This week, we were in Dunfermline to witness Dunfermline Reign play host to City of Edinburgh Kings. Kings came away with the win on the road, defeating the home side 76-72.
After the game tipped off it was Reign who struck first in this game as Nicky Sims beat his defender off the dribble and made his way to the basket for the lay-up. Kings quickly replied on the other end as Kyle Jimenez – who came into Saturday’s game as Kings leading scorer with averages of 17.1 points and 4 assists per game – got into the lane and, after drawing in the help defender, found Calum Nicol on the wing for his first two points of the game. Eric Potts, who came into the game averaging 11.8 points per game so far in the season, then hit his first jumper of the game as he pulled up from the elbow. Kings quickly tied the game soon after, as Ali Mackay cleaned up a miss from Calum Nicol.
Struggles on the defensive end hurt Kings early in the first, as they allowed Nicky Sims and Craig Ferguson to get into the paint and collect a number of baskets inside. Reign’s defense, on the other hand, was very strong, as they locked up the paint and forced kings to take the outside shot. They also effectively doubled Ali Mckay in the post, only allowing him to score 4 points in the first quarter.
With the score tied at 15-apiece, Reign then proceeded to go on a 14-6 run to round out the quarter. This was spurned by Craig Ferguson who found Keiran Lynch in the corner for the long three-pointer to start off the run. Eric Potts then scored 6 straight points for his team as he was found on a pick-and-roll action by Kieran Lynch, followed by a jumper from the elbow. He was then fouled after grabbing an offensive board, sending him to the line where he knocked down both free throws.
After Jake Sirrell hit his second triple of the game to put Reign up 27-19, Kings quickly called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, the ball came to Ali Mckay in the post, who was double-teamed and got tangled up with one of Reign’s players. He then came away grimacing with an injury to his hand which forced him to leave the game for the remainder of the contest. A foul on Eric Potts then put him on the line once again, where he knocked down two to give him 12 points in the quarter and giving Reign a double-digit lead at 29-19. Kings scored the final basket of the quarter as Kyle Jimenez found Paddy Campbell inside for the finish, lessening the deficit to 29-21 at the end of the first period.
“We dealt with the size advantage that they had,” Said Reign Captain, Kieran Lynch when asked about their early lead, “It was unfortunate for them that big Ali (Mckay) went out for them. Obviously he’s a big shot blocker and blocks a lot of shots for them in the paint … But yeah, we played very physical, we played to our strengths – which is our speed and we shot the ball well which was good.”
To start off the second, Reign did an excellent job of drawing in the defense, as Sims found Potts open under the basket for the first two shots of the period and allowing them to stretch out their lead. However, after Nicky Sims knocked down a one free throw from the line, giving Reign their largest lead of the game at 36-23, Kings gradually began to narrow the deficit. This came on the back of Kyle Jimenez and Calum Nicol who combined for 18 points in the quarter, bringing the score to a one possession game by the end of the half. Calum Nicol seemed to find his shooting rhythm in the second quarter as he sank a couple of jumpers and was great at attacking the closeout and proficiently getting to the basket.
Jimenez also did a much better job of getting into the paint in the second, coming off screens and allowing him to find good looks at the rim as he scored six straight points for the away side to narrow the score to a 4-point game. As the half came to an end, Reign lead by just 1 point at 47-46 as both teams went to the locker room.
Coming out of the gate it was Kieran Lynch who started it off in the third for Reign, getting into the lane for the floater to push the score to 49-46. However, Calum Nicol quickly responded with a three-pointer from the top of the arc, tying the game at 49-49 for the first time since the first quarter. A strong defensive showing by Kings allowed them to keep Reign to just 9 points in the third quarter, letting them take a 63-56 lead by the end of the quarter.
“We really knuckled down defensively,” said Kings coach Craig Nicol, “We made a couple of adjustments, looked at a couple of line-ups that we hadn’t gone with before and we really managed to nullify their threat and slow them down a lot compared to how the first quarter scoring was going – it absolutely came from our defence.”
In the final quarter, Reign quickly narrowed Kings lead to just 4 points as Kieran Lynch made a floater in the lane after faking out his defender, followed by Jake Sirrell making one from the line, and Craig Ferguson finding Peter Marshall inside for the and-1 finish to trim the score to 67-63. Garreth Lodge then put two on the board for Kings, converting on the tough contested layup. Craig Ferguson quickly responded for Reign, finishing off a fast break with an and-1 finish to trim King’s lead to just 3. After Calum Nicol made one from the line, this was then followed up followed up by Neil Rowan who made the tough floater in the lane to push the score to 72-66. On the ensuing possession, Craig Ferguson was then able to find Eric Potts under the basket for the shot inside to close the score to a 4-point game.
With the clock winding down, Reign needed a basket to stay in the contest. With just 24 seconds on the clock, Calum Nicol missed the layup inside to seal the game and the ball came to Craig Ferguson who sprinted up court. As Reign passed the ball around the key looking for the open shot, the ball ultimately ended up in the hands of Kieran Lynch who took one dribble and pulled up from three as his man was a step late to close him out, sinking the clutch triple to bring Reign within one point at 72-71.
Coming out of a timeout, Reign then quickly fouled Kyle Jimenez who went to the line and sank both free throws, making it a three-point game. With just over 5 seconds left, Craig Ferguson pulled up from the three-point line and was fouled on the three-point attempt, giving the home team the chance to tie the game. Unfortunately for Reign, Ferguson missed on his first two free throws and Kings closed out the game 76-72.
Eric Potts finished the game as Reign’s highest scorer with 20 points, with Craig Ferguson, Kieran Lynch and Jake Sirell each adding 10, 13 and 11 respectively. Kyle Jimenez was Kings’ highest score with 19 points along with Calum Nicol adding 18 points.
In City of Edinburgh’s next game they will face Stirling Knights at home on the 24th of November while Dunfermline Reign will travel to Paisley to take on St. Mirren on the same day.