A strong end to the game was not quite enough to inspire a late comeback as Team Sunderland Basketball fell to a narrow 57-63 defeat to Leeds Gryphons 5ths.
An affair which saw Sunderland look strong in parts saw them rue inconsistency throughout the match, with a score in the final quarter of 18-11 not able to make the difference and continue the home sides built in their two prior consecutive wins.
Sunderland actually took the lead into the end of the first quarter with a strong start from AliJuinor Ndayitabi to thank as the powerful and adaptive player proved his worth at both ends of the court with six points, three rebounds and a block before the sound of the first buzzer.
Mario Tanuous also got the crowd on their feet as he prevented Leeds attack as they approached half court with a fantastic steal, before drawing on a foul as he danced his way in to a layup – he shortly after drew an offensive foul to deny a surefire layup for the opposition.
Gryphons came out from the break with a purpose and stormed into a strong lead, but a strong end to the second quarter by Etinosa Omoregie kept the games within arm’s reach. With three minutes on the clock the club captain nailed his first three pointer, landing another and two free throws before half-time with the score 25-32.
An evidently motivated Harry Berry came out with purpose after the interval, crashing the boards early doors before assisting Ndayitabi for a three pointer. Gryphons however proved too powerful on the offence all-in-all and extended into a lead of 13 going into the final quarter.
A strong end to the game for a well-coached Sunderland gave hopes of a late comeback in a thrilling final 10 minutes.
Seven of their closing points were to the credit of Ndayitabi with five for Omoregie, leaving the possibility of taking the game to overtime or even a Sunderland win a real possibility with the home side just six points behind with a minute and a half to go.
Gryphons however showed great prowess in their late offensive rebounds to maintain control of possession and tick the clock down to grind out the win. It was a result below the potential of Sunderland, who produced an objectively better game against Northumbria 2nds a week prior.
AliJunior Ndayitabi: 17 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks
Mario Tanuous: 14 points, 6 assists, 3 steals
Etinosa Omoregie: 14 points, 3 assists, 1 steal
Charlie Duxfield: 7 points, 3 rebounds
Harry Berry: 3 points, 1 assist, 5 rebounds, 1 steal
Daniel Awad: 2 points
Minigoiti: 3 rebounds