Two points the difference in basketball thriller

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Lancaster 57 – 55 Bangor 

The highly anticipated top of the table clash between Lancaster Women’s firsts and Bangor Women’s firsts lived up to its reputation and could not have been a closer encounter. With very little to separate both sides, in the end the game came down to who could handle nerves better. The win took Lancaster to the top of standings and three points clear of second-placed UCLAN who have a game in hand.

The home side dominated from the start with a good show in defence and missed chances from Bangor giving Lancaster a 10-6 lead.

In the second quarter, Bangor’s point guard Salome Udaiyar led from the front and fully exploited Lancaster’s lack of communication and coordination in defence.

Joy Santos and Katie Kepford played a key role as Bangor fought back to take a significant four-point lead going into fourth quarter.

Bangor, who were already without their first five and came with only 7 players, received a massive blow when their point guard and by far the best player of the game Salome Udaiyar, pulled a hamstring and was out for a crucial part of the game.

It was then that Lancaster sensed a comeback, and with three minutes to go skipper Vasiliki Makou scored a three-pointer to take Lancaster ahead for the first time since the first quarter.

However, with Bangor’s skipper Salome Udaiyar returning to the court and continuing despite an injury, the match was far from over and she quickly scored four points to level the score with 90 seconds to go.

But the game still had more twists and turns than a Martin Scorsese thriller and Claudia Tse had a great opportunity to seal the game with two free throws and forty seconds to go on the clock. She missed both shots and Lancaster ended up losing possession of the ball to Bangor.

A foul with 15 seconds to go meant Katie Kepford of Bangor, who had an amazing game, had two free throws. She too missed.

Lancaster took a crucial five-point lead to make it 55-50 with three minutes to go in extra time. However, as had happened very often in the game, they found themselves unable to  hold onto their lead and Joy Santos and Katie Kepford in the absence of their captain stepped up to bring Bangor level.

When the game looked all set to go for a second extra time, Lancaster Captain Vasiliki Makou produced a stunner to seal the game with three seconds to go.

Lancaster, who were relegated to Division two this year, have a very young side and a new coach in the form of Dimitrius Karakasis. The team however has to work considerably on its defence and shooting if it wants to win the division.

Lancaster displayed a solid team effort with Vasilihi Makou and Claudia Tse scoring 20 and 15 points respectively and Nazli, Thelma Gore, Anya Rasaiah, Stella Homer and Laurie Kramer providing good support.

Bangor despite losing had a lot of positives to take from the game and even though they were missing their preferred first five, they were still the more dominant team and had Udaiyar not got injured it might have been a different story.

Lancaster will want to end the term on a high in their game next Wednesday against UCLAN. UCLAN are a side that has looked a class apart from the rest and ruthlessly crushed Lancaster 24-55 a few weeks back in their own den.

The game is sure to be an interesting clash as Lancaster’s young guns have improved a lot since then and revenge would definitely be on their minds. The winner of that game will decide a lot about how the season fares up.

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