TEAM Solent Kestrels bounced back from their BBL Trophy exit disappointment with an 80-64 victory over Barking Abbey London Lions in NBL Division, writes Jack O'Keeffe.

The win sees them improve to 9-0 at the top of the division and is the third win over BA in all competitions this season.

The opening spells were back and forth for both sides as neither team were able to stop one another creating good looks, Ian Smith and Travis Charles did the work for TSK whilst a balanced scoring effort for the hosts saw them keep things close at 11-10.

Johnathan Lashley would come off the bench for the visitors to push the deficit to six at 18-12 but a pair of threes from Jase Harrison and Abiodun Adedo to close the quarter followed by a Veron Eze lay up edged BA in front 19-20.

A 10-3 run for the Kestrels to open the second quarter saw them move back in front 29-23, behind a pair of Chris Scarlett triples, whilst Lashley was also continuing to have an impact inside.

Barking showed a brief response through Harrison but when Elias Poorman came off the bench to knock down a long jump shot, he would increase the arrears to 10 forcing a Lions timeout with just under two minutes to play in the half. Both sides scored post timeout before the half was up but it would be the visitors who were in front 40-32 at the break.

It was a cagey affair to start the second half as both teams traded baskets but neither side able to find a free-scoring rhythm. Smith did momentarily extend the Kestrels lead to 13 midway through the quarter however Edryck Okunola and Adedo ensured that the lead stayed in single digits as they connected on a three and an and-one respectively. TSK up 56-47 with 10 minutes to play.

Barking showed plenty of fight to start the fourth as they set about cutting the deficit to five behind Veron Eze and Harrison but that seemed to kick the visiting Kestrels into life. An 8-0 run behind a pair of triples from both Scarlett and Okoronkwo handed TSK control with just under 5 minutes to play, now up 67-54 heading into a Lions timeout.

The sides traded baskets once again post timeout, but it was Kestrels who pushed the gap to 15 after Arissol finished inside and when Charles converted on a quick seal inside, the visitors looked to have wrapped up the victory. TSK would convert on trips to the line to close the game out clinching an 80-64 victory.

TSK were led by Charles, who had 22 points and eight rebounds on 88 per cent from the field, whilst Smith added 13 points, six assists and six rebounds and Lashley had 10 points and five rebounds. Barking Abbey’s American guard Harrison had 15 points and he was backed up by Okunola, who also had 15.

Kestrels interim head coach Jack O’Keeffe said: “It was always going to be tough with Friday night's game taking a lot out of our guys both physically and mentally, coupled with Barking being a talented young side who were well prepared for us.

"We struggled to find any real rhythm in the first half but the guys were able to string some stops together down the stretch and pulled away late.

"With four games in eight days it’ll be important for our guys to recover well over the next few days as we prepare for a tough double header.”

Kestrels will now shift their attentions to yet another double header this weekend, where they will play host to Bradford Dragons on Saturday at the SSC (4.30pm) before travelling to Hertfordshire University Sports Village to take on Hemel Storm on Sunday (5pm).