Bristol Academy Flyers keep their unbeaten record with close victory over Crusaders
THE Bristol Academy Flyers kept their undefeated record intact at the SGS WISE Campus and came out on top 68-62 in a tense Division One battle with Medway Park Crusaders.
Bristol led 16-9 late in the first quarter, but Crusaders hit back to make it 18-17 early in the second.
The rest of the half was an even contest with a three-point shot by Doug McLaughlin-Williams giving Flyers a 31-28 lead at the break.
Crusaders scored the first nine points of the second half, helped by triples from Disraeli Lufadeju and James Harris, but again Bristol hit back and moved in front in the middle of the third period.
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Flyers enjoyed a key 10-1 run early in the fourth, started by a three from McLaughlin-Williams, and ended with one by Mostapha Alfaki, to take a seven-point lead.
Crusaders got as close as three points and were still in with a shout after a Cole Hobin triple made it a four-point game with just over a minute left.
The team from the South East failed to take advantage of some Bristol misses and came up just short.
Enrique Garcia top-scored for the winners with 16 points and nine rebounds.
There were three other Flyers in double figures, including McLaughlin-Williams, who had 11 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
Crusaders were led by 16 points from Lufadeju and 13 from Hobin.
Bristol Academy Flyers head coach Andreas Kapoulas praised his side's second-half performance.
He said: "We started the game very slow and demonstrated signs of complacency.
"In the first half, we found it difficult to find rhythm and our defence lacked urgency and communication.
"The first minutes of the second half were similar but, after our team time out, our players regained their poise and focus and, starting with our defense, took control of the game."
The Greek coach added: "I was really pleased to see some of the players displaying good leadership at a very crucial point of the game and was particularly happy with the contribution of our young talented players Mostapha Alfaki, Tamas Okros, Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye and Jack Griffiths."
With five teams still remaining undefeated in the league, the Flyers face the most challenging weekend of the season so far.
On Saturday, the Bristol side will travel to Hertfordshire to play Division One newcomers Hemel Storm who, despite losing their first league game of the season, have secured a spot in the National Trophy quarter-finals.
Kapoulas said: "Hemel are a very well-respected club and there is no surprise about how quickly they achieved promotion to the top English league, especially as they are led by head coach Dave Titmus, who has great international and domestic experience. He knows how to get the best out of his players."
On Sunday, the Flyers will return to action at the SGS WISE campus in Stoke Gifford to take on the Derby Trailblazers (5pm).
Bristol Academy Flyers Under-18s faced Worthing Thunder in their fifth game of the season and secured an impressive 73-47 win that moved them to fourth place in the Under-18s Premier South National League.
Flyers Under-16s made it three wins out of three league games on Saturday, with a comfortable 80-31 victory against a young Taunton Tigers team.
Flyers Under-14s recorded their first win, a 35-25 triumph over Taunton, but were then defeated by 54-19 by Torbay.
Bristol Academy Flyers II faced Bracknell and went down 85-60 in Division Four South West.