Just a week after getting close to Division 1 frontrunners Manchester Magic in the last 16 of the National Cup, McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods climbed to the top of Division 2 with a hard fought win over a very talented Liverpool.
The result crowned a full weekend of basketball for the club’s National League programme with wins for 4 out of their 5 teams.
The Wildcats Arena was turned into a Halloween spectacular, with many of the sell out crowd in fancy dress adding to the now famous atmosphere, but it was a very scary start to the game as Liverpool raced into a 0-11 lead, forcing Coach Phil Waghorn into calling an early timeout. The first points for the Hoods were finally only the board courtesy of Lucasz Siczek from the free throw line. Good play from Alvarro Urbistondo, Kirk Davis and Krest Anyaegbuna got the scoreboard ticking over but they still trailled 13-21 at the end of the first.
The second quarter saw a much improved performance from the Hoods with 6’8” Spaniard, Miguel Leis, stepping up with some big blocks and 9 points, assisted by Siczek and Liam Kelly. England star, Luke Mitchell found his range and Kiwi Matt Wilson, began to dominate inside. Liverpool did not roll over though and kept their own scoreboard turning until captain Kieran Wright hit three triples in a row at the end of the half to ensure the Hoods took the lead for the first time 44.39.
Hoods and Liverpool played three incredible games last season, with both teams winning their home games, but Liverpool winning bragging rights following a National Shield semi-final overtime win. Each game was close and this was to be no difference as both teams came out strongly in the second half. Leis continued where he left off, blocking a couple more Liverpool offences, before going full court to add to his own tally and stretch the Hoods lead to 9, before Liverpool replied with three triples of their own to tie the game. However, it was Nottingham’s Mitchell that had the final say in the quarter with a long range three to keep Hoods nose in front 61-58.
The final quarter was another end to end display and the very noisy home crowd could not predict the winner. Danny Wong was doing great defensive work for the Hoods and two more three pointers from Mitchell brought the crowd to their feet. After getting into early foul trouble, Wilson came through with vital points in the last stanza and Lucasz Siczek sealed the deal with the final four points for Hoods to come through with a hard fought and exciting Halloween special 80-71 victory.
Hoods Scorers: Leis & Siczek(16 each), Wright(13), Mitchell(12), Wilson(11), Anyaegbunan(4), Urbistono(3), Davis & Kelly(2 each), Wong(1). In addition there were 6 blocks for Leis.
In the Men’s Development League Hoods II also remain undefeated in the league with another exciting game against Sheffield Sabres. The team, a mixture of experience and youth led by former England assistant coach Ben Stanley, had a tough encounter going into the half with a comfortable 38-19 lead but a lacklustre third saw Sabres pull back to just 46 – 37 behind. An early run in the fourth quarter from the much fancied Sheffield outfit pulled the game back to 46-46. With Hoods II staring defeat in the face after a seeing a 19 point lead erased, the players put their foot on the gas, assisted by four consecutive dunks from Truzzel Spencer as they pulled away to take the game 70-56. They now face the long journey to League leaders Gateshead next Sunday; with both teams undefeated something has to give.
Hoods Scorers: Spencer(25),Parker(21), Golchev(7), McGregor(10), Stanley(3) Apostolidus(2), Parry(2).
Nottingham Junior Hoods Under 14’s lost by just two points missing out to Northants Thunder 83-81. The Under 16’s had a comfortable win against Leicester Warriors 76-37 whilst the under 18’s ran out 81-48 winners against Northamptonshire Titans.
The next game is Saturday at 6.30pm against London Westside.