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Rossendale Raptors secure promotion
11:16am Wednesday 5th March 2014 in Sport
Rossendale Raptors had a terrific weekend as they clinched a top two place in basketball’s National League Division Three, securing promotion in the process.
On Saturday the Raptors hosted Birmingham As, a fast athletic, three point shooting team who've troubled the Raptors in previous meetings.
The Raptors coaches finally had the whole squad available for section for the first time in more than three months as injuries begin to clear up and they started quickly and had a slender lead at half-time thanks to some long-range shooting from Josh Houghton.
But it was in the second half that the Raptors swarming defensive pressure kicked in, holding Birmingham to just 26 points in the entire second half.
That allowed Rossendale to stretch their lead and win the game comfortably 99-66.
Steven Gayle led the team with a triple double of 28 points from 12 rebounds and 10 assists.
On Sunday, Rossendale travelled to Leeds knowing a win would clinch promotion.
Leeds are a talented side led by former England International Jason Swaine.
Leeds were the team who beat the Raptors key title rivals Northants last week and would potentially be the Raptors stiffest test of the season.
However, after a first close quarter which the Raptors led 29-21, the Raptors pulled away behind 39 points from Gayle and 20 from Houghton to win the game comfortably 108-74.
With that win, the Raptors sealed their fourth promotion in five years and move into the second division in English basketball.
The Raptors can seal the third division title when they face Leeds on Saturday at Haslingden Sports Centre.
Coach Ken Masser said: “We’re delighted to have achieved our goal of gaining promotion to Division Two. It’s a huge achievement.
“Division Three is well recognised as a very competitive division but we’ve pulled together as a team and over the last few weeks in particular we’ve played really well.
“This season has been a much better team effort, with a lot more people contributing on the court and the players have enjoyed it which always helps.
“Hopefully we’ll finish the season off as champions if we can get a result next week.”
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