Blackpool Basketball Club started 2018 with a tough National League double-header and were edged out 83-74 by Calderdale Explorers in the battle of the top two in North Division Four.
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Blackpool were without the injured Mark Cowell and the unavailable Greg Whitaker against the leaders.
James Ormond opened the scoring for Blackpool with a three-point play but Calderdale answered with nine straight points. The physical first quarter ended 19-18 to Calderdale.
Calderdale stretched their lead to six but Blackpool kept answering back, and after Aitor Estrada scored eight they took a slender 37-36 lead into the half-time break.
The lead changed hands five times in the third quarter and two three-pointers from Estrada tied the game. However, Calderdale closed out the quarter with a 10-2 run to lead 63-56.
Nine points from Estrada were just what Blackpool needed and with five minutes left the game was all square at 66-66.
But then Blackpool struggled to find the basket and turnovers left them nine points down with three minutes remaining and there was no preventing a second defeat of the season.Estrada finished with 24 points to go with five rebounds, while James Ormond chipped in with seven points and 10 rebounds.
Blackpool bounced back the following day to beat Stockport Falcons 88-81 in their first home game of the year as Whittaker returned alongside Danny Edwards. Estrada continued his sharpshooting with eight early points, and Harry Parr scored five as Blackpool led 24-22 after a back-and-forth first quarter.
Estrada scored 12 of Blackpool’s 19 points in the second quarter. They led at one stage by 16 only for four straight baskets in the last two minutes to cut Stockport’s deficit to 43-35 at half-time.
Blackpool struggled to find their rhythm in the third session but Danny Edwards’ buzzer-beater left the hosts 64-59 up ahead of the final period.
James Ormond scored a quick four points and Greg Slater added a three ball but Stockport took the lead for the first time since the opening basket.
Blackpool responded but four Stockport points left them ahead by one going into the final minute, though Estrada and Slater clinched it for Blackpool. Estrada finished with 34 points and five rebounds, Slater adding 20 points and six assists.
Blackpool trail leaders Calderdale by two points but have a game in hand going into Sunday’s match at winless Sefton.