Mansfield Giants’ men made a fine start to 2015 as they won 82-70 away to Sheffield Sabres in their first game of the New Year last weekend.
But Giants’ women ran out of steam in their final quarter as they lost 71-49 at home to Northants Lightning.
The men faced up against a tough and scrappy Sheffield Sabers team, who were looking to climb up the standings, without coach Dan Richards who was away coaching the Giants 16s team in Leeds.
Chris McIntyre and new assistant coach Keith Morant took over the reins for this game and Richards said: “This was a great team effort considering the circumstances.
“Players really stepped up in areas to get the win. We have now won six out of our last eight games and feel were are really starting to make great strides.
“We have still got a lot of hard work to do to make the play-offs but we are certainly heading in the right direction.”
Giants were led early on by big man Barry Plummer, who scored an impressive 11 first quarter points. Parish Xavier was strong attacking the basket with a few finishes in the paint.
Plummer produced a repeat performance in the second quarter as he ended the half with 20 points and 10 rebounds before leaving at half-time for work-related reasons as Mansfield led 54-25 at the halfway mark.
Giants now needed extra from two top scorers Calvin Morant-Hudson and Mike Buffalo.
Hudson led the charge by knocking down shots from the outside and Buffalo attacked the basket fiercely as Giants pulled away, Hudson leading the way with 21 points, Plummer with 20 points (all in the first half) and Buffalo with 18 points.
Giants’ Women, playing their first game in over four weeks, faced facing Lightning for the first time in the league this season.
The team had previously played against the Northants side in the first weeks of the season in the Trophy, coming out with a narrow victory to take them into the quarter-finals.
This time on home turf, Giants were missing starting point guard Sarah Taylor and Franky Harper but saw the return of Steph Jone,s who had been out for the first half of the season with a broken hand.
It was the Northants side who took an early lead, taking advantage of the long break from action which saw the Giants get off to a shaky start and lose the first quarter 22-10.
However, in the second quarter, Mansfield found their stride, making some quick ball movement and working the ball inside to pull the score to within one point at half-time.
Giants continued to play strong throughout the third quarter and hold off the attack from Northants, with Steph Jones putting points on the board.
Charlotte Levitt also found her form sinking some long range shots before working her way inside to dominate under the basket.
It was the final quarter where Giants began to run out of steam, seeing the younger fitter Northants team take full advantage to pile on the points in the final minutes and leave Mansfield in a battle to regain their hold on the league in the second half of the season.
Giants Coach Jo Richards said: “We played some great team basketball today, but unfortunately our fitness let us down and led to some poor decisions being made in the vital stages of the game.
“There are plenty of positives to take from the game and I think overall the team should be pleased with their performance and the girls are definitely hungry to get back into winning ways this week against Leicester.”
Jones top-scored with 13 points, Levitt adding 11 and Van Alten nine.
With a full and healthy squad, Giants’ men are back in action this Saturday with a home game against Team Birmingham, who defeated the Giants early in the season.
The Giants now have six wins and six losses on the season and are tied for sixth place in the EBL Division Three standings at the moment.
The game tips off at 6.30pm at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre and admission is just £3 for adults and £1.50 for U16s.
On Sunday Giants’ women travel away to Leicester Riders II (1.30pm).
Mansfield Giants U16s continued their winning streak with a hard fought 67-56 win over Leeds Force.
The young Giants have now won five games in a row.
With a two week break the team have now got time to focus on their preparations before they travel away to league leaders Newcastle Eagles.