Bury St Edmunds Bulldogs made it three Cambridge League wins out of three in 2019 with a 61-53 home success against Cambourne Raptors.
A slow scoring start saw the teams tied at just 4 points apiece after five minutes played. Bury’s man-to-man defence and good rebounding from Neil Thompson and Jason Sykes restricted the Raptors’ scoring opportunities and a similar effort from the away team kept things even. This pace continued until 7 points in two minutes from rookie Josh Hales helped Bury to a 17-8 lead as the first quarter ended.
In the second quarter a 3-pointer from Hales and three more baskets from Bury’s big men maintained the lead until a 6-0 run from Cambourne reduced it to 4 points and forced coach Glenn Collins to call a timeout. The Bulldogs responded; the defensive work rate increased, Oli Cowling and Sykes each scored twice and the home team were ahead 35-24 at halftime.
Bury changed to a zone defence to start the second half with excellent results. The Raptors struggled to find a way through and scored only 5 points in the first eight minutes of the third quarter. Bury converted their good defending into fast break scores including another 6 points from Hales as the lead increased to 20, before a late rally from Cambourne brought the third quarter to an end with the score 49-33.
A 7 point burst from another of Bury’s promising young players kept the Bulldogs in control in the opening minutes of the final quarter. Rookie Guard Jim Walker matched the Raptors scoring efforts and the score sat at 58-40 with just six minutes to play. The Raptors refused to give up though and finished the game on a 13-3 run. It wasn’t enough though and Bury now look forward to their next game at Cambridge Cats undefeated since the turn of the year.
After the game coach Collins was full of praise for player of the game Hales: “That was the best I’ve seen him play in a Bulldogs uniform. It was a low scoring game so his speed on the break was just what we needed. It stretched their defence and led to some easy baskets.
“Overall, I was happy with our defending, and when we passed and moved with purpose, we created good scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, we went into cruise control late in the game which gave them a chance to come back. We need to be more ruthless in those situations.”
Top scorer for Bury was Hales with 17, followed by Sykes with 12.
Bulldogs have a busy week ahead, with trips to Felixstowe Thunder and Cambridge Cats, before the Reserve side host Braintree Blue Devils at Skyliner on Sunday 17th February at 6:15pm.
If you’d be interested in becoming a Bulldog, please visit www.burybasketball.com and get in touch.