Report 17th November 2014
THE Men’s 1st team returned to the comfortable surroundings of the Downes Sports Hall for their first game of the 2014/15 BUCS Northern Conference Cup Competition, with University of Huddersfield Men’s 2nd’s the visitors. Seeding for the competition meant that Chester received a bye in the first round so the team have been itching to get going.
A slight delay in the tip due to traffic problems causing issues for the visitors, so Chester were able to get a prolonged warm up in and were raring to go come tip time. With the coaching staff still trying to find the best combination on court, a strong 5 were sent out to start the game, Sharland-Wong, Brandreth, Gillard, Thomas and Blythe being called upon.
Chester raced out into a 17-0 lead within the first four minutes, Gillard and Brandreth in particular tearing the opposition defence apart at will. With this in mind, Coach Wilson called upon his bench, sending in Luke Griffiths and Ethan Wade for the aforementioned Gillard and Brandreth. Toward the end of the first quarter with Huddersfield managed to get themselves on the board and the score finishing on 26-5 to Chester.
With starting centre Luke Sharland-Wong being used sparingly, Chris Wanford and Ross Wilson got good minutes to stake their claim for a starting spot alongside Luke. Both players equipped themselves well with the minutes they were given. Alex Rigsby was the standout player from the bench, providing some much needed volume whilst on defense and also being a threat in the paint at the other end. The teams went into the half with the score 45-11 to Chester.
The 2nd half saw Chester’s intensity drop at both ends of the court, Gillard and Brandreth came back in to provide some impetus but the offence still sputtered, the 3rd quarter in particular being a period in which both teams struggled to make baskets, the Q ending 58-15 to Chester.
Following strong words from the coaches, Chester went into the fourth quarter with renewed vigor, but let things slip defensively, conceding a game high 11 points to Huddersfield in the quarter. Luke Griffiths was struggling with issues with his shot all game, finishing with 9 points.
Top scorer was Niel Gillard with 26 points, a great return to top form from Niel after struggling with illness and injury in the last couple of games.
“I knew after suffering with a cold the last few days that I needed to come back strong and lead this team.”
He was backed up by Phil Brandreth with 13 points in a game where he only played 15 minutes. On the defensive side of the game, Luke Sharland-Wong had another steady game, with 4 blocks and 3 defensive rebounds. Captain Chris Wanford put in a great stint on the rebounding side of his game, crashing the boards for 10 defensive rebounds and 3 offensive rebounds. Wanford spoke to The Intelligencer after the game
“We dominated the game for three quarters but we still need to make sure that we never give our opponents the feeling they can get back into the game after we pull out a lead”
All in all an improved performance from Chester, the 76-26 win putting them through to the next round and a trip to the University of Hull on November 26th in a competition the team is looking to win following last year’s early exit to lower ranked opposition.