The Kent Crusaders II battled their way to an 84-68 victory over Folkestone Saints to progress to the second round of the National Shield.
Strong outside shooting and resilient defence proved the difference, as a run late in the 3rd quarter gave Crusaders a double figure lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Crusaders started the game with a dominating first quarter as they took a 27-11 lead into the break. Crusaders hit 6 3s in the opening period, as Disraeli Lufadeju and Elliot Bailey scored 7 points each in the opening frame, matched by 7 from Andy Chiguri from Folkestone.
Crusaders continued to run away with the game in the second period as the lead reached 36-15 midway through the quarter. However 12 points (including 3 3s) from Rob Vassie in the final 5 minutes of the half brought Folkestone to life as they trimmed the deficit to 42-31 at the half.
Vassie hit two more 3s early in the second half as Folkestone’s momentum continued cutting the lead to 48-43. However a 14-5 run sparked by a number of defensive stops stretched the lead back to 14, before Vassie again rallied Folkestone scoring 5 points in a mini run to close the quarter trailing 62-54.
Back to back 3s from Tunde Oyerinde and Billy Beddow opened the quarter for Crusaders as the lead again went to double digits from which they never looked back. A balanced attack saw out the fourth quarter for the eventual win.
Head Coach Jesse Sazant was relieved with the win saying, “Credit to Folkestone they played hard despite being down early and fully deserved their comeback. It’s always fun to play against so many of our academy alumni. As we have said the past few games, there are longer and longer glimpses of what we want to be but our consistency is still so far away.”
A balanced attack saw Crusaders hit 13 three pointers and 6 players reach double figures. Lufadeju led the way with 17 followed by Jonathan Brown (13) Beddow (13) Bailey (12) Milo Gordon (12) and Oyerinde (10). Crusaders academy alumni Vassie led Folkestone with 27 followed by fellow alumni Chiguri with 13 and Finleigh Porter with 10.
Crusaders and Folkestone meet again next Sunday in the league, while Crusaders progress to meet London Thunder Lewisham in the next round of the Shield.