|Home Team||Raptors - National|
|Visitor Team||Northants Thunder|
|Match Date||Saturday, 02 November 2013 - 17:15|
|Match Score||93 - 97|
Rossendale Raptors lost a tight home game to the high flying Northants Thunder on Saturday 97-93 despite a furious second half comeback.
The game was slightly overshadowed by the departure of head coach Jim Fry who has been coaching at the Raptors for the last four years. It was a difficult week as the Raptors had to restructure slightly in order for Ken Masser to coach the team in the short term whilst the club seek a more permanent replacement.
Northants travelled up in terrible weather, but the young and very fit team didn’t seem to be fatigued from the journey as they jumped out to an early lead. However, the Raptors players seemed untied and played together well to finish the quarter very well and actually take a slender lead 24-20. The second quarter was where the Raptors saw themselves under significant pressure as the Thunder showed their pace and athleticism, scoring easily on the fast break as the Raptors struggled to respond. In the second half the Raptors made some technical adjustments, and managed to slow down the Thunder, winning the quarter 19-15 and closing the gap to nine. In the fourth quarter the Raptors really dug deep, contesting everything against the younger fitter Thunder. Some big shots from Steven Gayle and Kieran Forsythe got the Raptors back into it 76-74 with just over 5 minutes left.
In the last five minutes the scoring would go back and forth, and with 15 seconds remaining Raptors trailed 93-90. Aitor Estrada was then fouled with 10 seconds to go as he attempted a three point shot. He scored all three of his foul shots to tie the game. Unfortunately the Raptors then made the committed a foul and the Thunder scored both of their free throws. With seven seconds remaining Gayle dribbled up the court, passed to Estrada who took a 3 point shot for the win, which narrowly missed and the Thunder ended up winning 97-94.
It was an exciting end to end game. Ken Masser commented “I was really proud of the players, they’ve had a tough week, and they responded really well. From being 20 down we fought back well, and put ourselves in a position to win, but today wasn’t our day. We’ll continue to improve and hope to be in the mix at the business end of the season.”
With regards to Coach Jim Fry, Ken explained; "Its a very sad day for the Club. Jim is one of the nicest, most genuine and charismatic figures in the game. He is a close personal friend and I hope we will be able to work together again in the future. His work with the Raptors has been unbelievable and his commitment unquestionable. He's one of the world’s truly fantastic people and he will be sorely missed. We will now have to assess our options over the next few weeks with a view to identifying a head coach to continue to move the club forwards in the longer term.”
The Raptors face Nottingham away on Saturday, and Hull away on Sunday before returning for the next home game on the 17th.