Hawks Seniors took to the home court Sunday evening to play Thurrock Hornets after an undefeated run 4 games into the season across both Herts & Essex Div 2 leagues.
In the first half Hornets had the sting in their tail, catching the home side out with a high level of physicality. Asserting themselves on the boards at both ends of the court and punishing the Hawks on every missed shot and turn over. pushing out the lead in the first quarter and out running the home side saw the guest with a comfortable 11 point lead as the buzzer sounder to round up the opening quarter. Scores came from S.Niaz, R.Norkeliunas, M.Niaz, S.Payne, and R.Whytock split a pair from the foul line.
The second quarter allowed the Hawks to observe their offensive game, breaking Thurrocks scoring spree by reducing the lead to a 10 point deficit (16-15 points). The recent new addition of guard David Graham started off the bench with immediate effect hitting a nicely placed 3 pointer. Rimas contributed 6 points in order for us to match the Hornets on points. The Hawks began to contest at the defensive end and further scoring from S. Niaz 5 points, T white 2 points showed better luck and choice making at the offensive end.
The half time marked the change in pace for both teams. The Hawks came out and played the best defensive all season holding the opposition scoreless for the first six minutes. In that same time the offence found its groove and the home side erased the poor start as the scoreline stood at 36 a piece. Back to back 3 pointers from S.Niaz & R.Norkeliunas Caped the 10-0 run to open the third quarter. The visitors dug there heels in and scored a quick 6 points off of some silly turn overs, much like the start of the game. Player coach S.Niaz answered straight back with eight uninterrupted points of his own. The veteran showed a glimpse of the assassin he once was night in night out. Drawing an easy foul and converting 2 from 2 at the foul line, followed quickly by a contested three pointer. The dagger in the back was the pull up 30 footer that saw nothing but the bottom of the net, the guest bench was silenced and the spirits drained as the Hornets buzzed off the wrong guy!
With a subtle 4 point lead the Hawks had ten minutes to deal the deal. Knowing the Thurrock lads were now chasing they just had to protect the ball and use up the clock. The defencive intensity was the clear difference as the travellers added only 1 point in the first five minutes. R.Norkeliunas worked relentlessly in the key adding 2 points and strangely hitting 3 of 3 from the foul line. T.White (credited for much of the defensive stops) dropped 2 of his total 8 points to cap a 7-0 run. With less than 5 minutes on the clock, the tiring Hawks had to hold out the small lead to secure the win and keep that perfect record. With fatigue setting in a couple of cheap fouls sent the Hornets to the foul line twice. Shooting at 50%, they bought the game to single digits at 55-47 with four minutes left of game time. A quick on-court regroup allowed Hawks to focus and regain control. Another mid-range shot from T.White and a final outside dagger from S.Niaz lifted the spirits back up, before D.Graham connected perfectly for a classic give and go as L.Morris hit the extended bounce pass allowing D.Graham the easy layup. With a final minute to go and 15 point lead, Hawks played it out safely with the Hornets left feeling deflated. Final score 66-50
Written By:- L.Morris & R.Whytock