Riders see off Gladiators in the clutch

The Riders won a thriller on the road, beating the Caledonia Gladiators 97-93 in the final seconds of the game.  

Captain Kimbal Mackenzie led them down the stretch with six clutch points to win it, He put up 21 points and 5 rebounds, going 8-12 from the field.

Teddy Allen led the game’s scoring, however, exploding for 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. 

The Gladiators, led by Lukas Palyza’s 17, were down big in the fourth but fought back to take the lead with less than a minute left. They didn’t have enough to secure the win however, and the Riders improved to 13-11 on the season. 

Leicester endured a slow offensive start, which found them in an early hole. They started 1-7 from the field, and the Gladiators ran out to a 9-3 start led by 4 points from Fahro Alihodzic. 

Allen took the lid off the basket with a three from the top of the arc to cut the difference to a score. The Riders found some rhythm from there, and the sides exchanged baskets going up and down the court. 

Caledonia had the better of the final stages of the first quarter. They crashed the offensive glass for second-chance points, and led 24-15 after one led by 6 points from Whelan. 

Allen got the second quarter underway with a triple to claw some points back. But the Gladiators kept pouring on the points, getting to the foul line consistently to keep their scoreboard ticking over. 

The Riders came storming back midway through the period. TJ Lall and Allen hit threes back to back, Allen pulling up in transition to make it 34-31. He exploded in the quarter, scoring 13 to bring his game tally to 17 by halftime. 

The hosts threatened to pull away, rebuilding their lead to eight, but a 7-0 Riders run to end the half, finished off by a buzzer-beating three from Holmes, to make the score 48-47. 

Mackenzie ran in transition to start the second half to take the Riders’ first lead of the game. The Riders kept the Gladiators at arm’s length for the start of the third, finding consistent offence to contrast their start to the game. 

Miryne Thomas connected from deep with a big three to put the Riders up nine going into the media timeout. Out of the break, Mackenzie ran the floor for a tough finish inside to make it a double-digit difference. 

Allen stayed hot, putting in 7 points in the third, and the Riders entered the fourth up 75-67.

But the Gladiators came out into the fourth with two straight scores to make it a four point affair. 

Mackenzie hit back, draining a three to stop the run of momentum, and Holmes built off the triple, making two buckets at the rim to keep the Gladiators at bay. Allen followed him up with two finishes of his own, responding to Caledonia’s trips to the foul line. 

But the hosts did find a way back, and Palyza hit a big three with 2:49 left to make the score 87-90. Clifton Moore Jr hit back-to-back baskets to take the lead with 1:35 left. 

Mackenzie hit back with a three from the top of the arc, putting the Riders up two. With the ball going the other way, Holmes rejected Whelan, but Bothwell found the bottom of the basket after the subsequent rebound to tie the game at 93. 

Mackenzie struck again with a midrange pull-up with 52 seconds left, and Palyza missed a three on the next possession. With 30 seconds left, Mackenzie made one of two free throws to make it a three-point lead. 

Bothwell had a chance to tie it for Caledonia but missed from three, and Idowu put the game beyond doubt from the foul line with eight seconds left, securing an important win for the Riders. 

Leicester returns to action on Friday, hosting the Sheffield Sharks.

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