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Teesside Lions Men 105  91 St Helens Saints


Teesside Lions Men


St Helens Saints

Sunday 24th March


2:30pm tip-off

By Jordan Clarke

A Jamie Glen 3-pointer opened proceedings for Teesside Lions against second placed St Helens and the hosts did not look back as they closed the curtain on the regular season campaign with an emphatic victory over the team two spots ahead in the league table.

Lions can be proud of their first season in Division Two. A fourth place finish and qualifying for the playoffs is a great achievement following their promotion.

American Tom Horvat and Faaris Mughal added additional 3’s for Teesside as the hosts shocked the Saints into a 9-4 lead. A powerful dunk from Ellis Evans could have tested Lions resolve, but that was brushed off as the home side continued to dominate. Kevin Ozoemelam hit a couple of free throws as he continued to give Manny Kabengele problems and a short while after he drove to the basket for a strong finish to bring the Saints within 3pts 13-10.

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Defensively Teesside were solid, but momentarily lapses on the ball and in help activation were proving a concern for the Lions Coaching staff.

A switch in momentum came following a foul committed by Mughal in the seventh minute which sent former BBL player Disraeli Lufadeju to the line for three successful free throws. With the lead cut to 3pts and then just 1pt after Lesley Iwediebo stole the ball from Glen to finish the fast break.

With seconds remaining Gaunt hit a jump shot to tie the game 21-21 but good ball movement and a buzzer-beating 3 from Noah Saa had the crowd roaring and provided a sense that the day was going to be a good one for Teesside.

Jamie Glen was next in line to heat up for Teesside. Within the opening two minutes of the second quarter, he added two more three-pointers to his tally, with two later free throws giving him an early eleven point haul.

Teesside were dominating both ends of the court in the second quarter and would outscore the visitors 35-17, to take an impressive 21pt lead over the league runners-up as the scoreboard read 59-38 at half time.

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Tom Horvat was another player enjoying a great game for Teesside as the talented American continued to torment St Helens with his offence and tenacious defence. Horvat hit 10pts in the third as the Lions held their comfortable margin whilst running their bench.

At the end of the third quarter Lions were still in control 82-64.

The Saints were not giving up as they continued to stand their ground. Will Self troubled Teesside with a nice finish inside and a 3-pointer during a Lions dry spell to bring the game within 10pts with six minutes remaining, plenty of time to build what seemed an unlikely come-back.

The spell was broken however when Luke Mitchell collected his seventh assist when he found Glen for the smooth finish. Mitchell then teased his defender out of the perimeter to blow by for a nice left handed finish.

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The incredible Teesside support was again evident and the Lions fans were lapping up the spectacle as the game drew to a close. Roars were heard as Mughal took Teesside over the 100pt mark via another Mitchell assist.

Conatyn and Self managed to reduce the lead to 14pts but Teesside were happy to have rotated their squad, dominated the vast majority of the game and plugged leaks relatively quickly when they sprouted.

At the end of the game Teesside were excellent value and worthy winners, 105-91.

The Game MVP was a tussle between Jamie Glen, Luke Mithell and Tom Horvat with Horvat earning the plaudits with an impressive haul of 27pts, 5reb, 7 assists & 34 efficiency rating. Glen led rebounds with 9, while Mitchell led assists with 8.

Top Scorers

Teesside: Horvat 27, Glen 18, Mughal 16, Kabengele 14, Cousins 11

St Helens: Lufadeju 20, Self 17, Jones 15

MVP: Tom Horvat

The Lions close their inaugural Division Two season with a very impressive 13-9 record, which sees them finish in fourth place and qualify for the playoffs.

The playoffs will see Serge Bojev’s side head to Division Two South and National Cup double champions, Milton Keynes Breakers who boast a very talented and experienced squad led by high-scoring Jordan Spencer.

The game is scheduled for the weekend of 13/14th April.

Fans can stay updated via and social media platforms.

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