British big, Gabe Olaseni stood out for London with 18 points, as the starters all contributed with impressive stat-lines.
Clifton Moore Jr’s recent form translated into the game against the league leaders, finishing just shy of another double-double of 12 points and eight boards. Prince Onwas paced the hosts with 19.
Caledonia Gladiators starting five: Ian DuBose, Patrick Whelan, Lukas Palyza, Princeton Onwas, Clifton Moore Jr.
London Lions starting five: Jordan Taylor, Luke Nelson, Conor Morgan, Ciaran Sandy, Gabe Olaseni.
Gladiators quite literally flew out of the gates, as Onwas took flight for the first score of the game. A few possessions later, London left the back door wide open for Moore to rock the rim with the alley-oop finish.
This gave the Caledonia an early 7-2 lead, as well as the early foothold in the clash of first vs. second.
The homegrown combination of Luke Nelson and Olaseni were the only Lions on the scoreboard up until the first media timeout, with the visitors struggling to shut down the early home offence.
The momentum stayed with the Scots who stretched out to a 14-point lead of 26-12 from some efficient charity stripe shooting. Something flicked in the Lions play and they roared back into contention to end the first with a 6-0 spurt through Josh Sharma and Bradley Kaboza off the bench.
The sides went basket-for-basket in the second; just what fans wanted from this top of the table clash.
Gladiators impressed in keeping the renowned London scoring at bay. Lions struggled to get a lid off the basket from downtown, but piled on the scoring after Jordan Taylor’s answer-back triple sparked a run of 10 unanswered points to make it 36-34 to Caledonia at the second media timeout.
Olaseni tied the game and then gave London their first lead of the game with back-to-back baskets, as the game ticked down to half-time.
At the interval, Lions held a one-point advantage at 41-40 thanks to Kareem Queeley’s long range bomb from the left-hand-side.
London started to turn up the heat in the second half, and controlled more of the game as Conor Morgan found his range.
Nine of his 11 points came in the third period, and proved a much-needed cushion for London as they headed into the fourth with Caleedonia still hot on their heels.
Onwas continued to be the main offensive weapon for the Gladiators, but trailed Lions at the end of the quarter 65-57.
Olaseni, Nelson and Taylor continued to be the driving forces for London in the fourth quarter, stepping up and responding whenever Caledonia looked to threaten with a comeback.
After their uncharacteristic slow start from behind the arc in the first half, Lions came up clutch in the closing stages with a pair of dagger threes from Ciaran Sandy and Taylor in quick succession to make it a 14-point lead with less than five minutes left in the contest.
Gladiators did ask questions of London late on, as Lukas Palyza and Moore’s late scoring provided some impetus to potentially turn the tide.
Patrick Whelan made it a four-point game from the line with 22 seconds remaining, but the reliable veterans Taylor and Olaseni sealed revenge with an 87-79 win on the road to extend their lead at the top of the League standings.
Player of the Game
Tonight’s Player of the Game was birthday boy, Gabe Olaseni. His 18 points proved vital for London in overturning the first-half Caledonia lead, showing off some playmaking prowess with four assists from the pivot spot.
|Clifton Moore Jr.
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