Basketball: Raptors ready for play-off glory bid

Lancashire Telegraph: Rossendale Raptors are heading for the play-offs Rossendale Raptors are heading for the play-offs

ROSSENDALE Raptors will look to seal the most successful year in their 50-year history by being crowned national champions.

The Raptors take on Worcester Wolves in the English Basketball League Division Four national play-off final in Medway on Saturday.

Having already been crowned northern champions in their first season in the national league, the Raptors travel to Kent to take on the unbeaten Wolves. And they go there on the back of 18 successive league victories plus two in the play-offs – the latest an overtime victory against Crawley in the semi finals.

Star player Stephen Gayle – who has played in the national league with Chester Jets – is now looking to add more silverware.

He said: “Its been a terrific season so far and I’m really enjoying playing here. It’s a really well run club, and a great bunch of lads. Hopefully we can now pick up some more silverware.”

Gayle top scored with 30 points in the thrilling 88-76 overtime victory over Crawley after the teams were tied 73-73 at the end of normal time.

The Valley team had trailed 39-32 at half time but stormed back in the third quarter to take a six point lead in to the final period.

That lead was stretched to 10 points but with the Raptors tiring, Crawley mounted a comeback of their own, scoring in the final seconds to force overtime.

But the Raptors dug deep and three pointers from Gayle, Aitor Estrada and Pasquale Kornecki helped seal victory.

The Raptors reached the semi finals with a dominant 115-83 over Stockport Falcons – a team they had already beaten twice in the league.

Head Coach Jim Fry said: “I’m so proud of the players. They’ve dug deep all season.

“We’ve consistently performed every weekend. To win 18 games in a row is tough no matter who you are.”

Whether Dale win or not at the weekend, Fry is hopeful he can keep his title-winning squad together.

He added: “We’re excited for next season. I’m confident that we’ll keep the team together and step up for the next level.

“No doubt we’ll look to add a couple of players as well – but all that can wait.

“We’re really focussed on trying to bring home the play-off title to add to the league trophy.”

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