The third game in 6 days saw a tired Harlow Hawks travel to Basildon to play Southend Saints. And from the outset, the fatigue of the previous games was obvious to see. The whole game was almost played at half speed for the Hawks who struggled to move tired legs. The Hawks only took 8 players to the game but were relieved to see the Saints only able to field a team of 6. Given them at least the advantage in numbers.
Although the first quarter started slow the Hawks did manage to put up 21 points throughout the quarter, whilst also dominating the defensive glass. S.Niaz found an early rhythm behind the arc making 2 early 3 pointers. Whilst Norkeliunas pounded inside early on to break down the defence. Although it wasn’t necessarily pretty on the eye the Hawks led for the majority of the quarter often at one point stretching the lead to 9 points before closing the quarter 21-16.
The second quarter followed a similar pattern, the Hawks retained the lead throughout however were sloppy with the ball and in transition. Maze energized from the bench putting in great effort on the boards to secure some pivotal rebounds during the quarter. Scores come from a variety of sources, with White opening the scoring in the quarter and then being followed by scores from Maze, M. Niaz, Neveu and Norkeliunas. The team worked well to protect the paint and stop the Saints having any joy getting to the basket. Halftime came and the score was 34-30 to the Hawks, who at this point all seemed happy for a sit-down!
It seems the short 5-minute break did not have the desired impact, the Hawks seemed to have found even heavier legs coming back out to start the second and it showed until the final whistle. Turnovers were the main issue this quarter with short and underweighted passes being found from all players. They did manage to retain the lead and found some luck when the Saints fell to just five men as a result of an injury to the Saints young big man. His rolled ankle came as White hustled for a ball landing on his foot in the incident. The Hawks had most of their success in this quarter pumping the ball into Norkeliunas inside and letting him work on a tiring Saints defence. The third quarter finished 50-44.
A stern talking to at the end of the third by Coach Niaz see the Hawks enter the final quarter with renewed effort and energy. They quickly stretched out the lead from 6 points to 17 following a 15 and 4 run. The run was fuelled by scores from White, both Niaz’s and Whytock. From this point, it was just a case of seeing out the game for the Hawks and after a few late possessions returning to previous early game form the Hawks were uncomfortably able to squeeze out the win as the game finished 75-56 to the Hawks.
Written By:- Tom White