THE Celton Manx Warriors brought in the new year with a new name and a new sponsorship deal which coach Colin Kirkham will hope provides a lift for his team in the men’s basketball title race.
With main rivals Cavaliers enjoying an extra week’s break to work off their Christmas pudding, the Warriors took on the ever enthusiastic NFU Marvels in a fast-paced game that saw both teams employing a high pressure, open running style.
Warrior forwards Chris Wolfendale and Wayne Mears dominated the scoring in the first quarter, sharing over half the team points between them as they raced into a commanding 13-point lead at the break.
Marvels put up more defensive resistance in the second quarter but struggled to finish at the other end, AJ Suckling the only Marvel managing to finish consistently at the rim.
Staring at a half-time deficit of 26 points, the Marvels needed to make a strong start to the third quarter to stand any chance of clawing back a lead.
However, the Warriors had other ideas and Marvels coach Martin Dunne was left rueing a low scoring period, with Ross Wilson the only bright spot, scoring their measly three baskets.
Some excellent guard play from recent Warriors recruit Brendan throughout the quarter made life difficult for the Marvels at the defensive end too.
With the game pretty much in the bag at this point, Warriors cut loose and rained down jump-shots from deep and their performance was capped off by a magnificent long-range shot from rising star Kai Kirkham that touched nothing but net.
Some late pressing from the Marvels yielded some turnovers but the Celton Manx Warriors were never in danger of opening their new era with a loss.
PokerStars 62, Royal Skandia 47
Played over the Christmas period, this friendly match saw the regular league team of PokerStars face off against a Royal Skandia employee team specially assembled for the occasion.
Skandia did have the luxury of some league players of their own so, on paper, this was all set up for a close game. Sizing the two teams up at the tip-off, it was clear where PokerStars held an advantage as their front line towered over the much smaller Skandians.
They used this to their full advantage as they dominated the paint on both ends of the court with Eric Hibbs and Armand Balodis particularly impressive, stopping Skandia from registering their first basket until midway through the quarter.
The roles were reversed in the second as Glenn Holton and Jairo Garcia found their touch and suddenly Skandia found themselves with a single-point lead at the half-time break.
PokerStars’ guard Fred Roman decided to take matters into his own hands, though, and exploded in the third to help open up a 10-point cushion for the final quarter.
Despite the best efforts of Ashley Hogg and Kyle Mills, PokerStars romped home comfortable winners in an entertaining match played in the best Christmas spirit.