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Coventry Crusaders (54) 91
Kingston Wildcats (51) 94

Coventry Bupa Crusaders just missed out in this tight encounter in the first of a two-leg National Trophy clash with the Division One side from London.

The Crusaders were off to a good start in the first quarter, Adam Stevens was on fire and scored 11 points, closely followed by Derrick Pope with 8 points.

The quarter ended, however with Kingston close on the heels of the Crusaders heels, 25-24.

The second quarter was another close call, Crusaders pulling ahead, with the Wildcats hanging on for dear life and never quite letting the Crusaders out of their sight.

Several Crusader players were already in foul trouble by the half time interval, but they managed to go out for the break with a three point lead.

After the half time break the Wildcats came back to play with increased intensity while the Crusaders seemed to lose some of their edge and only managed to score ten points in ten minutes.

The Wildcats scored freely on fast break opportunities and as they penetrated the Crusader defence.

Jamie Whitaker and Jordan Ramagge did most of the damage for the Wildcats, and Crusaders slipped to a ten point deficit by the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was an example of pure basketball excitement.  At the start of the quarter the Crusaders were still not defending well, although they did manage to put points in the basket. 

The Wildcats continued their rampage, and led by as much as 17 points at one point.

Coach Donaldson made some substitutions from his bench, and the quick style defence of Dominic Davis, the steals and rebounding from Eduard Girbal and Colin Rhooms’ efforts around the basket gave the Crusaders just the motivation they needed to make a comeback.

As the minutes ticked away the deficit decreased so that within the last minute the Crusaders had cut the Wildcats lead to six points.

In the dying seconds of the game Crusaders’ Stevens and Sharland both managed a spectacular dunk apiece, and the game ended with Crusaders losing by three, but the screaming supporters left feeling they had watched a decent game of basketball after all.

Losing the National Trophy game has made the match next weekend again with Kingston even more crucial.

The Crusaders now know they must win, and win by a margin of at least four points.

Coach Dip Donaldson said:

"I am delighted with our high score - that means we are not having trouble putting the ball in the basket.

“This game was one of our highest scoring games. The problem is we didn’t do the job needed on the defensive end of the floor.

“Allowing opponents to score in the 90s is bad news for Crusader defence. We have our work cut out for us this week. We have got to stay focused and motivated.  We either win this next game or we are out of the competition.

“I’m certainly not preparing for that to happen, and I believe the squad of guys we have this season will rise to the challenge and get the job done.”

Scorers for Crusaders: Girbal 2, Davis 5, Sharland 8, Rhooms 11, Collins 14, D.Pope 15, Stevens 36.

Scorers for Wildcats: Jones 7, Orelaja 7, Rich 8, Hoynton 13, Jeremiah 14, Ramagge 18, Whitaker 27.
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CWN / Sport / Basketball / Coventry Crusaders / 30 Oct 00
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