An improved performance by Mansfield Giants’ men was not enough as they went down 86-77 at EBL Division Two title contenders Huddersfield Heat on Sunday.
The Giants, who are still without four of their starting line-up, started the game a little shakily as the Heat showed their quality with some nicely executed plays to give them a 25-14 lead after the first period.
Strong defence by the Giants forced the Heat into some sloppy turnovers.
American RB Clyburn started to dominate the game as they began to claw back the points and Lewis Tucker attacked well as the Giants went into the half-time break just five points down.
Parish Xavier made a welcome return to the team and started to get into the flow as both sides traded baskets in the third.
The Giants were behind by six points going into the final quarter, and knew they would have to step up the intensity if they wanted to close the gap.
With five minutes remaining the Giants even took a one point lead, but the Heat’s experience shone through as they again took the lead and went on to record a nine point win.
Team captain Dan Richards said: “It’s been a tough old year. The injuries we have sustained to some key players has just killed us.
“On the other hand it’s gave our younger players a chance to play and develop.”
The men travel away this weekend to take on local rivals Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows. The two teams met back in November in a thrilling encounter, with the Arrows pipping the Giants 80-76 in over time.
Mark Woodhouse is expected to be back in the line up to boost the Giants, but coach Curtis Xavier will be without Scottie Summersgill, Dan Richards and Edwin Igbinezaka for the remainder of the season.
With only six games remaining this season, bottom-placed Giants are in a relegation fight, having lost two more games than the three teams above them.
Giants women travel away this Saturday to take on the Sefton Starlights.
Sefton took a comfortable 21-point victory back in November, but an improved Giants team are looking to turn the tables this time around and could move up to third.
Giants are running a half-term basketball camp this Thursday and Friday for boys and girls aged 7-18 at Samworth Church Academy (10am-3pm). Cost £10 per day.