Team Northumbria men’s basketball tipped off the second half of their NBL Division One season in style, with victories in their away double header against Team Solent Kestrels and Leicester Warriors.
Top of the table Team Solent struggled against an improved and in-form Northumbria who led from the start and delivered the home side their first defeat in six league games.
It was also their second defeat to TN this season – although when the two sides met at the start of the campaign the hosts narrowly edged a two-point win.
TN’s Blayne Freckleton began the scoring by sinking an impressive three-point jump shot, the first of nine for TN in the game, after a slow start for both sides.
The Kestrels quickly went on the offensive but were unlucky to see a number of shots fail to hit the basket and TN managed to open up an 18-point lead that the leaders never really recovered from.
Solent managed to stage a comeback in the fourth set but it was too late.
TN’s new recruit, Atif Russell, made his mark as the overall top scorer in the game – scoring an impressive 19 of Northumbria’s 86 points – with Malcolm Smith contributing 18. Siman Stewart pulled down nine rebounds with Lewis Champion adding seven assists.
“We got really positive contributions from everybody and had players stepping up all over the court” said head coach Marc Steutel.
It was a tougher game for TN against Leicester Warriors that saw just eight points separate the two sides.
However, Steutel’s men managed to maintain their cool and pulled together to finish the game victorious.
“I’m really pleased with both games over the weekend,” he added. “It felt like two true Northumbria performances in terms of our identity and our style.”
The team have worked on improvements over the Christmas break and have now firmly set their sights on this month’s challenging men’s National Trophy clash against Manchester Magic.
“We have to ensure we stay focused now on the Trophy semi-final against a tough Manchester side a week on Sunday,” added Steutel.
Tip-off is on Sunday January 28 at 5pm.
Report by Natalie Martin