LEAGUE leaders Bury Blue Devils posed the final hurdle of 2011 for Ribble Valley Knights in the team’s final Manchester League Basketball fixture of the calendar year.
Having just suffered their first defeat of the season the previous week, Bury were looking to reassert themselves against a Knight’s team that, on paper, should have been a relatively easy win for the North Manchester squad.
After two early scores for Knights saw them take a quick 5-0 lead, Bury found their rhythm and outscored Knights 12-2 over the next six minutes.
Ribble Valley called a timeout to try and re-group. and back-to-back three-pointers from Jon Marfleet and Adam Taylor immediately following brought them back in to contention.
The team were still struggling to deal with Chris Stainton at the defensive end though who led the way for the visitors, scoring 15 of Bury’s 20 first quarter points as the Blue Devils finished the first period up by just one at 20-19.
Knights began the second quarter with a change in defensive assignments as Geoff Bogle took on the role of stopping Bury danger-man Stainton. This worked well with Stainton limited to just four more points for the remainder of the game, but Bury proved they had other offensive options and managed to keep the scoreboard ticking over steadily to the half, where the teams were separated by a single basket, Knights still trailing at 34-32.
As is so often the case in basketball matches, the first five minutes of the third quarter were to prove decisive.
Bury changed tactics and exploited Knights relative slowness to get back on defence, as they fed their fast guards long passes off rebounds leaving Knights defenders time and again beaten up the floor by the lightening fast Blue Devil guards.
Outscoring Knights by 10-0 in the first five minutes and extending that to a 17-2 run after seven minutes of the quarter, meant that Ribble Valley had a mountain to climb as they entered the final period trailing by 14.
But the Clitheroe squad had not given up and, led by Mike Moss and Patrick Simmons who combined for Knight’s first 12 points in the fourth quarter, they chipped away at the Bury lead and with five minutes still remaining had narrowed the gap to nine points.
Bury always seemed to be able to get a basket when they needed it though, and two further scores from the visitors extended the margin back to 13 and from there the game was done.
Man-of-the-match was Adam Taylor who once again top scored for Knights with 26 points.
Ribble Valley Knights now get a break until mid-January when they travel to Our Lady’s in Manchester.
Anyone interested in playing basketball is welcome to attend the junior or senior training sessions.
More information is available on the team’s website – www.ribblevalleyknights.co.uk