After a recent run of good form and the addition of a couple of promising new players to the Ribble Valley squad, the Knights entered their home match against Congleton knowing that victory would leap-frog them over the Cheshire side in the Manchester League table.
A 70-mile Tuesday evening drive up the M6 obviously did not appeal to all of the Congleton squad as they arrived with only six players, but those that made the trip looked determined to make it a worthwhile journey.
Things started brightly enough for the home side as Adam Taylor produced his now customary first quarter flurry of points and helped the Knights to a 16-11 lead going in to the second period where, despite missing several scoring opportunities themselves and allowing Congleton some easy baskets through sloppy defensive play, Ribble Valley increased their lead to seven at the half.
A rather fiery and animated half-time pep-talk from coach Geoff Bogle seemed to fall on deaf ears as Knights began the third quarter as they had ended the second, allowing the visitors to stay in the game by converting the easy scoring opportunities afforded to them. For some reason the 10-man Ribble Valley squad seemed content to play at Congleton’s pace rather than upping to tempo to take advantage of the extra depth on their bench.
Thanks to a couple of nice jump-shots from Jon Marfleet and David Fearn, Knights manage to stumble through to the end of the quarter with their seven point lead intact.
In the final quarter, the quality of Knights play got even worse as the visitors, sensing an improbable comeback victory, stepped up the pressure. Slowly Congleton chipped away, with just under a minute to go they were within two scores at 58-53. A foul by the visitors put Bogle on the free throw line with two shots to make the game safe, but missing both of them gave the guests renewed hope and they capitalised by reducing the margin to three points.
With only a few seconds left Knights for once, passed the ball well until, with just a second left, Patrick Simmons was fouled and so again a Knights player was at the free throw line, this time needing just one of two free throws. But after missing both shots the visitors had enough time for one desperate full court shot that could tie the game and send it in to overtime.
Fortunately for Knights, it was well off the mark and Ribble Valley escaped with a 58-55 victory, which vaults them to fourth in the table.
Anyone interested in playing basketball is welcome to attend junior or senior training sessions. More information is available at www.ribblevalleyknights.co.uk