The McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods had a tough weekend of fixtures and after a disappointing away loss to Liverpool on Saturday night, they bounced back to defeat the league leaders, London Greenhouse Pioneers, at home on Sunday.
Hoods have not had much success at Liverpool, losing there in the league and the National Shield semi-final in overtime last season. This year, however, after both teams gained promotion to Division 2, it is the Hoods who have settled in better. The two teams were inseparable throughout 3 quarters, with Hoods edging the first two, and Liverpool edging the third, however a disastrous 25-11 4th quarter handed Liverpool an easy win and dropped the Hoods further off the pace at the top of the table.
Top Scorers: Lorenzo 26; Mitchell 13; Urbistondo 12
Sunday’s task was made all the more daunting as they welcomed the league leaders, London Greenhouse Pioneers, to the Nottingham Wildcats Arena knowing that anything less than a win would effectively end their title hopes. The Hoods home court has become somewhat of a fortress, as they haven’t lost there in league play since March 2014 and with a packed crowd of Merry Men cheering on the home team, the Hoods came out of the blocks firing.
Miguel Lorenzo collected the first rebound of the game, off a Pioneers miss and then charged down the other end to open the scoring. This was then repeated on the next three plays culminating in a big dunk on the offensive end and a block on defence to put the Hoods up 10-2. More defensive boards from the Spaniard and a long-range three from Captain Kieran Wright and the Pioneers were forced into an early time-out, with the Hoods leading 17-5.
The timeout calmed the visitors’ nerves and seemed to effect the Hoods as they turned the ball over again and again, allowing the Pioneers back into the game, but the Hoods held a slim advantage after the 1st quarter 19-15.
The second quarter saw more of the same with Siczek causing chaos driving to the basket before pulling up for his trademark jumper and Mitchell and Wright controlling the tempo of the game. At the end of the half, the Hoods were in control leading 35-27.
The second half saw both teams step up their efforts and defence as the game turned into a very physical encounter. The visitors started to get into foul trouble, allowing the Hoods to keep their noses in front, but the Pioneers would not go away as they hit 3 quick threes in a row to claw the deficit back to 5 points. Coach Waghorn called as timeout and the Hoods reacted brilliantly with some excellent work around the boards by Wong, Lorenzo and Urbistondo leading to a quick run of baskets for themselves at the end of the quarter to push the lead back up to 52-44.
In the final quarter, Lorenzo was blocking shots for fun as the Pioneers big men kept trying to finish around the basket. A change of tactics forced the Pioneers to their jump shots and they answered well, keeping the score board ticking over. Midway through the quarter, the Hoods got into foul trouble and allowed the Pioneers to keep it close from the line, however the Hoods were not going to be denied and kept their composure to defeat a very talented Pioneers team and keep themselves in the mix. Final score 65-58.
Top Scorers: Siczek 17; Urbistondo 12; Lorenzo 11; Wright 7; Krest 5; Mitchell 4; Davis 4; Wong 2; Dunn 1
Elsewhere on Saturday, there was a tough defeat for Hoods II 60-58 in overtime against Sheffield Sharks, but the u14 continued their recent run of form to win 74-41 against City of Birmingham. On Sunday, the Hoods u18 ensured they kept the pressure on the league leaders with a convincing 107-57 win against Leicester Warriors but the u16 struggled away from home, going down to a 91-48 loss to Leicester Dynamite