In a carbon copy of last week’s narrow win over Anglia Nomads, the Colchester Gladiators Basketball opened up a large lead by half time but struggled to put the game away. Deben Jutes slowly clawed back the deficit but the Gladiators showed their determination to win the game with some clutch free throws inside the final 30 seconds.

The Gladiators improved their record to 4-0 but will need to show more focus to put teams away if they intend to win promotion to Division One. After a slow start by both teams as they sized each other up and while the Gladiators are used to being able to out size and out muscle opponents, Jutes came with two very tall players to try to compete with them physically. Zydrunas Valancius, Dan Vilkys, Richard Ese and Simon Cornelius all got on the score sheet in the first period but they weren’t having it all their own way under the basket as the tall Jutes used their height well collecting a number of rebounds.

The Gladiators took control team in the second quarter with Ese scoring three three pointers and turned a 17-15 deficit into a 27-17 lead with a 12-0 run and extended it to a healthy 15 point lead with Rhett Burton and Andis Leitis chipping in with baskets and they went in to the break up by 38-23.

Jutes struggled last season but this is not the same team. They slowly clawed back the deficit which had reached 18. A 9-2 run helped reduce this to ten by the end of the third quarter and a fast start to the fourth saw them score the first nine points to close to within a single point.

Vilkys was not having this though and took it upon himself to restore the Gladiators’ lead and rattled off the next five, and with two minutes to go the his team lead 63-57. An infringement while trying to get the ball into play turned the ball over and Jutes took full advantage and tied the game going in to the final minute and had possession. But Valancius managed to steal the ball and raced down the other end only to be blatantly fouled and injured on the play. The technical foul gave the Gladiators two free shots but Valancius wasn’t able to take them so Andis Leitis stepped up. The ice cool Leitis sunk both shots to take the score to 65-63 and when Vilkys was fouled in the act of shooting as time expired, he was successful with a free throw to seal the win.

Dan Vilkys again led the team in scoring with 22 points with a vital 19 from Richard Ese and 12 more from Zydrunas Valancius.

The Gladiators now top Suffolk League Division Two with a perfect 4-0 record and travel to Thetford to take on Forest Heath Harriers this week.

Full details can be found through the Gladiators’ website at or email


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