Palace's application to join the league was rebuffed in the summer, but they made their point with an 82-81 win over Doncaster Panthers at the National Sports Centre on Saturday night to earn a place in today's quarter- final draw.
Palace staged a dramatic finale. They recovered from 11 points down and still felt confident trailing 81-80 with 16 seconds to play and Doncaster's Jason Fogerty standing at the free-throw line. "We knew who to foul," Byrd said. "Jason's great at drawing fouls but he's not so hot at making the free throws."
Fogerty, the 6ft 8in former England international had already missed four out of five and duly missed the next two. Richard Scantlebury took the rebound, made the pass to Byrd, whose assist found Solomon Ayinla moving round the defence to slip home the winning lay-up two seconds from time.
"A nice moment," said Byrd, reflecting on how the First Division champions and current leaders had upset the Budweiser League's ninth-placed club in front of 800 spectators. "We've always said we could draw the crowds to see us playing the top teams, and we knew we could hold our own against them. We just need more chances like this."
That chance will come in the last eight, where Palace join Birmingham Bullets (beat Leicester City Riders 94-72); London Towers (won 82-65 at Derby Storm); Hemel Royals (beat First Division Coventry Crusaders 101- 73); London Leopards (won 87-82 at Worthing Bears) and Thames Valley Tigers (won 103-71 at First Division Ware Rebels).Reuse content