ROSSENDALE Raptors and Birmingham Athletics produced an enthralling game of basketball with the home side snatching victory in a double overtime thriller.
And it was a debut to remember for Kieran Forsythe who pulled on a Raptors shirt for the first time just hours after the birth of his child.
It was an end to end game in every sense of th word with the lead changing hands several times before the Raptors finally beat the former Division Two side.
Both teams started cautiously with the A's taking the advantage with some fine three point shooting and putting Raptors under pressure from the start.
Both teams played with pace and tenacity and before long both they knew it was going to be a tough game!
Neither team gave an inch and the Raptors trailed 20-27 at the end of the first quarter and 40-44 at the half way stage.
Steven Gayle, as always, was having a strong game but the Raptors were also getting consistent output from all their players with everyone contributing.
Youngster Jalees Siddiq was tenacious in defence and made a significant impact on the game.
In the second half, Raptors slowly clawed their way level only to drop behind again at the close of the third quarter 52-56.
With Birmingham shooting so well it was going to be difficult for the Raptors and the travelling fans from Midlands were really getting behind their team.
But the Raptors responded terrifically as Gayle started to impose himself more and more and the Raptors were ahead 77-75 with 30 seconds left.
But Birmingham managed to score a game tying basket to take the game to extra time.
In the first five minute period of overtime, the Raptors jumped out to a five point lead, but the young Birmingham side showed great determination to again draw level and get themselves two points ahead in the closing seconds – but Angelo Kornecki sank two free throws to tie the scores at 84-84 at the end of the first period of overtime.
In the second five minute period of extra time Raptors showed their experience and strength of character, led by Gayle whose defensive energy carried the Raptors home to victory in dramatic fashion 96-91.
It was superb effort going into next week’s away game top-of-the-table clash between the Raptors and the Derby Trailblazers.
The Raptors next home game is on Saturday, January 26 where the Raptors will be offering free admission thanks to their sponsors ASK Solicitors.