The Nottingham McDonald’s Hoods came out of a tough weekend in a similar position to how they went in with a 50% 3&3 record as they fell to Thames Valley Cavaliers 85-81 on Saturday before bouncing back to beat Manchester Magic 55-82 on Sunday.
A slow start to the game in the south, saw Cavaliers rush to an early 8 point lead. Welle kept Hoods in the game with great work on the offensive glass and Slavic put some pressure on inside but poor defensive rebounding and sloppy ball rotation saw the Cavaliers take a 23-13 lead after the 1st.
With the welcome introduction of David “tintin” Watts off the bench (back in the squad following a horrendous head injury and concussion), the Hoods went on an offensive spark. James with a nice block on the perimeter, backed up by Malachi Nelson on the defensive end kept the Cavaliers scoring in tow as Watts started to light it up from downtown to bring the scores level at halftime, 35-35.
Watts continued his fine shooting from beyond the arc in the 3rd quarter, but the game ebbed and flowed between these two competitive teams who were a class above last season in Division 2. Cavaliers were owning the paint, with Hoods unable to deal with the strength of the Cavaliers big men but Welle, Watts and Mitchell kept it close with a fine shooting display, finishing the quarter with 5 consecutive 3s, but it was the Cavaliers who kept had crept ahead 62-53. A dunk by Cavaliers to start the 4th was immediately answered back with a dunk by Watts but Cavaliers continued to extend their lead. Further 3s from Mitchell and Watts brought the Hoods right back into the game 80-75 with just 2 minutes remaining. Hoods were forced to foul and a tense finale went the way of Cavaliers as they hit the clutch free throws to take the game 85-81.
A slow start on Sunday in Manchester with both teams struggling to score saw the match tied at 6-6 midway through the 1st before Mitchell took control, hitting from range and getting to the lane for some easy buckets. Ballentine was working hard at both ends of the court, scoring, rebounding and assisting his team. A dunk by Magic was followed by a Watts 3 as the Hoods lept into a 12-23 lead at the end of the first. Ballentine, Welle and Slavic worked well together inside, as the Hoods continued to increase the lead. 5 offensive boards in a row for the Hoods with just under 3 minutes remaining in the half showed the dominance of the Hoods big men against a young Magic side. James and Ballentine were controlling the defensive boards and clamping down on defence to send the Hoods off for some easy fast-break scores, including a Slavic dunk to put the Hoods in control at the half, leading 27-43.
In the 3rd, Welle dominated with points and rebounds to throw the game wide open. Continued pressure allowed Coach Westley to run the bench and ensure all players got on the score-sheet for a solid 55-82 win.
After the double header, Coach Westley commented, “Mixed emotions coming out of the weekend. Gutted about the Thames Valley loss, but delighted how the gents responded on Sunday. Luke Mitchell really stepped up as a leader and I was delighted with Cole (Welle) performance on Sunday. I’m looking forward to gaining some momentum in the coming weeks with some local derbies and home fixtures.”
Stats Leaders vs Cavaliers:-
Watts – 27 points (7/11 3-pointers) – 2 rebounds – 1 assist
Slavic – 14 points – 10 rebounds – 2 assists – 1 block
Welle – 11 points – 6 rebounds – 1 assist
Mitchell – 10 points – 3 assists
Nelson – 6 points – 2 rebounds
James – 4 points – 2 rebounds – 1 block
Brownell – 3 points – 1 assist
Wright – 2 points – 1 rebound
Ballentine – 2 points – 2 rebounds
Maher – 2 points – 1 steal
Stats Leaders vs Magic:-
Welle – 16 points – 18 rebounds – 1 assist – 1 steal
Watts – 16 points – 7 rebounds – 1 block
Mitchell – 16 points – 4 rebounds – 2 assists – 2 steals
Slavic – 14 points – 7 rebounds – 1 assist – 2 blocks
Ballentine – 6 points – 6 rebounds – 3 assists – 1 steal
Brownell – 4 points – 1 rebound – 2 assists
Olarerin – 2 points – 1 rebound – 1 steal
Williams – 2 points – 1 rebound
Nelson – 2 points – 1 steal
Wright – 2 points – 1 rebound – 2 assists – 2 steals
James – 1 point – 2 rebounds – 3 assists – 1 steal
Maher – 1 point – 3 rebounds – 2 assists – 1 steal
Photo courtesy of @lissphotography