Rebels Get a Bounce-Back Win over Newcastle Eagles
The Essex Rebels returned to league play this past Saturday taking on the Newcastle Eagles. It was a redemption game, as the Rebels secured the league win, 74-64, after narrowly losing to the Eagles the previous weekend in the Trophy quarter-finals by 1 point. The game was additionally marked on everyone’s calendars as it was the final game for Head Coach Tom Sadler, making the win a bittersweet moment for the program as they said goodbye afterwards in a tribute to their head coach.
The game began with both teams remaining scoreless for the first 2-minutes before Dre Kohlhaas got the Rebels on the board with a finish at the basket. The Eagles responded with a lay-up and deep three of their own before Claire Paxton found Sune Swart wide open under the basket to help the Rebels even the score. The teams continued to trade baskets behind a Tia Freeman 3-pointer (Rebels), a pull-up jump shot from Marina Fernandez (Eagles), an additional 3-pointer from Ashleigh Munns (Rebels), and a putback lay-up by Daniella Turner (Rebels), which led to a 6 point lead for the Rebels with 3 minutes remaining in the quarter. Despite 6 turnovers from the Rebels, it was the 10 turnovers from the Eagles that allowed Essex to enter the second quarter with a 5-point lead of 19-14, where Ashleigh Munns got things started for the Rebels by hitting back-to-back 3 pointers, her second and third of the game, that quickly extended the Rebels lead to double digits. Both teams then went on respective scoring runs of their own, before a questionable foul call on the Rebels allowed the Eagles to bring the game to within 3 points. The half ended with a continued back-and-forth scoring battle, with the Rebels slightly edging the Eagles by 5 points to enter the half up 43-33.
The second half kicked off with defensive stops by both teams, before a strong inside finish by Sune Swart and a steal which led to a lay-up from Daniella Turner put the Rebels on the board first. Additional lay-ups from Sune and Dre put the Rebels up by 18 points before the Eagles scored their first points of the half after 4 minutes of gameplay. The Rebels then experienced a short scoring drought of their own before Claire Paxton knocked down a 3-pointer, which was swiftly answered by the Eagles and a 3-pointer of their own. However, not to be outdone, Claire Paxton responded with another 3-pointer giving the Rebels a 17-point lead entering the final ten minutes.
An extremely poor foul call from the refs on Sune Swart resulted in a follow-up technical for a small display of emotion, which allowed the Eagles to cut the deficit to 13 points and sent Sune to the bench with four fouls. Newcastle saw their advantage in the paint, scoring 7 quick points, as the Rebels looked to hold on to an 11-point lead with 6 minutes remaining. After Ashleigh Munns hit her fifth 3-pointer, Sune re-entered the game to help give Essex some inside support once more, but within seconds she was given a questionable and seemingly targeted foul that saw her day finish early. However, basketball justice seemingly prevailed as the next possession found Ashleigh Munns hitting her sixth 3-pointer of the game and an ensuing impressive offensive rebound by Daniella Turner resulted in a made wide-open lay-up. A clear travel violation by the Eagles was ignored by the refs, allowing the Eagles to cut the Rebels lead to 11 points with 90 seconds remaining, but the following offensive possession by the Rebels allowed for some much-needed time to run off the clock before Tia Freeman was sent to the foul line with one minute remaining up by 12. After a bit of desperation from the Eagles to get points on the board quickly, the Rebels gained control of the ball and finished the game with a win, final score of 74-64.
After his final game, Head Coach Tom Sadler had this to say, “I am really excited to see how this group finishes out the year and I wish them nothing but the best, as I will be cheering them on from afar. I know what they are capable of and when they are firing on all cylinders they are an incredibly hard team to beat. We did today what we should have done last week by causing turnovers, competing on the boards, and sharing the ball much better as a team. So I’m proud of the way we bounced back and got the job done. I’ll never forget my time here at Essex Rebels and I can’t wait to see how far this program can grow and what they can accomplish in years to come.”
Top Performers –
*Ashleigh Munns – 17 points
*Daniella Turner – 14 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals
*Tia Freeman – 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals
*Claire Paxton – 12 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists
*M. Justinak – 21 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
*A. Lewis – 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists
*K. Nolan – 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals