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Gloucester City Kings take 97-96 last-minute winner against Plymouth Marjon Patriots

Gloucester City Kings took a hard-fought 97-96 win against visitors Plymouth Marjon in the final NBL game of the season.

The Kings finished their second NBL Division 3 season in sixth, improving from last season’s ninth place.

Hensy Sako, a Plymouth Marjon student, played an outstanding game scoring 42 points as the highest-scoring player on the court. Nebi Babu and Filipe Cassais-Davies also delivered great performances for the away side.

Gloucester started the game with the first four points, retaining excellent accuracy from three-point range throughout the game.

In the opening five minutes of the first quarter, the Kings took a 17-3 lead. Centre Rhys Farrell used his size to dominate his way into the paint with close-range shots, which the Patriots defence struggled to stop. 

By the end of the first-quarter, the home side finished with a 28-11 lead, with Farrell, Fraser Macdonald and Louis Fawl performing at a very high level.

As the second-quarter began, it was clear that the Panthers had regrouped during the break and started to show themselves as an attacking threat, putting the Kings’ defence to work.

Plymouth made three consecutive turnovers, with the home crowd chanting for a timeout. Head Coach Jimmy Bower agreed and chose to give his side a breather to compose themselves. 

Despite the Patriot’s clawing their way back into the game, the King’s were able to retain an 11-point lead at halftime at 45-34. 

As the second-half began, Plymouth Marjon came out with new aggression and intent to attack the basket and combined this with newfound accuracy, they started to take control of the game.

Patriots point-guard Sako demanded the next level of intensity from his side in the second-half, quickly making up the point deficit and taking the lead for the first time of the night, five minutes into the third-quarter and continued to run riot on Gloucester, picking up a substantial lead.

Going into the final-quarter, the visitors held the lead at 68-64, and the atmosphere inside Leisure at Cheltenham was at an all-time high. As the end of the game approached, a technical foul was given to Gloucester’s Fraser Macdonald, who put up an impressive 18 points, whilst also showing himself as a strong defender in front of the rim. However, after taunting his opponent after blocking his shot, he was thrown out of the game.

With just two minutes left, and Gloucester down by four points, the home side were awarded four free throws due to unsportsmanlike behaviour which resulted in Plymouth’s technical foul. Gloucester’s number seven stepped up and secured three of the four, leaving the home side behind by just one point with a minute on the clock at 95-96. 

Both teams fought desperately to win the game in the closing seconds, but it was Gloucester’s top scorer Rhys Henry who scored the final points to take his side ahead by one, winning the Kings’ final NBL game of the 23/24 season.

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