An epic battle to open the season, the badgers came out with a strong start, Farooq opened the scoring and Mike and Doug added four each with new man Banky getting straight into the action with a basket and splitting a pair of free-throws. The badgers kept moving the ball well and jumped out to a 15-7 lead by the end of the first quarter. Scoring was spread across the starters in what was a comfortable start to the game.
The soldier bears adapted quickly, switching to a stifling man defence that slowed the Badger’s ability to move the ball up the floor and limited any offensive movement with strong physical play. The effect was immediate limiting the badgers to only 6 points cutting the lead to 4 by the half. In the third quarter the soldier bears matched their defensive intensity with an effective attack, adding transition points and sinking four 3-pointers to inflict further damage on the badgers, winning the quarter by an impressive 18 points to 6.
Going in to the fourth quarter, the badgers had to gather themselves. Down by 8, interim coach Cobra issued the rallying call to stir the spirit of the honey badger. Farooq laid down the hard numbers: we wouldn’t score more than 15 by playing zone. The solution was simple. Man defence. The badgers set about their press, and the hard work and pressure immediately paid off, leading to turnovers and transition points for the hard working guards. Mike grabbed a bunch of points (7 for the quarter) by attacking the tiring soldier bears, while at the other end of the floor G-man Watson went into full Hulk mode to shut down soldier bears key threat Lukawski. The pressure on defence unleashed Fraz who added 6 hard fought points in the paint. Up off the canvas the badgers had the soldier bears reeling with a thirteen point turnaround to put the badgers up by as much as 5 in the quarter. With the Leithers unable to level the knockout blow, the bears rallied to draw level and the defences won out as the clock ticked away. The scores level, the table appeared to have called time, only for the referee to controversially estimate NBA level time-keeping and demand an extra second on the clock with the soldier bears in possession. The badgers were focussed and defended well enough for the soldier bears quick effort to fall short. Relief turned to resolve, and the Leithers went into the extra session with a point to prove, they came up with 10. After an exchange of scores the Badgers dropped an audacious 3-pointer straight in the face of the defence to put the badgers up by 4. That proved to be death knell as the bears failed to register any further points. The badgers defence was resolute and El Prez Mike had a field day breaking hard and padding his points from the line, finishing with a game high, season high, 25! Hard running Scott added to his 6 point total spearheading a 3-man fast break. Finishing 10-2 for the Badgers in overtime there was no doubt over the result by the time the whistle blew this time, with badgers running out 54-46 winners.
Despite digging a deep hole, a lot of positives came out of the game. We kept composure, we played together and we trusted each other. Highlighted by Andy, Jonotan and Farooq selflessly turning down minutes at crucial points in the game to make sure of the result.
With Coach Holden back in the fold, next up are the Peregrines.