Brixton’s men faced a tough away challenge at Solent Kestrals but can take a number of positives despite suffering a 97 – 73 defeat.
The final score masked what was otherwise a competitive and close fought encounter as Brixton fought hard and performed well for large parts of the game. Coach Baker will no doubt take solace in the performance, especially in the knowledge that Topcats were without a number of key players. The Topcats travelled to Solent without top scorers Amon Brown and James Lloyd and were also short handed at the four and five spots with a number of players unavailable.
John Stewart scored 14 of Brixton’s first 16 points in the first quarter to keep Topcats in the game but a mix of good shooting, transition scoring and second chance points from Kestrals meant that Solent led after the first quarter 37 – 22. Despite solid offensive execution, coaches Baker and Salisbury were not pleased with conceding 37 points in the opening quarter and their team responded in the second.
Brixton opened the second quarter with an and-one layup from Jordan Crawford who finished the game with 14 points. That proved the catalyst for a 15 – 4 run fuelled by energetic Topcats defence with “Big AJ” Gellatly acting as a spark plug off the bench. Topcats contained Solent to 11 points in the second and Stewart continued to pour in points. Even Solent’s switch to a zone could not contain him as he scored 20 of his 24 in the first half. After trailing by 15 at the end of the first, Brixton went into halftime down by 7 with the score at 48 – 41.
The third quarter was an untidy affair as Brixton picked up early fouls and found themselves in the penalty within the first 5 minutes of the half. With a shorter rotation available than normal foul trouble played a huge role, with John Stewart picking up his 4th foul and Rohan Smith fouling out in the the third quarter. With Topcats key players in foul trouble Kestrals were able to extend their lead – which ballooned out to 18 points before Big AJ hit a crucial 3 on the buzzer to give Brixton hope going into the final quarter.
Brixton looked to push back into the game but effectively traded scores with Kestrals early in the fourth. However, Topcats were unable to force their way back into the game as Solent were able to get out in transition to spark an 8 – 0 run heading into the final 2 minutes. Topcats men wouldn’t quite but a late flurry of 3s from Robert Odia and Mike Peel came too late.
Coaches Baker and Salisbury were focused on the positives after the game. Coach Salisbury said:
“We’re still in the early days with this team. We got started with our preseason late. Coach Baker is really giving this team all the ingredients it needs and we’ve got a brilliant group of guys who check their egos at the door and put the team first. We are getting better every time we step on the floor. This final score today doesn’t reflect how competitive the game was and we had stretches where our execution at both ends was excellent. We’ll take the positives from this and prepare to host a solid Nottingham team back at the Rec next weekend.”
Brixton’s men are next at home in the #RuffHouse on Sunday 22nd November at 4pm against undefeated Nottingham Hoods.