Blayne Freckleton brushed aside a second quarter melee as Team Northumbria defeated derby rivals Team Newcastle to maintain their strong start to the EBL Division One season.
With local pride at stake the two teams clashed after Newcastle’s coach queried a foul involving TN’s Jack Preston – who had just returned to the court after receiving treatment for a split lip.
But Freckleton and co. recovered their composure to close out an 81-69 win and head into next weekend’s clash against Hemel Storm full of confidence.
Play was stopped early into the first period after Preston was injured and the forward was forced to leave the court – although he returned in time to see his side close the gap to take a four-point lead at the end of the quarter.
“He’s good,” said Freckleton. “I think he got hit in the mouth and his lip started bleeding, so it looked worse than it was.”
The second quarter saw frustrations come to the boil after the Newcastle coach appeared to disagree with the referee’s decision to award a free-throw to TN.
“Personally, how I feel, I think that’s just how basketball is really,” added Freckleton. “You’re going to get in to it, you’re going to get heated.
“By the end of it, you’re going to shake hands and move on.”
There was a marked improvement in the second half which saw TN regain the lead.
But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the away side appeared to hit their stride and ultimately went on to the win the game.
“I don’t think we changed up our tactics,” added Freckleton. “We had a set tactic from the start and we weren’t really performing in the first half.
“Once we started performing, we just cleared the way.”
Newcastle went into the game with something to prove after losing their last two NBL fixtures but had to leave Benfield empty handed.
TN are back in action in the NBL against Hemel Storm on November 4 at Sport Central.
Report by Natalie Martin