Rossendale Raptors needed just one more win to clinch the England Basketball Division 3 North title on Saturday and faced Leeds Carnegie who they’d beaten just 6 days earlier. The Raptors started well, with team captain Aitor Estrada making some impressive 3 point shots. And at the end of the first quarter the Raptors led 23-15. Raptors kicked on again in the second period as Josh Houghton took over offensively, along with Anthony Kuczaj who once again demonstrated his continued great form. The Raptors led 53-32 at half time and never looked back.
They continued to score at a frantic pace, as the Raptors tough defence smothered Leeds, producing steals which led to easy baskets for Rossendale at the other end. Six Raptors players ended up scoring in double figures: Gayle 23, Kuczaj 18, Houghton 15, Rangelely 13, Estrada 13, Michaelson-Yeates 11 as they won the game 113-72, the Raptors highest points total of the season.
The team and the loyal Raptor fans enjoyed their celebration as the players signed autographs for the younger fans.
Coach Ken Masser was delighted with the result; “We played very well today, although it was a tough game against a talented and physical Leeds team. We’ve got a lot of strength in depth, and that’s been the key ingredient during the second half of the season. Even though we’ve had players missing every game, we’ve still been able to perform because of that talent base. We were missing Conor Porter and Papis Samb today, but still had 12 guys who all played over 10 minutes, and 11 of them scored, 6 in double figures totalling 113 points. That’s not bad when you’re missing two of your best players.”
“We’re of course delighted to have secured promotion, that was the goal at the start of the year. But to win the competition is an added bonus which we weren’t anticipating. There are a lot of very good teams in this division, and a lot of players who’ve played at a very high level. I couldn’t be prouder of the way the team have come together and played hard for each other and supported one another. Our fans, supporters and sponsors have all been brilliant this year as well, and we wouldn’t have been successful without them, particular our key sponsors ISSL. Our goal now is to have a successful run in the playoffs against the teams from the South, and then start work for our assault on Division 2.”
Lisa Spann, director at ISSL commented; “ISSL is very proud to have been associated with the Rossendale Raptors for a few years now. This season we decided to take on board the main sponsor role under our ‘Mywebsite' brand and what a season to choose to do it. We are very proud of what the team has achieved this season and they thoroughly deserve the promotion. I was not a big basketball fan until I got involved with the team and they have converted me very easily, to watch this great team perform is a pleasure, it is very family orientated and a brilliant success story for Rossendale.”
Masser concluded, “Playing as the rebranded Lancashire Spinners next season is an exciting step and we hope people from across Lancashire will get behind the team.”