Basketball: Panthers on prowl

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The Independent Online
DONCASTER PANTHERS ended the Second Division championship hopes of their old rivals, Crystal Palace, with a 76-72 win at the National Sports Centre on Saturday night. Tony Holley scored 20 second-half points to bring the visitors back from a 33-26 half-time deficit, writes Duncan Hooper.

The Panthers opened the second period with a 12-2 burst. Stuart Soloman held the league's all- time leading scorer, Russ Saunders, to just 16 points, and the Yorkshire club did not trail again. They are now set to return to the First Division as champions.

Forty seconds from time, Saunders tied the scores at 71-71, but three free throws opened a 74-71 Panthers' lead. When Saunders regained possession, he was immediately fouled, seven seconds from time.

Saunders scored with his first free throw but, with Palace needing two more points to force overtime, he deliberately missed the second shot in the hope that a team-mate would take the rebound and was penalised by the officials. Kevin Penny scored Doncaster's two final points with free throws to complete the victory.

In the First Division, the Carlsberg League championship slipped further from Thames Valley's grasp with Friday night's

89-85 home defeat against Guildford, which allowed Worthing Bears to open a two-point lead.