Sledgehammers strengthen their position

FOLLOWING the most recent matches, the outcome of the Suffolk Senior League title is still undecided, although Brightlingsea Sledgehammers strengthened their position at the top by defeating previously unbeaten Bury Bulldogs.

FOLLOWING the most recent matches, the outcome of the Suffolk Senior League title is still undecided, although Brightlingsea Sledgehammers strengthened their position at the top by defeating previously unbeaten Bury Bulldogs.

The sides have now one loss each and they meet again at Brightlingsea for what should be the decider.

Sledgehammers could only manage six players for their trip to Bury and started second favourites, while Bury were without Gary Gaines but welcomed Aaron Caldwell back to the squad.

Bulldogs had the better of the opening exchanges and were soon seven ahead with Chris Dixon, Pete Scott and Caldwell all hitting from long range.


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Sledgehammers rallied and restricted the Bury offence to just two scoring shots in a seven-minute period.

At the other end of the court Alec Ward was hitting 12 personal and the visitors were up by four after the first quarter.

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Bulldogs relied very much on their long-range game and with only two shots being successful in the next seven minutes, Sledgehammers began to pull away with Bert Scott hitting 10 personal in the second quarter.

Half time saw Sledgehammers ahead by more than 20 with Bulldogs only making five shots in the whole of the second quarter.

A strong start to the third was needed if Bulldogs were to stay in the game and they duly obliged with an 11-3 run in three minutes.

Sledgehammers responded with a run of their own and were still more than 20 ahead by the end of the quarter thanks mainly to double-digits from captain Jules Keeling.

Another run, this time 10-4, from Sledgehammers at the start of the fourth put the game beyond Bulldogs and they must now re-group for the trip to Brightlingsea for a winner-takes-all game.

California Cougars had a mathematical chance of finishing in the top two but succumbed to Holbrook Eagles, though not until the second half.

Nick Newman returned to the Eagles' line up and he was soon making his mark with eight personal in the opening quarter.

Cougars, again without player-coach Leroy Manhertz, responded with nine from Joe Rudd and six from Adam Bell and they held a narrow advantage at the end of the quarter.

John Webb came off the Eagles' bench in the second to hit eight points in a couple of minutes but with Neil Lister replying for Cougars with seven there was only three points in it at half time, in favour of the Eagles.

Cougars narrowed the gap to one point within three minutes of the re-start but Eagles put together an 11-4 run to lead by 11 at the end of the third.

A strong start to the final quarter saw Cougars narrow the gap to four before Eagles put together another run, 14-6, to pull away again for what proved to be a winning margin.

Lister finished with a game-high 23 but a big factor was the bench strengths with Eagles contributing 28 as opposed to Cougars' five.

Both teams will hope to be at full strength when they meet in the Plate final in April.

Results round-up

Holbrook Eagles 86 (Webb 22, Newman 18, N Drane 14) California Cougars 71 (Lister 23, Rudd 22, Bell 11), Bury Bulldogs 67 (P Scott 19, Caldwell 17, Dixon 15) Brightlingsea Sledgehammers 97 (A Ward 26, Keeling/R Scott 25).

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