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|Calderdale Explorers||71 99||Teesside Lions Men|
MATTHEW TOP OF THE CHARTS IN LIONS WIN
Teesside Lions Men
Saturday 25th February|
Teesside Lions stretched their unbeaten league run to 13 games this season and sit in a comfortable lead at the top of Division Three following a convincing victory at Calderdale Explorers on Saturday.
The Lions are 4pts clear of local rivals Tees Valley Mohawks with a game in hand. The race for second place will go down to the wire with Mohawks and third placed Calderdale in contention.
Against Calderdale; a potential banana peel, Teesside started strong via Eddie Matthew who made a steal and converted two shots off the dribble to give Lions a 4-0 lead.
Matt Hughes and Aaren Smith added to the tally before Eplorers were able to reply. A brace of 3’s from Hassan Haq and Rob Donaldson took the shine off the start for Lions and offered a reminder that Calderdale are a good and efficient team able to cause an upset.
Baskets were traded across the first quarter and whilst there was a sense of control in favour of Teesside the score line suggested a much closer affair at 19-22.
Ollie Hylands was introduced in the second quarter and the player coach hit 12pts in this period in addition to some solid rebounding and good passing. 3-pointers from Matt Hughes and that man again Eddie Matthew extended the lead for Lions but momentary lapses allowed Calderdale to pose a threat to the double digit cushion Teesside would have liked to maintain. Patrick Fuerzas and Stephen Towell hit 3’s to bring them within 9pts at Half Time, 41-50.
While the ability to stall the Teesside Train from moving further ahead will have given Coach Eugene Andrew and his team belief that not only were they in the game but if things went well they may challenge. In contrast Lions seemed to exude a confidence that even when challenged they had a reply.
A significant provider of assurance was Aaren Smith who had now collected three blocks and was a warm safety blanket on defence. In equal measure Eddie Matthew stripped Aziz Manyanja of the ball and then went coast to coast for his fifth steal and 18th point with another 14 minutes still to play.
Teesside were now in full control of the game, restricting the hosts to just 12pts and developing an 18pt lead, 53-71.
Heading into the final quarter Teesside produced some great team basketball and on one play saw quick ball movement finding Theo Turner for a powerful dunk.
Luke Mitchell hit 6pts in the third period and added to his tally in the fourth with 11pts including three 3’s.
Teesside used their bench in the last five minutes with Riley Anderson and 16 year old Charlie Mckenna enjoying some valuable court time, the latter hitting a 3-pointer in the last score of the game to seal a 28pt win and a clean sweep of three wins against the third placed Explorers.
The Lions enjoyed five players in double digit scoring. Captain Theo Turner was outside of this with 7pts and was happy to play a supporting role in his teammates potency.
While multiple players shone for Lions, one stood out for MVP in what was best all-round performance in a Teesside jersey. Eddie Matthew was sublime as he delivered 26pts, 6 rebounds, 7 assists & 6 steals.
Calderdale Explorers 71-99 Teesside Lions
Explorers: Donaldson 12, Kay 12, Towell 12
Lions: Matthew 26, Hughes 19, Mitchell 19, Hylands 14, Smith 11
Teesside now prepare for the third encounter with local rivals TV Mohawks as the sides meet at Eston Arena on Sunday 5th March for a 2pm tip off. Lions have the edge with two wins already and will be back on home court with an emphatic and energetic fanbase. Mohawks will be eager to rescue some pride and the result will be a great spectacle for basketball fans.
560 tickets have already gone for the game and fans can get theirs at TeessideLions.com