Rossendale Raptors shine to stun MK in Shield

ROSSENDALE Raptors hosted Milton Keynes Mustangs in the quarter final of the National Shield bidding to make their first National Shield Semi-final in club history.

The National Shield is a cup competition with entrants from all over the country and is one of the two premier basketball cup competitions in the UK.

Milton Keynes boasted several players with top flight experience and had shown their pedigree in the earlier stages of the Shield with several good wins.

The Mustangs started quickly and made their intentions very clear early on as they used their pace, size and physicality to bully the Raptors somewhat in the opening exchanges.

Raptors battled back a little towards the end of the first quarter and trailed 17-23.

In the second quarter the Raptors seemed to settle into their rhythm a little more and were offensively more efficient, and pulled ahead 42-40 by half time.

In the second half, the offensive prowess of Steven Gayle and team captain Aitor Estrada came to the fore as they scored quickly and easily with Estrada scoring four three-pointers in succession to extend the Raptors lead to 76-61 by the end of the third quarter. Raptors continued to extend their lead in the final period and booked their place in the semi finals with a 100-83 win.

Youngster Conor Porter again played some excellent defence but man of the match honours were split between athletic centre Tom Sutton who grabbed 19 points and 16 rebounds and Steven Gayle who finished with 35 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Captain Aitor Estrada commented: “It was a great team performance.

“We defended well, we shot the ball well and showed a lot of spirit to respond to a very physical and fast paced tempo set by Milton Keynes.

“We look forward to Derby next and hopefully finish 2014 on a winning streak.”

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