Game of the Week returned this week after a 1 week lay-off for the Scottish Cup Finals with a vital game between City of Edinburgh Kings and St Mirren West College Scotland in the Men’s SBC.
Both sides knew that the game, played at Portobello High School, would have huge implications on their league position ahead of this year's Playoffs.
The game opened with St Mirren looking the stronger of the two sides, attacking the basket and hustling for offensive rebounds. This gave them an early 7-13 lead, although it felt like it was more. Despite City of Edinburgh gaining a bit more rhythm as the quarter went on, they couldn’t immediately get back level with Saints, Fergus Harte being the highlight of the quarter with his pace and energy. After 1, the score stood at 16-21.
The 2nd quarter followed the same trend as the first, St. Mirren looking the better side in the opening minutes, then Kings settling in to their offense and beginning to string baskets together which brought the game back once more.
Ali Mackay and Garreth Lodge were the catalysts of City of Edinburgh’s offence, looking to attack the basket and find good opportunities. However the St Mirren lead was able to slightly extended as the Paisley side used their depth in the first half which saw everyone hit the floor.
The score was 27-36 as the teams headed to the locker rooms and Kings knew that they were very much still in with a good shout in the second-half.
The second half became a bit more lively with both teams having players known for their physicality and attitude to never back down from an opponent.
This meant that the game got very intense, very quickly. We saw Chris Cleary and Ali Mackay throwing a little bit of extra weight at each other inside, the guards getting up close and applying lots of pressure on each other on the perimeter. It was City of Edinburgh that seemed to thrive on this atmosphere clawing the game back all the way to within 1.
It was Kings' youngster Ryan Armour who was the key to the third quarter run for the home side and heading to the 4th the score line was 46-47 and the momentum was definitely with Kings.
The final 10 minutes was set to be a close one and with all of the fans expecting a thriller, City of Edinburgh were able to take their first lead of the game at 51-49.
As soon as they had the lead, they lost it again as Dale Grieve hit not one, not two, but three 3 pointers in the space of 2 minutes. Pair this with Nick Collins beginning to get going with his famous fade-aways and St Mirren had blown the game up, the score at 51-62.
With the game now Saints' to close out, Kings attempted to bring the game back and as the seconds winded down, Kings guard Craig Reilly got his second technical foul of the game putting an end to their run. As the final buzzer sounded, St. Mirren had won 56-67, meaning Kings are now out of the title race and will most likely end in the 4th seed for the play-offs, while Saints are now in a good position to finish 2nd in the table.
City of Edinburgh’s stand-in Head Coach Doug Reilly made these comments following the game: "I thought it was quite a good game, a nice example of Men’s Scottish basketball, both teams working pretty hard and then in the end, they made a bunch of shots which is very difficult to stop and ultimately was the difference in the game. Nick Collins will always make shots like that, he’ll miss a lot but he’ll also make some of those turnaround fade-away’s, and then we can’t leave guys wide open for 3’s when they’ve already made a couple. So they got a good run at the right time which killed our momentum. The players worked really hard, I was delighted with the effort. The league may be gone now, but now we have to get mentally ready for the final couple of games and into the play-offs."
St. Mirren Head Coach Stuart Glass was satisfied with his team’s performance: "It was a good game for us, what we were looking for, a real team performance with all 10 guys involved. Circumstances meant there was no juniors involved tonight, so we had 10 senior players and they all put in a good performance, made a good effort, maintained the intensity enough and we scored at the right times in what turned out to be a reasonable 11 point victory. Basketball is a game of runs and Edinburgh got a wee run and got in front by 1 or 2 points, and then it was our turn next and we got a couple of back to back 3 pointers which got us back in charge again and we managed to maintain that to the end of the game and as I say, a 11 point win is fairly comfortable. We’re determined to get as high up the league as possible to secure home advantage for the play-offs and I’m fairly confident we will finish pretty high in the league. There’s only 3 games left in the league, so we’re now looking forward to the play-offs."