Durham Wildcats 91, Mersey Tigers 71
By Ryan Gillham
It was a deserved 91-71 victory for Durham in a heated encounter against basement side Mersey Tigers at the Newton Aycliffe Leisure Centre in what was a must win game for the Wildcats.
The game started in fine fashion for the home side that went on an early 6-0 run as a struggling Tigers side found it hard to find the basket, but it wasn’t to last long for the Wildcats with some poor defence letting the visitors back into the game as the lead changed hands with Mersey taking a winning position.
The game progressed quickly as both sides started to trade baskets just before a run by the Wildcats opened up a lead of six points as the first period ended 23-17.
A positive display on offence from the Wildcats took the game to the visitors and Durham started making shots from deep, creating a 12-0 run to take the score at 31-17.
The run of fortune was to change hands midway through the second as the Tigers went on a 6-0 of their own but it wasn’t to dampen the spirits of the Wildcats side as they closed out the half with a 19 point lead, 46-27.
It was a bright start to the third for the visitors as they looked to close the gap on the Wildcats, bringing the score back to within 11 points but Mike Baldarelli and Keith Page were out to spoil the party. They opened up the gap once again to make it a 19 point ball game to place them in a comfortable position as the third ended 67-48.
Sam Chambers made a strong first appearance of the season for the Wildcats, scoring the opening points in the final quarter which set Durham in good stead for the rest of the game.
The Wildcats confidence was really showing as they played some nice flowing basketball, and the Tigers starting to show some frustration when Bucci threw a huge fake, sending Gael Hulsen to the ground and finishing with a lay-up making it a 21 point ball game at 85-71.
The game got really heated shortly after as captain Bucci fouled the Tigers Rudy Etilopy, which then led the Mersey player to make an unsportsmanlike foul which caused an outburst on the court from both teams. It wasn’t to spoil the game for the Wildcats, though, as Chambers scored two from the free throw line to put the nail in the coffin to hand the Wildcats their first home win of the season.
Coach Elderkin spoke about how important it was to win the game today and claim their first home win of the season.
“It was a must needed win,” he said. “It was a good performance but we were soft on defence today and we need to improve quickly if we are to compete inside, but I am very happy with the win and I am happy with the team’s performance.”
M.V.P – Andrew Keister; 18 points and 9 Rebounds.
Durham Wildcats – Andrew Keister; 18 points, 9 rebounds. Keith Page; 18 points, 4 assists.
Mersey Tigers – Rudy Etilopy 27 points, 14 rebounds. Joshua McGinn; 14 points, 3 assists.