For this week’s SBC Game of the Week, we were in Dunfermline as 5th seeded Dunfermline Reign played host to 4th seeded Boroughmuir Blaze in the first round of the 2018 Playoffs. A strong second half by Blaze allowed them to overcome a 5-point deficit and take the 77-68 win to put them through to the next round of the Playoffs.
The home team went on a 17-9 run to start the game as Reign’s Jake Sirrell was especially productive once he got inside the paint, scoring 10 points in the quarter. Reign locked down the paint making it difficult for Blaze to find a look inside and forcing them to take the outside shot, which they struggled to convert for the majority of the quarter.
Nevertheless, Blaze captain, Eoghann Dover lead a late push to bring the away side within three, finishing with an and-1 layup to bring the score to 19-16 by the end of the quarter.
Blaze quickly took the lead in the second quarter as Alan Macdonald and Mateus Kruczynski each knocked down a jumper inside to give Blaze a 20-19 lead.
“They dominated us on the offensive glass in the first half, they killed us quite a few times as they got multiple opportunities to score,” said Reign captain, Kieran Lynch.
However, the home team quickly tied it up as Jake Sirrell knocked down a long two-pointer to bring the score to 25-apiece. Following this, Reign went on a 14-9 run to close out the quarter which finished with Eric Potts making a turnaround jumper just before the buzzer expired, giving them a 39-34 lead at halftime.
Coming out of the break, Blaze’s Mateus Kruczynski was responsible for 7 straight points for the away side which, along with 9 points in the quarter by Sam Stott allowed them to take the 56-50 lead by the end of the period.
“We picked up our game (in the second half) defensively,” said Kruczynski, “and we shared the ball very well and we were patient when it was necessary and we were faster when it was necessary as well.”
Despite a strong first half, Reign were sloppy with their decision making on some occasions in the second half and it cost them dearly.
“I thought we turned the ball over a bit too much and that led to them taking a lot of scores in the second half,” said Reign captain, Kieran Lynch.
Going into the final quarter and Reign’s struggles continued as they couldn’t convert on either end of the court. Meanwhile, Blaze capitalised and gave themselves a double-digit lead at 60-50. Reign couldn’t pull it back and as frustrations rose, numerous technicals were handed out to both teams. When it was all said and done, Blaze came away with the 77-68 victory on the road, ending Reign’s playoff hopes.
“We were very happy because it was a game against a really tough opponent,” said Mateus Kruczynski, “they’re getting better and better. They beat us once already this season so we knew it was going to be a tough game.
Despite their campaign coming to an end, Kieran Lynch still took a number of positives from his team’s season;
“Yeah, good season for us. It’s the highest season we’ve finished in the last 10 years so we’ll take that as a positive to look forward to. Probably take some rest time for a little while and then get back at it in the pre-season.”
Mateus Kruczynski finished as Blaze’s top scorer with 20 points, with Sam Stott adding 19 points and Alan MacDonald also adding 12 points. Jake Sirrell scored a game-high 28 points in his team’s loss.
Blaze will now go on to play St. Mirren in the next round of the 2018 Playoffs.