The McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods season came to an abrupt end as they were edged out of the play-offs by Plymouth Raiders 71-79.
After nearly 10 hours of basketball, and a run that dates back to February 2014, the Hoods impressive unbeaten home record came to an end on Saturday against a very strong Raiders team. Confidence was high going in to the game after the most successful season in Hoods history and in front of the biggest crowd of the season, as Nottingham’s Merry Men packed into the arena to cheer on their players.
Right from the outset, it was clear this was going to be an exciting game as both teams played sublime basketball, much to the delight of the crowd. Siczek was impressive as usual, driving to the basket and sinking some mid-range jumpshots as the score boards ticked over at quite a rate for both teams. Raiders found their range early on and were knocking down 3-pointer after 3-pointer, meaning the Hoods had to work doubly hard to earn their points. Carberry and Urbistondo were working well inside for each other and a quick Siczek 2, followed by a steal put Wright on the line to the tie the scores at 20 with 3 minutes to go. In a great display of play-off basketball by both teams, it was the Raiders sharp shooting that had their noses in front at the first break 24-28.
The second quarter was more of the same as both teams continued to play at the very top of their ability. Stanley, Apostolidis and Wright were causing the visitors difficulties, whilst Wong was at his usual hustling best all over the court. A huge block by Stanley was followed by a coast to coast lay-up and the Hoods had the lead 31-28. The size differential between the two teams then started to show as, with Thompson or Dargis sidelined, the Raiders big men started to take control of the offensive boards, giving the visitors easy second chance points as they regained the lead and stretched it to 34-40 mid-way through the quarter. England u-18 star Luke Mitchell had a brief cameo after recovering from his broken wrist and showed what the Hoods had been missing with two great assists but more great long range shooting by Raiders kept the score tied at half-time 47-47.
The crowd were on their feet applauding both teams off the court as the Hoods Angels cheerleading squad entertained them. The Merry Men knew they had seen a very impressive half of basketball, with two teams throwing everything at the game.
The third quarter however was the turning point in the game as the Hoods came out of the blocks slowly and the Raiders, who towered over the Hoods players, started to make the height advantage count. Despite some great shooting from Wright and a block on the buzzer by Carberry, the Hoods were trailing 63-68 as they entered the final 10 minutes.
Nerves started to show for both teams as Raiders missed easy baskets and Hoods struggled to find a good shot, but it was Raiders rebounding that helped extend the lead mid-way through the half to 68-75. Sloppy turnovers by the Hoods handed the advantage to the visitors but another big Wright three with 37.5 seconds to go had the crowd believing at 71-77. It wasn’t to be though as Raiders closed the game out and booked their place in the semi-final, winning 71-79.
Top Scorers: Siczek 19; Urbistondo 16; Carberry 13
Club Captain Bruce Lauder commented after the game, “Obviously I am gutted for the players who gave that game everything for 3 ½ quarters, before the Raiders BBL experience shone through at the end. This was the first experience of play-off basketball for most of these players and they should be very proud of what they have achieved this year. We lost our two best players mid-way through the season and had no right to continue winning without them, but this group of players forged round each other and went on to make the semi-final of the Shield and finish runners up in an extremely competitive league. They will walk away from this game disappointed because it was a winnable game, but when they sit down in a couple of weeks and look back on this season they will be very pleased with what they have achieved. To have this great arena sold-out week after week is a tribute to the hard work and devotion these guys have shown throughout the season and I for one am looking forward to next season and whatever challenges it throws at us.”
Elsewhere, the Hoods Ladies made the Maid Marian Final with a 50-49 victory and Hoods minis, who won just one game last season, dominated all year to finish unbeaten – Nottingham Basketball’s future is looking very bright.
Nottingham Hoods are a community club with teams from under 12’s to under 18’s, they also have a women’s section.
If you would like to watch a game or become a part of the Hoods family the check out www.hoodbasketball.com or follow @hoodsbasketball on Twitter