14/18ths of the way through the season and still all to play for, although bets are getting hard to come by on some teams as I will discuss later...
Everything is still very much possible in the A League where no sensible punter would bet on the outcome. The Principals completed the double over the Dolphin with a 170 - 149 win with very solid scoring all round. Alan Gilday had his best night of the season with 39, the same score as Graham Bailey. Lesley Davies got a season's best 33, and Alan Levitt had the same score. If 33 is the lowest individual score of the night, that adds up to a pretty powerful team performance. Peter McBride with 39 and Stuart Rowbotham with 30 (in only his 3rd League start of the season) contributed to what was still a very respectable score for the Dolphin.
Elsewhere the Ox-fford beat the Dolphin Dragons by a very similar game score (172 - 147), Mark Watson (48) and Liz Horrocks (42) top scored for the Ox-fford and Dragons respectively.
At the other end of the table, the Church House Bollington enjoyed a narrow 5 point win over their follow promoted team from last year in the New Castle. Rick Davis continued his very solid scoring with another 30 for the Church House (taking him into the Top 10 individuals) and Graham Wallace scored a season's best 39 for the New Castle.
In the B League, some things are much clearer. The British Flag are guaranteed promotion to the A League - well done indeed - and they must be odds-on favourites for the B League title with only the Harrington Academicals (6 points behind) now able to catch them. The Flag beat the Waters Green Wonderers by a handsome margin with Neil Drummond (39), Helen Laurence (30) and Tony Browne (27) all contributing major scores.
The Academicals enjoyed another good win over the Lamb Inn, Dave Partington (33) and Mike Hewitt (27) enjoying season's best scores. Closest B League game of the night was at the Baths Hotel, who just lost by 5 points to the ever-improving Plough Taverners who have won 3 out of their last 4 games to move into 3rd place.
Having lost their first 8 games of the season, the George & Dragon have now won their last 4 on the bounce to move towards mid-table. Malcolm Asquith (33) was supported by a fine Jeater family effort with Pat and Annie both scoring 27 each, in helping the G&D to a 12 point win over the Three Crowns. I would also like to welcome back Alasdair Reid to the League who debuted this week with a fine 33 for the Three Crowns. Alasdair played many years ago for CAP and even the Gardeners Question Team for those of you who are old enough to go that far back...welcome back Alasdair.
The top of the table clash in the C League produced a win for the Knot Inn over the Puss Artists. Like the British Flag, the Knot Inn just need 1 more point to be guaranteed a place in the B League next season and look favourites for the title with a 6 point lead over the Puss, albeit having played 1 game moire. Brian Bogie from the Knot equalled Geoff Parkin's best C League score of the season with 48 whilst Art Higham weighed in with 42.
Closest match of the night saw the Waters Green Rams just beating the Albion by two points. The Albion, freshly shaven after last week's kerfuffle, did very well with Jenny Wright scoring a season's best 27, the same score as John Hargreaves. The Rams just edged it though thanks to an excellent 39 from Adum Carr, ably supported by 27 from Tracey Crellin, both season's best performances.
Elsewhere, the Park Tavern beat the Prince of Wales with Nick Lloyd-Griffiths (27) leading the way for the Park, whilst the Sutton Church House beat the Chester Road Tavern by 6 points with Betty Dobson and Barrie McQuinn contributing 24 each. Steve Moores had a season's best 42 for the Chester Road.
Individually speaking, the final "Top 3" in the C League will be surely be Andy Bailey, Brian Bogie and John Hargreaves, the only question remains in what order.
Speaking of personal scores, we are now at the stage of the season when only either the best 11 (A League) or 12 (B & C Leagues) individual scores from however many games you have played are counted. Several players have now played more games than these numbers. Just in case anyone was wondering why their totals had not increased as much as they thought they should have…