A. Slater 4, S. Boonham 4.

16 December

SOLENT STARS 99 (22, 42, 67)
KING'S LYNN FURY 112 (21, 49, 80)

It was a frustrating time for Coach Kerry Kirby on Saturday night when his Solent Stars team went down by thirteen points to fellow basement strugglers King's Lynn. Whilst full of praise for King's Lynn who "played better and harder than when I saw them on several occasions earlier in the season", Coach Kirby was perplexed by his own team who he felt "played like champs at times to level or bring the score close only to fade away and let the opposition rebuild a lead."

Coach Kirby's game plan was dealt a blow in midweek when during a training session Captain Ryan Payne let slip that he would not be travelling with the team due to a rearranged match for his under-18 team. This always looked to be crucial decision as the game was likely to be a close encounter between two teams struggling to find a winning formula and this was confirmed in the first quarter when neither team could establish a lead. King's Lynn began the game playing the fast break and the Stars picked up several early fouls as the Fury built a five point lead. The Stars came back through Clayton Milner and Antonio Bright before Steve Pilkington re-established the narrow lead going inside. Earl Moore scored the first of two three pointers in the quarter to keep the Stars in touch and after Mike Williamson had scored only one from two free throws Bright scored with a jump shot from the corner on the buzzer to give the Stars the lead at the end of the quarter. 21 - 22

Craig Percival scored his only two points of the game to put the Fury back in front early in the second quarter and things looked bleak for the Stars as the diminutive American Lawrence Summers scored 11 straight points, including 3 three pointers, to put the Fury up by twelve. However, this sparked Moore into his own personal crusade and a run of seven unanswered points put the Stars level but the Fury once again pulled away through Pilkington and Summers to lead by seven at half time. 49 - 42

Coach Kirby talked at length with his team at half time but they were hit by a blow when 6' 8" Darren Mason fouled out with 8:39 to go in the quarter. For the Fury Player/Coach James Bamfield had introduced himself into the game and seven points for him maintained their lead until Moore and Bright reduced the lead to three but Bright then picked up his fourth foul sending Williamson to the line where he knocked down all three free throws. A crucial moment in the game soon after when Earl Moore was called for a dubious charging foul in mid court. Coach Kirby questioned the referee too vehemently and was called for a technical foul. Williamson scored one from the subsequent free throw and two more from the possession. A three pointer from Moore brought the Stars back to seven points down but the Fury finished the quarter strongly with five points from Summers and two from Pilkington. 80 - 67

The fourth quarter primarily belonged to Summers who despite his size or perhaps because of it was almost able to waltz through the Stars flimsy defence and scored 16 points in the period. Five points from Summers had put King's Lynn up by 17 points before unanswered points from Milner and Ben Stanley caused them to take a time out. A three pointer from Bright and two from Moore brought the Stars back to twelve by mid way through the quarter but Summers produced a three of his own to keep his team in a winning position. The Fury still led by eleven when coach Kirby called time out for the Stars with 1:11 to go in the game but the Stars were unable to reduce the deficit any further. 112 - 99

Coach Kirby and his players were desperately disappointed with the defeat in a game they definitely felt they could win and go into the Christmas having to regroup and review their situation. It is fair to say they need greater experience to support Moore, Bright, and Milner especially when Ryan Payne is unavailable and new signings are likely if players can be found to fit the bill. With home advantage in a majority of the games in the second half of the season all is not yet lost for the Stars but a lot of work needs to be done by all concerned and they will need the support of their loyal fans who mean so much to the Club when the time comes in the New Year.

King's Lynn Fury: L. Summers 48, S. Pilkington 33, M. Wilkinson 15, J. Bamfield 9, R. Milbourne 3. C. Percival 2, W. Gibbs 2.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 41, A. Bright 25, C. Milner 23, B. Stanley 4, D. Mason 4, K. Lawal 2.

6 January 2007

SOLENT STARS 95 (24, 48, 66)
WORTHING THUNDER 106 (36, 58, 84)

Solent Stars pushed the Worthing Thunder all the way in their National Trophy game at Worthing on Saturday night. Only time will tell for Worthing whether their decision to play the game as opposed to Manchester's decision to postpone their Trophy match until next week will prove the correct one, but for Solent it was a very encouraging performance.

Solent began the game with new signing Paul Young in their starting five and their good defence caused a number of early turnovers from Worthing which lead to Solent taking the lead when Antonio Bright was fouled. Worthing came back but Bright levelled the scores only for Alfredo Ott to hit a three pointer to restore the Thunder's lead. Bright battled well to keep Solent in the game but Solent's early defensive prowess failed them and Janis Ivanovskis began to rack up the points inside and under the basket and when James Brame fired in a three pointer their lead was up to twelve. 36 - 24

Worthing, in an attempt to kill the game off early began the second quarter with some aggressive defence which immediately lead to Ott stealing the ball from Earl Moore and scoring an easy lay up. Solent however did manage to respond and Moore scored a long three pointer before the game became scrappy with missed chances at both ends. Solent reduced the deficit to nine points through Ryan Payne and Moore but some slack play allowed Worthing to re-establish a 14 point lead and things got worse for Solent when Bright picked up his third foul and had to take a turn on the bench. With Young to the fore Solent had succeeded in slowing down Ivanovskis but he still managed seven in the quarter to take his total to 23 by half time. For the Stars, Moore was having a low scoring night by his standards, concentrating on defensive rebounds, but he managed another three pointer to complete the scoring for the half. 58 - 48

Bright scored the first points of the third quarter for Solent but Brame and Pat Bates, who had been the scourge of Solent the last time the two sides met, began increase the Thunder's lead. Coach Kerry Kirby called time out but this didn't have the desired effect as soon after Bright picked up an injury as he also picked up his fourth foul. Solent were having little luck as on several occasions tipped passes pinged around their basket only to end up in the hands of a Worthing player for an easy score. Moore scored late in the quarter but then had the ball stolen by Marvin Addy but he only scored one from two of the resulting free throws. 84 - 66

Bright rejoined the game and again scored the first points of the half. Worthing's shooting began to fail them and through Payne and a three pointer from Moore, Solent reduced the lead to twelve, with Payne forcing Worthing coach Gary Smith to call time out. With two and a half minutes to go, after a Solent time out, Bright reduced Worthing's lead further and the sides then traded three pointers through Ott and Payne but the sequence was broken when Moore's attempt rimmed out. This proved costly as Worthing's new American signing Marcus Avant scored with a three pointer that bounced, rolled around the rim and in. Coach Kirby did call time out with 14 seconds to go but with the Thunder leading by 14 it was academic by then. Bright was fouled and scored with the two free throws and then scored again off a steal to take his personal tally to 33 points in the game. 106 - 95

Worthing controlled the game from early on but were given a good work out and Coach Kirby was proud of his players and the progress they are making. "The team can look forward to their forthcoming fixtures with renewed optimism if they can repeat performances like this. I never like to lose but I can say I'm relatively happy with this defeat against a team that is arguably the best in the league" he commented after the game.

Worthing Thunder: J. Ivanovskis 33, A. Ott 19, P. Bates 14, D. Midgley 12, J. Brame 10, R. Marrast 8, M. Avant 5, M. Addy 3, C. Burns 2.
Solent Stars: A. Bright 33, E. Moore 20, R. Payne 16, P. Young 12, C. Milner 11, B. Stanley 3.

13 January 2007

SOLENT STARS 87 (26, 44, 63)
COVENTRY CRUSADERS 60 (23, 31, 48)

Solent Stars beat the Coventry Crusaders on Saturday night at the Mountbatten Centre in their National Trophy Pool A match to continue their recent improvement. The result means that Solent avoid the wooden spoon in the pool and hand it to Coventry. Work on their defence in the past few weeks is beginning to reap benefits as they restricted Coventry to 60 points whilst scoring 83 themselves. Nick O’Harabe returned to the side and played his part but it was recent signing Paul Young who played a big supporting role to Solent’s American duo that secured the win for the Stars.

Coventry began the game at a fast pace and quickly ran up a 9 – 2 lead with Marcin Twierdzinski scoring seven of their points but Solent came back when, after O’Harabe scored his first two points back in a Solent jersey, their Americans, Antonio Bright and Earl Moore put fifteen points on the board between them. Two three pointers from Scott Neely kept Coventry close but the Solent defence had managed to stem the flow of easy points that the Crusaders had been getting earlier in the quarter. 26 – 23

The second quarter was a low scoring affair with only Earl Moore being able to find the basket on a regular basis. His twelve points in the quarter took his personal tally to 21 in the half as the Stars stretched their lead. Coventry struggled on offence despite another three pointer from Neely and only amassed 8 points in the quarter. 44 – 31

Coventry coach Dip Donaldson had his charges on the court during the interval as he went through some plays and it is fair to say that the Crusaders were using their entire squad during the game. Indeed, it did seem to work for the Crusaders who had a much better quarter with Twierdzinski once again to the fore and Sam Oatman getting in on the act after a quiet first half by his standards. The teams traded baskets until Neely with his fourth three pointer of the game brought Coventry within nine points of Solent but by now Young was beginning to be effective inside and picking up points to support Bright 63 – 48

In the final quarter Sam Oatman tried hard to get Coventry back into the game by driving through the middle of the Stars defence. This brought him some considerable success but most of his points came from the free throw line. For Solent the quarter effectively belonged to Young. He was a constant thorn in the side of the Coventry defence and caused them to foul also. His successful free throws, along with points from Moore and Clayton Milner, extended Solent’s lead and when they went on an eight point unanswered run about a minute from the end the win was secured. This allowed Coach Kirby to give some of his bench players some valuable court time. 87 – 60

Whilst a win was vital for the Stars no-one in their camp is getting carried away. Coach Kirby “This was a good win for us especially by a margin of 27 points. However, it’s wins in the league that we need and next week’s game against UH West Herts Warriors will be a big test because they have a roster full of big men, and are the type of team we have struggled against this season.” The game against West Herts takes place at Fleming Park next Sunday with a 2.00pm tip off.

Solent Stars: E. Moore 28, A. Bright 24, P. Young 16, N. O’Harabe 6, B. Stanley 5, R. Payne 4, C. Milner 2, J. Wilkins 2.
Coventry Crusaders: S. Oatman 21, M. Twierdzinski 17, S. Neely 12, S. Spare 4, E. Baynes-Clarke 4, R. Owen 2.

21 January 2007

SOLENT STARS 60 (14, 29, 49)
UH WEST HERTS WARRIORS 75 (17, 36, 56)

The West Herts Warriors had the measure of the Solent Stars for the third time this season at Fleming Park on Sunday. Having felt the Force of the Stars’ Earl Moore in the previous two games in their own gym they were determined not to let that happen again, and succeeded superbly, restricting him to his lowest total this season. However, that was as much due to Moore and the Stars’ poor shooting as it was to their own defence.

The first quarter began slowly despite Moore providing a pass for a spectacular dunk by Antonio Bright, and things began to look good for Solent when Ben Stanley knocked down a long three pointer in the third minute. However, this failed to spark the Stars into life. Pierre Henry-Fontaine brought the Warriors back into the game scoring a three pointer of his own only for Stanley to respond similarly to keep the Stars narrowly in front. Bright for the Stars was having trouble regularly getting into the game and he missed two free throws before Lamont Sharp and Henry-Fontaine put West Herts five points up. Once more Stanley netted a three pointer to keep Solent close as the quarter ended. 14 – 17

Bright began the scoring for Solent in the second quarter but was still struggling from the free throw line. Two points from Clayton Milner levelled the scores four minutes into the quarter before a 6 point run from West Herts restored the lead. Milner and Bright again brought Solent close but with two minutes left in the half, Mark Quashie and Jo Perera scored nine points for the Warriors and Stanley Burrison finished the run off with a three pointer to re-establish a comfortable lead. Moore finally got away from the shackles of the Warriors defence to score his first points of the match and the half ended with Solent behind by seven. 29 – 36

Once again the half began well for Solent with Moore, Nick O’Harabe, and another three pointer from Stanley, reducing the deficit. For West Herts, Stanley Burrison was having a productive time and he kept the points ticking over and they forged their way back into a ten point lead with two minutes to go in the quarter. It was a scrappy game with many turnovers and both coaches were frustrated with their teams who had produced much better performances recently. Solent, however, threatened a comeback as the quarter ended but a three pointer from Marlon Henry kept the Warriors well in front. 49 – 56

The final quarter lacked the spark that was required particularly from Solent’s point of view. Paul Young, Milner, and a three pointer from O’Harabe kept Solent in the game but Henry-Fontaine and Henry ensured that the Warriors stayed in front. Bright and O’Harabe netted for Solent as the final minute approached but by then West Herts were still ten points up. The game ended with a long speculative three pointer from Lamont Sharp which although appearing to fall short was given by the referees because of interference by a Solent player. 60 – 75

Solent face a daunting trip to Manchester to meet the Magic next week (Saturday 27th 7.30pm tip off Amaechi Centre) who will be smarting after suffering two home defeats in a row.

Solent Stars: A. Bright 15, N. O’Harabe 12, B. Stanley 11, P. Young 9, C. Milner 8, E. Moore 6.
UH West Herts Warriors: P. Henry-Fontaine 24, S. Burrison11, J. Perera 10, M. Henry 8, L. Sharp 7, M. Quashie 7, T. Frederick 4, L. McCarthy 2, M. Eames 2.

27 January 2007

SOLENT STARS 80 (20, 38, 60)
MANCHESTER MAGIC 106 (28, 50, 87)

In a very entertaining game Solent Stars contributed a big part and ensured that in form Manchester Magic were made to work for their win in Manchester on Saturday night. Lead by their Americans Antonio Bright and Earl Moore the Stars kept in touch with the title hopefuls without ever seriously threatening their lead, although, in the final quarter they did miss chances to reduce the deficit as Manchester struggled to find their scoring touch for several minutes.

There was little evidence of the entertainment to come as both sides began the game with some erratic shooting. Manchester’s American player John Cagianello broke the mould with a long three pointer and then his fellow countryman Matt Miller put the Magic up 9-3. The Stars came back through their Americans and then a steal from Clayton Milner allowed Paul Young to cut the lead to two. Cagianello and Stefan Gill then hit three pointers to take Manchester clear six minutes in to the quarter, before Nick O’Harabe put down a three pointer to bring the Stars back to five. His ex–Worthing colleague Stephen Gayle countered with his own three pointer and the teams then traded baskets until the end of the quarter 28 – 20.

O’Harabe had Solent’s first shot of the second quarter but was unsuccessful and this proved costly as the Magic scored six unanswered points before the Stars troubled the scorer when Moore found O’Harabe and he was fouled whilst scoring. He scored the resulting free throw but the Stars were still down by nine points, and this was not helped when Moore intercepted a Manchester pass but Milner couldn’t hold on to his pass. Coach Kerry Kirby called time out but this didn’t have the required effect as a travel violation and a three pointer saw the Stars fourteen points down. Solent had numerous shots rim out before Moore scored a three pointer although they were thankful for Manchester’s poor free throw shooting during this period. However, their biggest problem was when Bright picked up his fourth foul when he was called for a dubious charge. 50 – 38

The Stars’ Clayton Milner was called for a foul on John Cagianello as he was shooting a three pointer early in the third quarter and he made two of the free throws. Indeed, the Stars struggled to get going from the restart and were called for a 24 second violation and after being called for a defensive foul Andrew Thompson went straight up the other end and put down a three pointer for Manchester that started them on a run and they extended their lead to sixteen points. Coach Kirby had taken a calculated risk by playing from Bright from the start of the half but he repaid the coach but battling hard to keep the Stars in the game although Manchester’s speed and quick ball movement kept their score ticking over with Thompson and Miller to the fore. 87 – 60

The final quarter began like a shootout which Manchester comfortably won 13 – 6 to extend their lead and when Cagianello scored to take the Magic’s score to 100 it looked like Solent were going to suffer a heavy defeat. However, it took over two and half minutes for them to score again and the Stars, through Moore and Bright, added ten points to their total and missed several other easy scoring opportunities. The pressure seemed to get to Manchester for a while and Coach Jeff Jones was called for a technical whilst disputing a foul called on Cagianello for pushing Moore. Milner scored four points more for Solent, but Moore failed with a three point attempt as Manchester ran out worthy winners, despite Solent edging the scoring in the last quarter. 106 – 80

Coach Kirby, who is noticing a gradual improvement from his young bench players, said afterwards “We competed very well and gave them a good game. We don’t have the strength they do but we are improving. Having a great basketball dedicated facility as they do in Manchester must be a help with their development programme.”

Manchester Magic: J. Cagianello 23, S. Gayle 18, M. Miller 15, S. Gill 11, A. Thompson 9, S. Hastings 8, G. Smith 6. A. Mckay 6, J. Lindsay 4, S. Boonham 4, A. Slater 2.
Solent Stars: A. Bright 26, E. Moore 21, N. O’Harabe 12, C. Milner 9, P. Young 4, K. Lawal 4, D. Mason 2, B. Stanley 2.

4 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 89 (22, 50, 67)
LONDON LEOPARDS 87 (23, 49, 66)

Solent Stars pulled off their second league win of the season on Sunday at Fleming Park when they edged out the London Leopards in a thriller of a game in which neither side could establish a big lead. There was no doubting that the Leopards were a little jaded from their exploits at Worthing on the previous evening, where they lost by seven points, but Solent kept to their task and got the win they needed to boost their confidence for the rest of the season.

The first quarter didn’t start well for the Stars as their shooting appeared to be off and it allowed the Leopards force their way into an eight point lead. Eventually, Earl Moore troubled the scorers for Solent in the third minute of the game but still things weren’t going Solent’s way as Paul Young picked up two early fouls and was substituted. The Leopards too were getting into foul trouble and over the next few minutes Clayton Milner and Moore were sent to the line for free throws. When Antonio Bright was fouled whilst scoring he scored the free throw and Solent were back within two points of the Leopards. Bright then scored again before the quarter ended with Duncan Ogilvie and Ben Stanley swapping three pointers leaving the Leopards in front by one. 22 – 23

Fowler scored for the Leopards at the start of the second quarter before Stanley produced another three pointer to level the score and Moore put Solent in front for the first time. Fowler, Ogilvie, and James Nicholson then scored for the Leopards to restore the lead and Ogilvie in particular was causing problems for the Stars who were having to foul to keep him in check. Moore, Nick O’Harabe and Bright then gave Solent the lead back and Leopards coach Jon Burnell called time out - but O’Harabe extended the Stars lead with a three pointer. In keeping with the trend of the game the Leopards came back again to level the score but Bright and Moore again put the Stars in front and Matt Godfrey joined the game for the Stars to extend the lead only for Fowler to bring the Leopards back into it with a speculative three pointer on the buzzer. 50 – 49

The Leopards came out with an aggressive defensive strategy in the second half which proved quite successful and the Stars struggled to get out of their own half. They retook the lead but the Stars kept themselves close through Moore and Milner. The lead changed hands several times as both sides struggled to retain an advantage. After Solent established a three point lead through O’Harabe and Bright, Milner was called for two quick fouls and Nicholson and Campbell both scored one of two free throws to keep the deficit to one at the end of the quarter. 67 – 66

Solent put the ball in the hands of Moore and Bright in the final quarter and they had the Stars six points up after four minutes but soon after Young fouled out and Milner returned to the game. Ogilvie was once again causing Solent problems and was sent to the free throw line on several consecutive possessions but fortunately for Solent he was only able to score one of two free throws on each occasion.

When Moore intercepted a pass Sam Salter fouled him and he was awarded two free throws even though he didn’t actually appear to be shooting. This incensed the Leopards bench and they were called for a technical foul for their dissent. This only seemed to spark the Leopards as James Nicholson surged through the Solent defence to put his team back into the lead. Things looked bleak for Solent when Stanley was harshly called for an intentional foul and Joe Ikhinmwin scored the resulting free throws with just a minute to go. The Leopards were unable to convert the resulting possession and Solent battling to the end forced fouls from the Leopards as first Nicholson and then Ikhinmwin fouled out.

The final free throws went to O’Harabe who retained his cool to score both to put Solent into the lead for the final time. The game ended chaotically as Solent, in bounding from in front of their own bench, contrived to put the ball almost under their own basket and the ball went out of bounds off a Solent player. With only one second left, however, the Leopards were unable to get a shot off and Solent had held on for a memorable win.

Coach Kerry Kirby was delighted after the game but knows that his team has a lot of work to do yet if they are to get a place in the end of season playoffs.

Solent Stars: E. Moore 26, A. Bright 23, C. Milner 13, N. O’Harabe 11, B. Stanley 6, J. Wilkins 4, M. Godfrey 4, P. Young 2.
London Leopards: J. Campbell 23, C. Fowler 21, D. Ogilvie 17, J. Ikhinmwin 15, J. Nicholson 7, E. Seaman 4.

10 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 112 (21, 48, 74)
SHEFFIELD ARROWS 107 (25, 58, 88)

Solent Stars' “never say die” attitude saw them pull off an unlikely win over the Sheffield Arrows at Fleming Park on Saturday night. Despite being down by fourteen points at the end of the third quarter they came back to overhaul the arrows in the final minutes with a three pointer from Earl Moore and two free throws from Nick O’Harabe sealing the win. However, it was American Antonio “Stix” Bright who was the star of the show for Solent scoring a personal season high of 43 points to lead the Stars to victory. Solent, already without injured captain Ryan Payne, suffered another blow before the match as their influential centre Paul Young was ruled out with a bout of flu.

As in recent weeks the Stars began sluggishly and the Arrows scored the first six points of the game through their Americans Chris McFarland and Clint Deas, but the Stars came back and the first of O’Harabe’s five three pointers in the game put them into a one point lead. The lead was shortlived and when Ambokile Bell shot a three pointer the Arrows had extended their lead to nine and were in control. Solent kept in touch with the visitors without ever threatening the lead although a three pointer from Moore and four points from Bright ensured that Sheffield only lead by four at the end of the quarter. 21 – 25

McFarland netted at the beginning of the second quarter but again Bright kept his side close from the free throw line and the teams traded baskets until another three from Bell and a two from McFarland stretched the Arrows lead. O’Harabe brought the Stars back to within four points with a three pointer but the Arrows threatened to pull away again as McFarland and Bell scored seven unanswered points. There was a slight momentum change towards the Stars just before half time after Arrows’ coach Pete Kelly was penalised with a controversial technical foul but Sheffield still led by ten at the half.
48 – 58

Clint Deas was once again to the fore for Sheffield at the start of the second half scoring his side’s first five points of the quarter from inside. Bright and Moore kept Solent in touch and when Clayton Milner netted half way through the quarter the Arrows lead was only four. This was as close as Solent got in the quarter, as Andre Rankine, previously playing a supporting role to his teammates, found his scoring touch and grabbed sixteen points in the quarter. His second three pointer of the quarter gave Sheffield an eleven point lead and another from McFarland saw the quarter end with the Arrows up by fourteen. 74 – 88

Things looked bleak for Solent when McFarland, who had a majestic game totalling 33 points overall, extended the lead but the Stars were not to be denied. O’Harabe sparked a mini revival with a three pointer and after Lawrie Warburg was fouled and could only convert one of his free throws the Stars went on a roll. O’Harabe again hit a three and through Bright, Moore and Milner the Stars scored eleven unanswered points to bring the lead back to one as Sheffield began to lose some of their composure, turning over the ball regularly. Bright put the Stars up by one point with three minutes to go and the lead changed hands several times before Milner scored twice to give the Stars a two pint lead.

Rankine brought the Arrows level only for Moore to break Sheffield hearts with a long three pointer with nine seconds to go. After Coach Kelly’s timeout, Rankine tried to bring the Arrows level and put the game into overtime but his shot hit the back of the rim, came out and the rebound was tipped into the hands of O’Harabe who was fouled and for the second week running O’Harabe was left to complete Solent’s win from the free throw line. Solent having been outscored by Sheffield in the previous three quarters turned the tables on their visitors winning the final quarter 38 – 19. The final score was 112 – 107

A delighted Coach Kerry Kirby remained cautious after the game. He said “I’ve told my players that I’m really proud of their performance tonight but we have stay focused if we’re to make the playoffs. All tonight’s hard work could be undone if we fail to beat Northampton tomorrow.”

Solent Stars: A. Bright 43, E. Moore 30, N. O’Harabe 22, C. Milner 12, J. Wilkins 4, K. Lawal 1.
Sheffield Arrows: C. McFarland 33, A. Rankine 28, A. Bell 17, C. Deas 12, H. Veysey 8, L. Warburg 7, P. Szafraniec 2.

11 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 98 (31, 49, 76)

Solent Stars made it two wins out of two this weekend with a 98 -90 win over the Northampton Neptunes on Sunday at Fleming Park. The win brought them level on points with Northampton who currently hold the eighth and final play off place in the league. It’s now three wins in a row for Coach Kerry Kirby’s men and those playoffs are looking more and more of a possibility with every game although other teams close to the Stars in the league are also showing improved form.

Player coach Mark Spatcher opened the scoring for the Neptunes with a three pointer but the Stars came out firing on all cylinders and scored eleven unanswered points through Antonio Bright, Clayton Milner, Nick O’Harabe - who was fouled whist scoring a three pointer and scored from the free throw - and John Wilkins. Wilkins, who is in his rookie season, is beginning to mature well and his good defensive work in particular recently has seen get some valuable court time. Alex Birch kept the Neptunes close but with Milner and Bright scoring well the Stars were able to maintain the lead. The quarter ended with Earl Moore for Solent and Mario Williams for Northampton trading three pointers. 31 – 22

6’ 9” Nathan Ball scored the first four points of the second quarter and he turned out to be a thorn in Solent’s side all afternoon as they struggled to contain him inside. Spatcher was fouled by Bright whilst shooting a three pointer but was only able to convert two and the Stars extended their lead when Ben Stanley scored a three pointer. Bright scored another three pointer in the sixth minute of the quarter but that only signalled an eight point run from Ball and Williams for Northampton and they led briefly before two baskets from O’Harabe restored Solent’s lead by half time. 49 – 46

Moore, who was struggling with a back injury, scored a three pointer at the start of the second half but once again Northampton came back and levelled the scores at 56 all. This spurred the Stars into action again and Bright, Moore and a three pointer from O’Harabe took them into a twelve-point comfort zone. Northampton persevered and kept going inside to Ball and he was scoring regularly to match Solent’s basket as the Neptunes refused to lie down. 76 – 65

Solent looked to have the match wrapped up in the first five minutes of the final quarter with Moore, Bright, and O’Harabe all scoring freely they had established a fifteen point lead but the Stars have a tendency to do everything the hard way. Spatcher put down two consecutive three point shots and the lead was reduced to nine. After O’Harabe had added another two points towards his personal total of 30, Ball scored six points sandwiched between three pointers from Birch and Spatcher and the Stars lead was down to one. Coach Kirby was concerned enough to call time out with two minutes to go and this proved to work wonders as Moore and Milner scored seven unanswered points as Northampton were forced foul to try and stop the clock. Indeed, Birch fouled out with thirty seconds to go but by then the Stars had done enough to secure the win. 98 – 90
Coach Kirby was pleased after the game saying “We obviously didn’t play with the fluency that we did on Saturday night because tiredness showed but we did enough and it’s a big win against a team that we are trying to overhaul in the playoff race.”

Solent Stars: N. O’Harabe 30, A. Bright 27, E. Moore 19, C. Milner 15, B. Stanley 5, J. Wilkins 2.
Northampton Neptunes: N. Ball 38, M. Williams 18, M. Spatcher 16, A. Birch 16, R. Caffrey 2.

18 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 75 (21, 35, 54)
PAWS LONDON CAPITALS 113 (27, 54, 84)

PAWS London Capitals ended Solent Stars recent run of wins by defeating them 75 -113 on Sunday at Fleming Park. For the Stars it was a blow to their end of season playoff hopes but there is still a lot of basketball to be played and all is not yet lost. The win for the Capitals will see them move up to sixth place by way of a better points difference than West Herts, further cementing their involvement in the play offs.

The Stars were dealt a blow midweek when their free scoring American Antonio Bright had to return to America on family business and was unavailable for the game along with recent signing Paul Young who was sidelined with a back injury. Captain Ryan Payne did return to the team after several weeks out with a knee injury, and whilst he did contribute to the Stars’ cause he was understandably rusty.

The Capitals set out their stall early and rushed into a lead whilst the Stars struggled to find their range. Whalid Mamuni was to the fore for the Capitals during the first five minutes scoring seven points which included a three pointer to give his team a six point lead. Clayton Milner and John Wilkins kept the score close for Solent and Earl Moore scored a three pointer but the Capitals through the American pairing of Marlo and Marcus Saunders were able to retain the lead despite another Solent three pointer, this time from Nick O’Harabe. 21 – 27

The Stars had the first possession of the second quarter but turned the ball over and Damien Harris extended the Capitals’ lead. Marlo Saunders scored a three pointer mid way through the quarter and that was followed by further points for the Capitals from Ryan Cadogan and Andrew Nyeko who knocked down two quick three pointers. Solent were struggling to trouble the scorers missing numerous opportunities and indeed only amassed fourteen points in the quarter. In the final minute O’Harabe did hit a three pointer but Cadogan immediately replied for the Capitals to retain their lead. 35 – 54

Marlo Saunders put the Capitals further ahead at the start of the third quarter but Moore responded with a three pointer and Milner was fouled whilst scoring and scored the resulting free throw to give Solent hope. The teams traded baskets for a while but the Capitals were able to breach the Solent defence far too easily and began to extend their lead. Moore and Milner scored for Solent but Marcus Saunders and Nyeko responded to ensure that the Capitals remained in control. Solent were obviously missing the scoring of Bright but also seemed to lack the fire that they have showed in recent weeks - in particular against Sheffield eight days previously. A seven point run for the Capitals put them up by thirty points at the end of the quarter. 54 – 84

In the final quarter the game became very open with neither team playing strong defence but this only favoured the Capitals whose shooting was superior most of the afternoon. Cadogan hit two successive three pointers and Marcus Saunders also kept the score ticking over for London with Darren Mason and Milner doing likewise for Solent. Moore reduced the arrears slightly with three minutes left in the game but by that time the match was beyond Solent. Marlo Saunders three pointer took the Capitals over the one hundred mark as Coach Kerry Kirby for Solent gave some of his bench players an opportunity for valuable court time. Liam Mitchell and Gavin Frecklington were both fouled whilst shooting and managed to score three of the four free throws between them but that signalled an eleven point unanswered run for the Capitals to finish the game. Indeed Marcus Saunders intercepted a Solent pass to go to the basket for a spectacular slam dunk for the final two points. 75 – 113

The Stars have a busy weekend next week, making the long trip to Tees Valley on Saturday and then return to play Coventry on Sunday in a game the will be played at Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth (8.00pm tip off)

Solent Stars: E. Moore 21, C. Milner 17, N. O’Harabe 16, D. Mason 9, J. Wilkins 6, R. Payne 3, G. Frecklington 2, L. Mitchell 1.
PAWS London Capitals: Marcus Saunders 25, Marlo Saunders 19, A. Nyeko 15, R. Cadogan 14, S. Ataha 13, W. Mamuni 13, D. Harris 11, C. DaSilva 3.

24 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 87 (18, 38, 65)
TEES VALLEY MOHAWKS 80 (20, 34, 63)

Solent Stars secured their first away win of the season on Saturday night after making the long journey to Middlesbrough to play the Tees Valley Mohawks. It’s Solent’s first double of the season having beaten the Mohawks at home in November and is another giant step for the Stars in their quest for the end of season playoffs. The Stars were down by two at the end of the first quarter but came back to control the game despite the loss of in-form Nick O’Harabe mid way through the second quarter.

The Mohawks obviously had their problems as their influential American star E.J. Harrison, who has been out for a couple of weeks with an ankle injury, was suited up for the game but did not start and in the end and took no part in the game. It was left to his fellow American Kenny Roberts to take up the mantle for the Mohawks and his first shot rimmed but Solent were immediately called for a travel. The Stars seemed un-nerved by the slow pace that the Mohawks were setting but after a three pointer by Kehinde Roberts, Nick O’Harabe scored their first points nearly three minutes into the game.

Earl Moore scored to put the Stars up 6 – 3 but Roberts soon levelled the scores. Moore then missed a three pointer and the Stars shooting became erratic. The Mohawks surged into the lead with a turnover from Clayton Milner and an intercepted pass both being converted. The Stars came back to retake the lead but a three pointer from Kehinde Roberts regained the lead once more for Tees Valley. O’Harabe scored a two from the corner as the quarter ended to keep the score close. 20 – 18

The Mohawks’ coach, Creon Raftopolous, was called for a technical foul early in the second quarter for disputing a “non call” under the Stars’ basket. Moore scored 1 from 2 from the free throws and O’Harabe was fouled and did likewise from the resulting possession. Indeed Kunle Lawal was then fouled and he also scored only one from two of his free throws and it began to look like missed free throws would cost Solent dear. However, Moore and fellow American Antonio Bright had other ideas and they fed their colleagues for several easy lay ups to establish a lead before Bright himself began to trouble the scorers as Solent began to control the game.

The Stars suffered the injury blow when O’Harabe had to leave the court and this seemed to upset their rhythm as Tees Valley scored six unanswered points before Bright was fouled whilst scoring. His successful free throw was followed by a steal which resulted in Bright producing a slam dunk which put the Stars up by ten but the Mohawks came back again and when Kehinde Roberts hit a long two the lead was reduced to four just before half time. 34 – 38

Milner was fouled soon after the restart but only scored one from two free throws but Paul Young was left free under the basket for two quick scores and the Stars had lead of nine. Bright intercepted a Mohawks’ pass and fed Moore for two more but Kenny Roberts kept his team in the game with a three pointer. The Stars were rocked a little when Moore fouled Kehinde Roberts and he scored one of two free throws which was followed by a two from Tayo Odulaya. Indeed they were fortunate to survive moments later when the Mohawks were unable to convert an intercepted pass. In the final minute of the quarter Lawal lost the ball and was called for an intentional foul. David Hanson converted one from two free throw and Odulaya scored a three pointer but Moore responded likewise immediately for the Stars who then held a four point lead. Ryan Payne fouled Kenny Roberts who scored both free throws but the quarter ended in controversy when Bright appeared to get off a long three pointer before the buzzer but it was ruled out by the referees. 63 – 65

Leon Bernard levelled the scores for the Mohawks in the final quarter but as the nerves set in a little both teams began to turn over the ball. The Stars had established a seven point lead and must have been pleased if not a little confused to see the Mohawks’ danger man, Kenny Roberts, take a seat on the bench for a couple of minutes midway through the quarter. In that time they had little problem in maintaining their lead and although he did re-enter the game to knock down a three pointer it was all a bit too late for the Mohawks.

Payne, who is still regaining match fitness after injury, fouled out just before the end but the Stars could even afford for Moore to miss two free throws with fourteen seconds to go. This was not really in keeping with the rest of Moore’s game on the night as he showed his best for securing double figures in rebounds and assists as well as hitting 26 points in the game. 80 – 87

Coach Kerry Kirby who told his players before the game to “play hard and not give up on any possession” was delighted after the game. “It’s great to get our first road win,” he said. “We had a long journey to get here but the players responded well and deserved their win, but we now have to focus on another win tomorrow against Coventry which would mean a playoff place is within our grasp.”

Tees Valley Mohawks: Kenny Roberts 24, T. Odulaya 18, Kehinde Roberts 11, L. Barnard 9, F. Tebo 7, H. Panzo 4, C. Colmer 3, M. Thompson 3, D. Hanson 1.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 26, A. Bright 25, P. Young 12, C. Milner 11, N. O’Harabe 7, R. Payne 3, K. Lawal 3.

25 February 2007

SOLENT STARS 87 (18, 40, 63)
COVENTRY CRUSADERS 90 (22, 40, 65)

Coach Kerry Kirby was left bitterly disappointed on Sunday evening as his Solent Stars team threw away a chance to virtually guarantee a playoff place when the lost a thriller to the Coventry Crusaders at The Mountbatten Centre. The Stars appeared in buoyant mood after their excellent win against Tees Valley the night before, but a lack of intensity during the game and some poor shooting allowed Coventry to pull off an unexpected but deserved win. How much the team were affected by the previous day’s travelling and the loss of Nick O’Harabe to a knee injury is difficult to judge but Coventry, who had also played on Saturday, albeit at home, produced the more measured performance on the night.

Coventry may have been delayed by traffic on their way to the game but it didn’t show in their play as the game started and they raced into a 6 – 0 lead through their Americans Sam Oatman, Scott Neely and veteran Dip Donaldson. The Stars struggled with their shooting, and it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the quarter, with Coventry leading by ten, that Antonio Bright scored a burst of seven unanswered points to bring the Stars back into the game. Serge Ndoumbe then scored a three pointer, his only points of the game, as Coventry kept control in the final minute of the quarter. 18 – 22

In the second quarter the teams began to rain in three pointers. Ryan Payne, almost back to his best after injury, Bright and two from Earl Moore, were countered by one from Neely and this put the Stars up by six points half way through the quarter. Oatman for Coventry, however, was having another of his inspired games and he brought the Crusaders close with several drives through the Stars defence until, in the final minute of the half, he was fouled and his two free throws levelled the scores. 40 – 40

The teams traded baskets early in the third quarter with neither team being able to establish a lead, however, with Donaldson working hard under the basket and a couple of three pointers by Oatman, Coventry did eventually manage to pull away but once again the Stars rallied. Paul Young, Bright and three point play from Payne brought them close and then, after Oatman had scored, a three pointer from Ben Stanley reduced the lead to one point. Malik Omar and Donaldson responded for the Crusaders but another three pointer, this time from Payne, kept the Stars within two at the end of the quarter. 63 – 65

Neely for Coventry found his range in the final quarter and his three big three pointers in the first five minutes of the quarter threatened to see Coventry home to a comfortable win. Solent had to draw on all their resources, and Payne, Young, and Bright brought them back closer - but Neely then hit yet another three to keep Coventry in front. It was a frantic final minute with the Stars playing more aggressive defence to try and steal the ball. This began to work and the reduced the arrears to two despite, on one occasion, Clayton Milner intercepting a pass and being unable to hold on to the ball and allowing it to slip agonisingly out of play. The Stars also had fouls to give and this tactic did work as Coventry only converted four of eight free throws in the final minute, although it did cost them the services of Payne who fouled out with seconds to go. Stanley scored another big three pointer to bring the Stars back to three in between Coventry’s free throws but on the last play of the game a long three point attempt from Moore, which would have put the game into overtime, hit the back board, came down on the rim of the basket and out to leave Coventry with the three point win.

It was a thrilling encounter and Coventry, after their mauling at home to Worthing the previous night, were delighted but it leaves the Stars in the eighth and final playoff place with three teams only one win behind them. Solent have five games left, three of which are against the top three teams in the league, and probably need to secure two more wins to guarantee their play off berth.

Solent Stars: A. Bright 25, E. Moore 17, P. Young 17, R. Payne 17, B. Stanley 6, C. Milner 3, J. Wilkins 2.
Coventry Crusaders: S. Oatman 32, S. Neely 22, M. Omar 15, D. Donaldson 10, E. Baynes-Clarke 6, S. Ndoumbe 3, S. Spare 2.

4 March 2007

SOLENT STARS 85 (16, 38, 62)
MANCHESTER MAGIC 96 (23, 48, 72)

Solent Stars failed in their bid to topple the Manchester Magic at Fleming Park on Sunday. Despite keeping the game close they were unable to find a way to unlock Manchester’s strangle hold on the game which they had established early in the game.

Antonio Bright once again led Solent’s scorers but it was fellow American John Cagianello responded with six three pointers for Manchester in his personal total of 22.

As is their way at the moment Solent started slowly and Manchester established a 7 – 2 lead before Captain Ryan Payne hit a three pointer to bring the Stars back into the game. Cagianello responded likewise immediately for Manchester and Steve Hastings and Matt Miller extended their lead. Bright then took up the mantle for the Stars and, after Clayton Milner had scored, he hit a three pointer to bring the scores level. Andrew Mackay put the Magic back into the lead but Clayton Milner after being fouled failed to bring Solent level again when he missed both his free throws. Indeed Solent missed nine free throws in all on the day and this proved costly, no more so than in this incidence when Steve Boonham and Stefan Gill were able to put the Magic in the lead by seven at the end of the quarter. 16 – 23

The first half of the second quarter belonged to Manchester and in particular to Matt Hogarth who, along with Stefan Gill, was able to power Manchester in to a thirteen point lead. Bright went on a run and scored Solent’s next 10 points but even he managed to miss two free throws during that run and his disappointment was there for all to see. As the game entered the last minute of the half Ben Stanley hit a big three for Solent only for Cagianello to do likewise for Manchester on the very next play. Once again the free throw curse struck for Solent as Payne then missed two more as the half came to an end. 38 – 48

At the start of the second half Solent began to play some more aggressive defence which proved effective and Nick O’Harabe was fouled whilst shooting for three after a steal and he converted the three free throws. Earl Moore then reduced the arrears even further but Manchester responded and when Andrew Mckay hit a three pointer their lead was back to ten points three minutes into the quarter. Moore took it on for Solent to counter another three pointer from Cagianello and when O’Harabe hit a three Solent were within six only for Cagianello once again not to be denied and he hit two of his own to retain the ten point lead for the Magic 62 – 72

Solent threatened once again in the final quarter as the team traded baskets but they couldn’t manage to get closer than six points - mainly because they couldn’t stop Matt Hogarth going through the middle of their defence and this he did to great effect with four consecutive baskets that pretty much killed the game. Solent to their credit did keep going and O’Harabe hit another three pointer, Moore two free throws, and Bright a two before they resorted to long three pointers to try and reduce the deficit. Bright fouled out with seconds to go and Payne did hit a three pointer but Matt Miller finished off the game for Manchester from the free throw line. 85 – 96

Coach Kerry Kirby was disappointed at the end of the game ruing too many missed free throws and missed layups by his team which he said was “particularly frustrating when you get that close to a very capable team that are challenging for the title.”

Solent Stars: A. Bright 28, E. Moore 18, R. Payne 15, N. O’Harabe 15, C. Milner 4, B. Stanley 3, P. Young 2.
Manchester Magic: M. Hogarth 23, J. Cagianello 22, S. Hastings 12, M. Miller 12, S. Gill 10, A. Thompson 5, S. Boonham 5, A. Mackay 5, G. Major 2.

10 March 2007

SOLENT STARS 65 (18, 30, 43)
READING ROCKETS 88 (27, 52, 88)

The Reading Rockets, who are currently in a rich vein of form, powered over Solent Stars on Saturday night at Fleming Park to record a comfortable win. For the Stars, coach Kerry Kirby was disappointed at the loss but said “I’m glad the players didn’t crumble, they kept battling and reduced the deficit by winning the final quarter.” Antonio Bright once again led the scoring for the Stars but it was another case of missed opportunities for the Stars that restricted their scoring.

The Stars, unlike in recent matches, began the game well with American Star Earl Moore scoring eight of their first ten points in the first five minutes of the game. But Reading were not to de denied and three pointers from Peder Madsen and Ryan Williams accompanied by a two point basket and a free throw from Steve Humphreys put them up by five soon after. A Paul Young two with three minutes to go in the quarter brought the Stars back to just one point down, but Reading - with Williams and Humphreys going inside and Richard Wellings finally finding his range with a big three pointer - stretched the lead again and the Stars were unable to score again in the quarter. 18 – 27

Captain Ryan Payne hit a big three pointer to reduce the deficit two minutes in to the second quarter as both teams struggled to find the basket, but Williams responded with a three of his own and this signalled a run of 13 unanswered points for Reading which also included a second three from Williams. Bright began to forge his way through the Rockets defence for the Stars to keep them in touch but Williams, who was the MVP in the National Trophy final last week against Worthing, matched him all the way to maintain Reading’s lead. 30 – 52

Humphreys, who was having a strong game under the basket, extended the Rockets lead at the start of the second half. Bright with six points and Moore with a three pointer were the high lights for the Stars in the quarter as they struggled to trouble the scorers totalling only 13 points in the quarter. The game’s statistics support the fact that they were receiving little help from the referees under the basket as they were unable to get off clean shots with Reading receiving only 15 fouls in the game against Solent’s 22. Reading - needless to say - were ticking their score along nicely with David Watts and Wellings coming to the fore for the Rockets. 43 – 71

With Williams struggling with an injury Reading had introduced Steve Vear into the game in the third and he began to control the game for the Rockets as the final quarter started. Solent controversially lost the services of Young two minutes into the quarter when he fouled out, but Payne with five points and Ben Stanley with a big three pointer reduced the deficit for the Stars. As before, this only signalled a Reading run and through Simon Kearney, James Cook, Daniel McKay and Humphreys they had extended their lead to 32 points with only two minutes to go. Solent refused to give up however, and with two more three pointers from Stanley, four more points from Bright, and a fade away two point shot from Liam Mitchell they managed to get closer to the Rockets who could only manage three points in the last two minutes. 65 – 88

Solent have a massive weekend coming up with a home match against King’s Lynn on Saturday (Mountbatten Centre, 8.00pm) and away to Northampton on Sunday which will decide whether or not they will take part in the end of season play offs. They will need to win both matches to be sure but depending on other results one win may be enough.

Solent Stars: A. Bright 29, E. Moore 11, B. Stanley 9, R. Payne 8, P. Young 6, C. Milner 2.
Reading Rockets: S. Humphreys 21, R. Williams 21, D. Watts 13, J. Cook 10, R. Wellings 8, P. Madsen 6, D. McKay 5, S. Vear 3, S. Kearney 1.

17 March 2007

SOLENT STARS 118 (25, 50, 88)
KING'S LYNN FURY 111 (25, 50, 75)

Solent Stars overcame the King’s Lynn Fury in a thrilling encounter at the Mountbatten Centre, Portsmouth on Saturday night. With both teams and the scores evenly matched in the first half the Stars had a big third quarter to pull away only for the Fury to pull back the deficit and set up an exciting end to match. Indeed, if Hank Rivers’ slam dunk had gone in with around 4 minutes to go in the game the Fury would have retaken the lead and the outcome could have been very different.

Coach Kirby had selection problems before the game, having 14 players available to play - a very unusual situation for the Stars and some may have been querying his choices as the Fury controlled the first quarter. Diminutive American point guard Lawrence Summers showed his intentions early by steering King’s Lynn into an 18 – 10 lead in the first five minutes on his way to seventeen points in the quarter. Captain Ryan Payne, Paul Young and Clayton Milner dragged the Stars back into the game and a slam dunk from Antonio Bright put them into the lead. Two free throws from Summers brought the Fury level but Milner and Earl Moore re-established the Stars lead only for Summers to hit a three pointer and two free throws to put the Fury up by one point. One of two free throws from Nick O’Harabe levelled the scores at the end of the quarter. 25 – 25

The story was much the same in the second quarter with Moore, Bright and O’Harabe putting the Stars in the lead before Summers hit the first of seven King’s Lynn three pointers in the quarter to level the scores once more. Player Coach James Bamfield hit a three and Summers again did likewise to put the Fury in the lead but the Stars suddenly found a way into the heart of the Fury’s defence and Young picked up three quick baskets. Richard Milbourne and Moore traded three pointers and Moore followed up by edging the Stars into a lead they would have kept until half time but for two three pointers, one each from Summers and fellow American Hank Rivers for the Fury. 54 – 54

At the beginning of the second half neither side could establish a lead but eventually the Stars moved ahead with Moore to the fore, having his best scoring game for the Stars in recent weeks. He was supported by Payne and Bright and it was they who saw the Stars into a thirteen point lead going into the last quarter. A defiant three pointer from the corner by Richard Milbourne kept the Fury in the game but Moore and O’Harabe had the Stars up by the end of the quarter. 88 – 75

An O’Harabe three at the start of the final quarter seemed to set the Stars on the way to a comfortable win but King’s Lynn had other ideas. First a run of ten unanswered points brought them back to within ten of the Stars and after Moore had sent Solent over the 100 mark, the Fury had another seven point run to reduce the lead to only one. They lost the chance to take the lead when Rivers missed the slam dunk and despite some ugly turnovers the Stars never looked back. Bright and Milner put them in front and when O’Harabe matched Summers three pointer as the game went into the last minute the Stars had a four point lead which they were able to extend to seven in the final minute. 118 – 111

The win was Solent’s sixth of the season and drew them level with Coventry in the race for the play-offs but with Coventry holding the advantage in the head-to heads this season Solent will require another victory to overtake them.

Solent Stars: E. Moore 36, A. Bright 28, N. O’Harabe 17, R. Payne 16, C. Milner 13, P. Young 8.
King’s Lynn Fury: L. Summers 39, H. Rivers 34, R. Milbourne 16, J. Bamfield 14, L. Fisher 6, P. Manifold 2.

18 March 2007

SOLENT STARS 100 (22, 51, 77)

Solent Stars’ match against Northampton tipped off 35 minutes late after the team was delayed trying to find the Lings Forum Leisure Centre. However, after an understandably slow start to the game they were able to overcome the Northampton Neptunes and record their second away win of the season. It takes them one step closer to the end of season play-offs as, with their seventh win of the season, Solent will reclaim eighth place in the league from Coventry who lost on Sunday away at the Manchester Magic.

Only a success for Coventry next week against the West Herts Warriors will deny the Stars a play-off berth as that would put Coventry on seven wins also and they have the head to head advantage from the meetings between the two teams this season.

With little time to warm up before the game the Stars looked a bit lethargic at the start but their luck looked to be in when Mark Spatcher’s first attempt at a three pointer rimmed out. The teams traded baskets before Northampton broke the deadlock through Mario Williams and Joe Reynoso. Earl Moore hit two free throws but the Neptunes came back with Nathan Ball getting two quick baskets and Williams hitting a three. Antonio Bright intercepted a pass but couldn’t convert the play and as the Stars struggled to find their form and Ryan Payne also missed a three pointer. Spatcher and Williams put the Neptunes up by 15 points but Bright reduced the deficit and when Clayton Milner missed two free throws Nick O’Harabe grabbed the rebound scored to bring the Stars back to eleven. 33 – 22

Things began to look bleak for the Stars when Spatcher hit a three pointer to extend the lead but Moore hit two of his own in successive plays to keep the Stars in the game. Williams hit a three and the Neptunes had 50 points on the board before half way through the quarter. Bright then made a steal and finished off with one of his trademark spectacular slam dunks which brought the Stars up to within seven points but Spatcher hit another three pointer to restore the Neptunes ten point lead at half time. 61 – 51

Moore missed a three point attempt at the beginning of the second half but this did not deter Solent who went on a run of ten unanswered points to level the game - but at the crucial point they couldn’t manage the basket that would have given them the lead and Ball tipped in the ball from a rebound to put the Neptunes back in front. Eventually a Payne three pointer did put the Stars in front and with Solent playing better defence in the second half Northampton missed numerous chances to retake the lead. The quarter ended in chaos as Spatcher fouled Bright who took offence and threw the ball at him which made Spatcher react. Both players were given technical fouls but unfortunately for Spatcher that combined with the original foul saw him accumulate five fouls and he had to leave the game. Almost immediately O’Harabe was also called for technical foul for dissent and this left Reynoso to level the scores for Northampton. 77 – 77

The Stars picked up their game in the final quarter with O’Harabe, Moore and Bright surging them into a ten point lead and things got worse for Northampton when Reynoso fouled out of the game with six and a half minutes to go leaving them with only five available players. Solent did miss chances to kill of the game but began to run out the 24 second clock on each possession and Northampton were unable to put together a run of points when they had the ball, with Joe Gale missing a couple of three pointers. Williams did hit a three in the final minute but was then called for an unsportsmanlike foul on O’Harabe. He converted both free throws to take Solent to the 100 mark for the second match in a row. Williams fouled out with 15 seconds to go leaving Northampton to play the final seconds of the match with only four players but by then Solent had the game won. 94 – 100

Coach Kirby was delighted with the win confirming his “faith in the team” and it will be a mark of achievement for him if Solent do make the play-offs since they have been unable to do so for a number of years now.

Northampton Neptunes: M. Williams 25, N. Ball 24, J. Reynoso 19, M. Spatcher 14, N. Adams 10, J. Gale 2.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 29, N. O’Harabe 21, A. Bright 20, C. Milner 12, R. Payne 10, P. Young 8.

25 March 2007

WORTHING THUNDER 129 (21, 55, 105)
SOLENT STARS 108 (26, 55, 76)

The Worthing Thunder showed why they were crowned Champions at the weekend when they produced an extraordinary second half display to blow away the Solent Stars in the final league match of the regular season. However, in a game that was a rehearsal for next Saturday’s play-off game, coach Kerry Kirby decided to let the game play out rather than show all his cards before the more important game next Saturday.

The Stars qualified for the play-offs on Saturday even though they were not playing a competitive game. Whilst the Stars played a friendly at Fleming Park on Saturday, the Coventry Crusaders were losing at home to UH West Herts Warriors which left them on six wins, one behind Solent and confirming eighth place for the Stars and qualifying them for the play-offs. It’s the first time in four years that Solent have qualified for the play-offs and is quite an achievement for coach Kirby who had to virtually put together a new team upon his arrival from America. It has taken some time for the team to develop, which was not helped by a fixture list that saw the team play most of its away fixtures in the first half of the season.

On Sunday at Worthing both teams began the game with some of their staring five on bench for various reasons and the move seemed to backfire on Worthing coach Gary Smith in the first quarter. With the scores level at 2 apiece two minutes into the game the Stars went on a sixteen point unanswered run which included the first of Earl Moore’s seven three pointers in the game. Janis Ivanovskis finally ended the Thunder’s drought with 4:21 left in the quarter and that signalled a revival from Worthing. A 16-2 run saw the Thunder cut Solent’s lead to two which was partly due to the Stars’ frailty as after a Dan Midgley three they turned over the ball, fouled Ivanovskis whilst scoring, and allowed Alfredo Ott to collect the rebound and score a two. Antonio Bright and Moore restored Solent’s lead to six before Ott scored a big three pointer with twenty seconds to go in the quarter. 21 – 26

Moore was on fire in the second quarter, firing in a two and four successive three pointers to keep the Stars in front and when Ben Stanley also hit a three six minutes into the quarter it looked like the Stars would hold a comfortable lead at the half. The Thunder had other ideas with Ott in fine form and Pat Bates now working his magic inside they came back to level the scores at halftime as Ryan Marrast scored with a impressive fade away shot. 55 – 55

Worthing average about 35 points a game in the third quarter and they were in the mood to improve on that as the third quarter started. The Stars had no answer to Pat Bates inside and the three point shooting of Ott and fellow American Marcus Avant and Worthing stretched their lead to twenty three with four minutes to go in the quarter. Coach Kirby declined to change his defence in view of next Saturday’s game and whilst the Stars were struggling to score they were unable to stop Worthing, being regularly out rebounded and the Thunder amassed 50 points in the quarter when Midgley hit two free throws. 105 – 76

With the result decided, the final quarter was more of training session as both sides went on a shooting practice style of play. Solent did have some success and Moore hit two three pointers and a three point play as the Stars reduced the lead to nineteen - and as always the Stars did keep going until the end. It seemed quite fitting that the final two points of the game were scored by Earl Moore who completed a 44 point haul in the game. The Stars were well beaten but as usual when these two teams play it was hugely entertaining game. 129 – 108

Coach Kirby will be working with the team during the week to see if they can find ways of stopping the Thunder in next Saturday’s game but is delighted to have seen his team into the play-offs regardless of the result in next weekend’s game.

Worthing Thunder: A. Ott 31, P. Bates 30, J. Ivanovskis 26, M. Avant 15, D. Midgely 8, D. Hidreth 7, R. Marrast 4, O. Ugbana 4, D. Shotton 2, C. Burns 1, M. Addy 1.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 44, A. Bright 29, P. Young 11, R. Payne 11, B. Stanley 6, D. Mason 3, L. Mitchell 2, J. Wilkins 2.

31 March 2007

SOLENT STARS 102 (26, 52, 72)
WORTHING THUNDER 115 (28, 58, 92)

Solent Stars’ season ended on Saturday night when they lost their play-off game against the champion Worthing Thunder in Worthing on Saturday night. Coach Kerry Kirby, however, was extremely proud of his players who gave the champions plenty to think about as, on a night charged with emotion, they played with passion and desire to win that saw them go down by only 13 points against a team that had only lost one league game during the regular season. Once again they were led by their American duo of Earl Moore and Antonio Bright, who many believe are the best American pairing in the league, but it was a team effort that got them close to pulling off a major shock.

The two teams had played out an exciting but casual encounter the previous Sunday but this game was always going to have a greater intensity. At the beginning of the game both teams seemed nervous and there were a number of un-pressured turnovers. A three pointer from Antonio Bright brought the scores level after three and a half minutes but already Janis Ivanoskis was setting out his stall and had hauled in 9 points in the first four minutes for Worthing on his way to a 37 point personal total. Ivanovskis and Pat Bates were getting success inside for the Thunder but it was a big three pointer from Marcus Avant that gave them a five point lead. Bright was fouled but his shot wouldn’t fall and he had to score two from the free throw line as Solent held the Thunder close. After Bates had increased his total to ten for the quarter Solent captain Ryan Payne hit a three followed up by another two to level the scores again inside the last minute. Solent missed opportunities to take the lead and it was left to Avant to score two free throws to complete the quarter. 28 – 26

Good defence from the Stars at the start of the second quarter led to a Moore steal allowing him to level the scores. A slam dunk from Bright kept the Stars in it but a three from Avant and another soon after from captain James Brame saw Worthing extend the lead to ten points. Solent refused to lie down, however, and three pointers from Nick O’Harabe and Ben Stanley followed by a six point unanswered run from Moore saw them back within three points of the champions. Solent contributed to their own downfall, however, by allowing Avant to get free and hit a three pointer on the buzzer. 58 – 52

The second half started peculiarly with O’Harabe being called for a travelling violation only to score the first two points of the half after a turnover. The game began to get a little scrappy with more turnovers by both sides but successive three pointers from Avant and Ivanovskis saw Worthing pull away. Solent struggled to hold on to the Thunder and were dealt another blow two minutes from the end of the quarter. Clayton Milner was called for an off the ball foul on Bates whilst Avant was shooting a three. The referees conferred and gave Worthing both the three points and the free throws despite Avant’s shot being a second or two after the whistle for the foul. This allowed Worthing to extend the lead to 18 and despite a three pointer from Moore for Solent, they extended that lead to twenty when Avant was again allowed to knock down a three pointer on the buzzer. 92 - 72

Moore took on the mantle of dragging the Stars back into the game in the final quarter as he hit four big three pointers in the first three minutes of the quarter. The last of those three pointers was followed by another by Payne in the midst of an eleven point run by the Stars. Worthing coach Gary Smith called a time out and reintroduced Alfredo Ott and Pate Bates into the game. Ott had been restricted by the Stars after his 31 point haul the week before but to his credit he had played well for the Thunder whilst his team mates had done most of the scoring. Bright, however, brought the Stars back to seven but a run of six points from Ivanovskis and Brame effectively sealed the win for the Thunder inside the last two minutes. Bright scored the last two points of Solent’s season and with 27 seconds left coach Kirby called time out and allowed his bench players to play out the game. 115 – 102

It was always going to be a mountain for the Stars to climb to pull off the shock against the champions but the fact that they pushed the Thunder hard is a sign of the progress the team has made this season under coach Kirby. A side almost completely brand new at the start of the season has matured enough to make the play-offs and give the best team in the league a highly competitive game.

Worthing Thunder: J. Ivanovskis 37, M. Avant 34, A. Ott 15, J. Brame 13, P. Bates 10, D. Midgley 4, C. Burns 2.
Solent Stars: E. Moore 36, A. Bright 27, N. O’Harabe 14, R. Payne 10, C. Milner 8, P. Young 4, B. Stanley 3.

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