Skipton back on course on a bad night for Giants
TWO different divisions of Giants tumbled to sturdy opposition in the men’s Vistra League action on Wednesday night.
Following Cranfords’ 80-58 victory against Giants’ second string in their Division Two duel, reigning Division One champions Skipton took over the Beau Sejour stage to give their newly-redrafted team another test.
After their earlier loss to last year’s underdogs Mayside, a sign of success for the league re-draft, how would the champions get on?
The whites of Skipton eventually triumphed 74-55 but with the exception of several periods of dominance, it had been a very tightly-contested game against the Giants in orange.
Max Hamon’s solitary three-pointer left little in the bank for Skipton early on as Giants accumulated a number of baskets in return.
Giants, true to their name, had the advantage in stature.
The Jai Vaudin-coached side capitalised on the height of Nico Robinson and against a Skipton side lacking size by their own admission, he would prove valuable, eventually picking up 24 points.
Skipton nevertheless worked well as a team to make up for the slow start and wipe out what had been a nine-point deficit – making it 19-19 at the end of the period.
The champions drew first blood upon resumption only to then be reeled back by a three-pointer from Kaine Hyde.
Skipton had a few chances to pull ahead but squandered them – until a superb four minutes in the run-up to half-time.
Between a generally tightened defence, great movement and some sharpened shooting, Skipton scored 14 points unanswered to make it 39-27.
The eventual winners did not look back, although the following minutes had been much more evenly-contested, with the scoreline reaching 61-46 with 10 minutes of play remaining.
Giants did look to be getting a foothold back in a stop-and-start final period, with Hyde and Robinson continuing to shoulder the scoring, and had closed the gap to nine at one advanced point. But James Rowe finished off a late Skipton scoring run in style to further the margin of victory.
It had been a team effort and Skipton captain Aaron Walden was pleased to see several younger players – Elliott Robert, Harry Sykes and Dettory King – contributing significantly.
The captain was also pleased to get that first win in what promises to be a tougher league campaign than the last two.
‘We’re happy to come away with a comfortable win in the end,’ said Walden.
‘We started a bit on the rusty side, missing a couple of key players, and it was down to the youngsters, who played really well – they really stepped up to it.
‘The re-draft has made the games a lot fairer and more competitive as Skipton for the last two seasons have come away quite easily with the league.’
Newer addition James Rowe added: ‘It makes this league competitive and it’s more split up, and we’ve got youngsters applied to all the teams.
‘Every time people come down to watch the games, they’re always close and exciting.’
As for the earlier Division Two match, Cranfords quickly broke ahead with a bumper 26-10 score in the first period.
Giants Two upped their game in the next 20 minutes, even winning the third quarter with a hat-trick of three-pointers from Josh Hamon.
However, the well-balanced Cranfords significantly extended their lead in the late stages.
In the women’s division, reigning league champions Ravenscroft suffered a surprise scalping from Praxis Pumas, losing 49-60.
Emma Hicks’ Ravenscroft side had led narrowly at half-time but had fallen irreversibly behind in the third quarter.
Praxis gained 22 points and only conceded eight in that 10-minute span and they also won the final period, with Island netballers Gemma Batiste and Lorna Hall both scoring big numbers.