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Rossendale Raptors show real promise
4:06pm Tuesday 8th October 2013 in Sport
ROSSENDALE Raptors had an encouraging weekend as their first two home games of the season brought a win and a narrow defeat.
Three weeks ago Raptors started their season with an away win at Derby, and they had their second league game on Saturday at home to Sefton Stars.
A day later they hosted Tees Valley Mohawks at home on Sunday.
A big crowd came along to Haslingden Sports Centre on both days to see the Raptors, as well as performances by Street Dance crews from DLNW and cheerleading from the Limitless Cheerleading Squad.
The Raptors got an extra time win on Saturday against Sefton, who are league title contenders.
The final scoreline was 82-74 after the teams were tied 66-66 at the end of normal time.
The Raptors had jumped out to a big lead in the first half behind some excellent all around team play.
But Sefton came back strong, winning the third quarter 28 points to five as the Raptors wobbled.
But the Raptors showed composure in the final quarter and overtime behind experienced guards James Smith, a new signing for the team, and Steven Gayle.
Gayle finished with an impressive 41 points from just 22 shots.
He was ably supported by Aitor Estrada and Anthony Kuczaj, who combined for 26.
Sefton were led by ex-BBL stars Chris Pierce, Phil Brandreth and Nick Gillard, who each scored double figures.
On Sunday, the Raptors faced a strong, athletic and extremely physical Tees Valley Side from two divisions above them in the National Cup.
The Raptors battled well against the fully professional side but it was clear which team had the luxury of practicing every day and Tees Valley were clearly the fitter team.
However, Raptors team work and individual skill kept the game close and after three quarter they were only six behind.
Credit must go to Kuczaj, Tom Sutton, Matthew Lindsay and Phil Hargreaves, who battled hard.
But as fatigue set in Tees Valley slowly stretched away in the final period to win the game 81-68.
It was an excellent performance against one of the very best teams in the country.
Coach Jim Fry was very happy with the weekend’s displays, saying: “It was a great win against Sefton on Saturday, though there were many parts of the performance which we can improve on.
“Sunday was arguably a much better performance and we’ve proved that we can compete with the very best teams in the UK.
“I was really proud of the players determination and effort and I’m looking forward to seeing the team develop.”
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