SO another season passes for the Cheshire Jets.
The first professional team in Chester to establish fan-ownership to save the club back in 2007, last season they reached two finals and finished fourth in the BBL Championship.
They achieved the same league position in 2010/11 without reaching the BBL Trophy or Cup finals, so did the team move forward?
Jets head coach Paul Smith gave his answer after Sunday’s BBL Play-off defeat to Mersey Tigers – Jets’ first post-season semi final since 2005.
“We broke up the squad last summer,” he said. “It was getting old.
“Normally when you revamp you go back a bit but we haven’t, we were closer to the top in terms of wins and losses than last year and finished fourth with a lot of adversity – we lost our starting centre for half the season – so I feel we’ve improved.”
And he is right. Though relying on defence, the Jets were exciting to watch.
Beating the Newcastle Eagles with seconds to go, almost throwing away a 22-point lead at the Tigers, beating MK Lions 108-106 at the Northgate Arena, games like that captured the imagination.
And had it not been for Matt Schneck’s suspension the Jets may have even won the league.
The rookie centre from Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin burst onto the scene straight out of college and dominated teams, becoming the BBL’s biggest rebounder despite his absence with an average 10-per-game.
When a dope test showed up a stimulant in his system, he was banned for three months after anti-doping authorities accepted it was accidental.
In that time the Jets slipped and every one of his teammates said the same thing – they needed Matt.
When he returned – minus the stimulant but as good as before – so did the Jets’ form.
They remained in the title race until just a few weeks ago, pushing the Eagles and eventual champions the Tigers hard.
The mix of Quemont Greer’s class, the incredible scoring of Jeremy Bell – which saw him finish the season the BBL’s top scorer with 759 points – the work-rate of Gareth Murray the leadership of O’Reilly and Smith and the experience of Davis and Gayle ensured the Jets kept fans on the edge of their seats.
Now Smith has the summer to plan how to do it all again.