City of London Academy 69 – 71 John Madejski Academy

JMA takes the head to head on CoLA as the teams meet for the second time this season, with the Rockets eventually winning 71-69. The result came despite CoLA putting in a gutsy performance in the second half.

A well executed pick and roll put CoLA on the board but JMA picked up the defensive intensity from there, forcing CoLA into poor turnovers and leading to easy transition points. The first quarter ending 17-7 to JMA.

The second period started with some good play from the home side. Tyrese Garrod hit his second triple in the early going, Andre Parker enjoyed an exciting put back and Jude Lambert scored with his first touch of the game, cutting the visitors lead to 3 at 17-14. David Chive then went on a scoring spree for the Rockets, notching the next seven points and forcing Coach Williams to call a timeout. 24-38 was score going into the half time.

CoLA started slowly to start the second half giving the Rockets a chance to extend their lead to 19 before Parker finally scored. Toibu Lawal brought some good energy to the game, blocking shots and an emphatic dunk really got the home crowd pumped up. CoLA managed to keep the JMA team scoreless for the next five minutes clawing back to be within 6 points going in to the 4th quarter.

It was Lawal again who scored the basket to tie the game at 50 a piece early in the fourth before Chive struck again with a strong drive to the basket. Ross Stepney then got into the action to hit a clutch triple, forming three of his eventual 18 points.

Going in to the last minute of the game down 8 the home team refused to give up and executed some good set plays which resulted in Kavel Hawes and Oscar Leigh-Hales nailing back to back 3 pointers to cut the lead to 2. Crucial free throws from Stepney sealed the game though as a last gasp effort was intercepted by JMA on the final possession.

Head coach Jay Williams said after the game: “I am extremely proud of the way the boys fought in the second half, they showed great poise and executed well down the stretch but we have to play for 40 minutes if we want a chance to beat a well drilled team like JMA.”

Top scorers for CoLA were Kavell Hawes on 14, Tyrese Garrod with 12 and Erikas Sendrauskas on 11.

David Chive led the way for JMA with a game high 19 points as Ross Stepney added 18 and Kelsey Espeut finished on 8.

CoLA are back in action away to Copleston after Christmas while JMA host Oaklands.

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