Rebels Revel against Riders
The Essex Rebels won in dramatic fashion this past Saturday against top of the table Leicester Riders. The Rebels secured the 73 – 71 win at the death following a close fought game throughout. It was an exciting match up, celebrating International Women’s Day in front of 1,500 Rebels fans.
The game began with both teams trading baskets in fast paced action. Rebels started with a quick 3 from Dre Kohlhaas and some spectacular scoring from Guard Daniella Turner, but the offensive rebounding by the Riders allowed them to stick around in the quarter.
Essex were up 15 – 14 going into the 2nd quarter with the goal to generate some momentum from the noise of the home crowd. A solid start allowed Essex to generate an 8 – 0 scoring run from the inside threat of Sune Swart and outside threat of Daniella Turner forcing Leicester into a timeout. Coming out of the break Essex were able to continue getting stops and scores putting pressure on the away side, but late in the quarter a flurry of scores from the Riders Ashley Arlen settled the travelling teams nerve. Going into half time the Rebels were up 39 – 32.
After the half time break, Essex needed to remain focused on the game plan and anticipate that the Riders will not give up. Early on in the quarter there was a exchange in baskets but Leicester were able to capitalise on the loss of concentration from the Rebels. Essex went 6 possessions without scoring and Leicester generated an 8 – 0 scoring run forcing Coach Ross Norfolk into a timeout. The timeout seemed to settle any nerves but again the Riders continued with their scoring threat. Leicester changed up their defensive strategy and went to a zone for majority of the quarter, which hurt the offensive rhythm of the Rebels. It took Essex to long to switch focus which allowed the Riders to generate the momentum. The end of the third saw the riders up by four, 52 – 48.
The Rebels needed the home crowd more than ever. The atmosphere was electric and the Rebels needed to utilise this. Leicester hit some shots early on to create a wider gap in the scoring, however back to back three’s from Tia Freeman and Claire Paxton saw an immediate timeout from the Riders. The home crowd got behind the Rebels and the energy had shifted. Essex were back in the game, trading baskets and tightening up on their defensive rebounds allowed them to get stop after stop. Still the Riders weren’t going away. With under 2 minutes left the game was tight with the away side up two, 66 – 64. Megan Haines made a huge And 1 play to swing the momentum back in the hands of the Rebels and lift the home crowd off their feet. Back and fourth again, the score line kept switching and now with 31 seconds left the Riders executed a back door play to bring them up 1. Essex took a time out to organise their offence. Coach Norfolk drew up a play, Essex were unable to convert the 3 point attempt but a huge offensive rebound Megan Haines allowed her to draw a foul with 11 seconds to go. Megan was ice cold from the line and knocked down both free throws to give Essex the lead by 1. Now Riders turn to draw up a play after their timeout. They were able to secure an attack to the basket and draw an unsportsmanlike foul against the Rebels. This meant the away side were awarded two foul shots and possession of the ball. The home crowd came up trumps! The atmosphere was electric and hostile which generated a nervy ending for the Riders. Both foul shots were missed and Essex remained in the lead. Riders seemed to run a similar play and were able to create another foul from the Rebels. Again the pressure of the shots and the crowd seemed to play a part as again Leicester were unable to convert their fouls shots. The Rebels were able to close out the game with a foul shot from Sune Swart and the game ended 73-71.
The Essex sport arena was bouncing and the buzz was widespread. The Rebels were led by Daniella Turner with 21 points and 5 rebounds whilst Sune Swart contributed 15 points and 7 rebounds. Coach Ross Norfolk was pleased with the resilience shown, “We showed great character during tough times in the game. Leicester put pressure on us in the third and we were able to stay focused on the job at hand. The Rebels fans were amazing and the noise in the arena was a major factor to why we were able to generate some momentum”.