Jnr. NBL Final Fours 2019 - Sunday Recap

U14 Girls

U14 Girls Playoff Final – Manchester Mystics 53 v 46 Ipswich

Captain Liv Forster’s huge double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds was enough to swing a low scoring U14 Girls Playoff Final in Manchester’s favour as they beat Ipswich 53-46.

Despite Forster’s efforts, it was Ipswich who enjoyed the best of the opening frame as they moved into a 16-13 lead behind baskets from Olivia Manning (12 points, nine rebounds) and Hannah Gray (12 points, 20 rebounds).

Manchester would rally in the 2nd though, working hard to get themselves back on level terms and they got their reward midway through the quarter. Eleni Vourliotis’ (eight points, five rebounds) layup pushed the Magic ahead by 1, a position they’d retain to head to the half time break up 24-22.

Forster would then help to solidify her side’s position as she scored 8 points personal in the 3rd as Magic took the frame 17-12. A seven-point lead with 10 minutes to go made Manchester far from a certainty to take the contest, but they showed significant poise in the 4th quarter to earn the title of Playoff champions.

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U14 Girls 3rd/4th Playoff – Richmond Knights 73 v 84 London Youngblood Lioness Cubs

29 points from Ines Goryanova and 18 rebounds from Leia Edwards were more than enough to see London Youngblood Lioness Cubs past Richmond Knights 84-73.

Goryanova and Edwards proved to be a handful for Richmond from the get-go, causing problems around the basket as London led 19-12 after 1. That lead stretched out to 45-29 by the half following a 15-0 run for much of the 2nd quarter.

By the end of the 3rd quarter, the Youngblood’s lead was flirting with the 30-point mark, though credit to the Knights as they battled had in the closing 5 minutes, winning the final quarter 34-17 behind the efforts of Avalon Patel (18 points, five assists, six steals) and Amba Thompson (14 points, 10 rebounds).

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U14 Boys

U14 Boys Playoff Final – Manchester Magic 76 v 67 London United

Four different Magic players all scored 15 or more points as Manchester used multiple avenues to beat London United 76-67.

Lucas Ricketts (18 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Ben Brown (15 points, five rebounds, four assists) both provided a versatile scoring threat, Olu Akinlade (16 points, 14 rebounds) put together a big double-double as he was a handful in the paint, and Tom Kelly (16 points, seven rebounds) went 3/7 from beyond the arc as Manchester displayed an all-round game plan to win the U14 Playoff title.

 That offensive output allowed Manchester to lead this one tip to buzzer, but London United certainly made the game interesting late on. With Manchester up by double digits for most of the 2nd half, United found their groove down the stretch and reduced their deficit to just a single point midway through the 4th. That spurred the North West side into life though and they went on a 16-6 run to put the game to bed.

Captain Liam Campbell top scored for London United with 16 points to go with seven boards, Aaqib Khan scored 13 points and Joe Codner added 10 more.

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U14 Boys 3rd/4th Playoff – London Youngblood Lions 52 v 80 Baltic Stars London

Baltic Stars claimed 3rd place in the U14 Boys competition as they eased past London Youngblood Lions 80-52.

Strong performances from Nedas Cholevinskas (27 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals) and Astijus Kusas (21 points, four rebounds, five steals) helped power the Stars offence on a day when London went 0-19 from long range.

Leading 46-32 by the half, Baltic Stars were able to push on from there, thwarting the Lions’ efforts at reducing their arrears whilst moving even further ahead themselves. Ben Reid-Akinmoladun continued his solid form after a good performance in yesterday’s Semi-Final, he had a team high 13 points adding nine rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Youngbloods.

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U16 Girls

U16 Girls Playoff Final – Richmond Knights 50 v 56 Sevenoaks Suns

Richmond enjoyed a 16-point lead during the U16 Girls Playoff Final but couldn’t make it count as Sevenoaks came storming back to win 56-50.

After an even start to the game, Richmond went on a 13-2 tear to put some distance between themselves and the unbeaten Suns, thanks largely to some slick ball movement and pressure on defence. Sevenoaks would score 14 of the half’s remaining 17 points to reduce their deficit to 35-30 by the main change.

The start of the 2nd half was very much like the start of the 1st, with both teams looking evenly matched as the 5-point gap was largely maintained. With Asha Andrews (17 points, five rebounds) still lurking and forward Poppy Herd (12 points, six rebounds) also enjoyed a fine game, Sevenoaks were poised to strike.

And strike they did. Despite the efforts of Emilie Black (18 points, nine rebounds) and Molly Lavin (six points, 14 rebounds, two assists, two steals) there was a lid on the basket for the Knights that they simply couldn’t find a way past. A 13-1 final frame to the Suns helped Sevenoaks secure the U16 Girls Playoff title for the 2nd year in a row.

MVP honours went to Sevenoaks’ Tamara Fournillier-Onadeko after a dominant double-double of 15 points and 16 rebounds. She added five assists and seven steals for good measure.

Sevenoaks Suns MVP Tamara Fournillier-Onadeko: “It’s an honour [to be MVP] but it’s a team sport and a team effort. We came back from a 16-point deficit but nobody put their head down, it was positive with great energy. Everyone is emotional at the moment but this is such a great feeling. Great memories!”

Sevenoaks Suns Coach Len Busch: “It was a great win, very happy for the girls. Finish the season undefeated. Richmond are tough, we were down but we maintained our composure and started to play better basketball to get ourselves ahead which was wonderful to see.”

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U16 Girls 3rd/4th Playoff – Derby Trailblazers 40 v 68 Sheffield Hatters

A spirited 2nd half from Derby wasn’t enough to overcome a slow start against local rivals Sheffield as the Hatters won 68-40 in the battle for 3rd and 4th place. Down 40-17 at the half, Derby left themselves in a position they couldn’t escape from, but they can still be proud of what they achieved during an encouraging 2018/19 season.

Sheffield’s stingy defence was on show throughout the game as they nabbed 21 steals and forced 32 turnovers. Hatter’s Abbey Whitehouse came close to a triple-double before ultimately falling just short with a game high 22 points, eight rebounds and 10 steals. Captain Zoe Kateregga was also on form, she scored 10 to go with 15 boards and an imposing five blocks.

After being severely limited with an ankle injury yesterday, Derby captain Neve Marvill was unable to suit up in this one. Kira Sklepic was the main player to pick up the slack for the Trailblazers, she scored a team high 10 points.

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U16 Boys

U16 Boys Playoff Final – Sussex Storm 85 v 67 Richmond Knights

Storm’s Cameron Hildreth continued his one-man assault on the U16 Boys competition as he scored a staggering 48 to propel Sussex to an 85-67 win. Hildreth time and again found a way to hit the mark regardless of his looks, shooting 19/36 for the game. Despite Richmond’s efforts, they just couldn’t slow down the eventual MVP.

The Knights had the best of the early going behind some up-tempo offence to start the game, leaping ahead following a 9-2 run. Unsurprisingly it was Hildreth that broke that streak, kicking the Storm offence into life but Sussex would trail 19-16 after 1.

The 2nd was an exciting back and forth affair. As Hildreth continued to pour it on, Sussex moved ahead and established a small lead of their own. Richmond fought back behind some solid play from Ridley Shema (15 points, nine rebounds) and Michael Belle (17 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals), leaving the game poised at 38-37 Sussex by the half.

In the 3rd, Sussex moved into a lead that they’d never relinquish. Hildreth scored 12 in the frame as the Storm took the quarter 25-16. His relentless efforts to drive the lane and attack the rim asked questions that the Knights couldn’t answer. In the final quarter the difference stretched into double digits as Hildreth and co. rolled to a well-deserved U16 Boys Playoff title.

Sussex Storm MVP Cam Hildreth: “Being MVP is amazing, absolutely amazing. I come into the game, but I’m not thinking about being MVP, I just want to win the game. They gave us a great battle and I just did what I need to do to help our team win.”

Sussex Storm Coach Mark Richards: “It’s been a long season, lots of ups and downs. Losing games we shouldn’t have lost, but you know, it’s nice to come out here and win at the Final Fours.”

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U16 Boys 3rd/4th Playoff – Manchester Magic 71 v 65 Baltic Stars London

Manchester Magic took home 3rd place in the U16 Boys competition after they found a way to handle a tough Baltic Stars side, winning 71-65.

Despite having 29 more shots than the Magic, the London side couldn’t make those looks count as they shot 31% from the floor compared to Manchester’s 49%. With Baltic Stars bringing with them some seriously vocal support throughout the weekend and Manchester enjoying home advantage, the atmosphere around court 2 was worthy of a Final.

Those fortunate enough to find a place to watch were able to enjoy Magic’s Noah Togo (18 points, six rebounds, six assists) and Stars’ Alonas Peciulis (11 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, eight steals) going head to head and fill up the stat sheet. Ultimately it would be Manchester who would prevail though, holding onto a single digit lead from the start of the 2nd quarter all the way to the final buzzer.

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U18 Women

U18 Women Playoff Final – Southwark Pride 57 v 40 Manchester Mystics

A 24-10 opening quarter provided the perfect platform for Southwark to claim their 4th successive U18 Women’s Playoff title as they beat Manchester 57-40.

The opening burst was fuelled by some big three-pointers from Megan Haines (19 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals) as the Pride got off to the perfect start. Manchester fought hard to try and claw their way back, particularly through Jade Mbam (17 points, seven rebounds, six steals, three blocks) but they still trailed 36-24 by the main change.

With strong defence often a calling card of Southwark’s time as a dominant force, that left Manchester in a precarious position. For all their efforts to try and find a way back into the contest, the London side wouldn’t allow it and continued to stand firm. The Southwark advantage reached double digits for much of the second half, including all of the 4th quarter, as Coach Gibbons’ side celebrated yet another post season success.

MVP honours went to Southwark’s Simona Henshaw as she went a perfect 5/5 from the floor to score 13 points, adding seven rebounds and a block for good measure. Henshaw’s physical performance was the embodiment of Southwark’s dominance on the glass, taking that battle 61-41.

Southwark Pride MVP Simona Henshaw: “This was hard, from minute 1 to minute 40, today and yesterday. We had to do this all together and I couldn’t have got this without them. We said we’d be resilient, committed, accountable to each other so when we made mistakes we’d fix them, but we pulled through and we did it!”

Southwark Pride Coach Jackson Gibbons: “I feel like we have a programme that has principles, and if the players buy into those principles we enjoy success. Me, I don’t care about its all about the players and their involvement. I’m especially happy for a player like MVP Simona Henshaw, she’s a kid that came to us and 100% bought into the values of the programme. She’s just proved that if you come in and buy in and do everything that you’re supposed to do, success will come your way. She’s a brilliant kid.”

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U18 Women 3rd/4th Playoff – Charnwood College Riders 62 v 72 Reading Rockets Academy

Charnwood couldn’t convert a 37-33 half time lead into a victory and 3rd place as they fell to Reading Rockets Academy 72-62.

The Riders started the game on fire, quickly establishing a big lead before the end of the 1st quarter. A 13-0 run helped build a 20-9 advantage after 1, but from there Reading began to fire. As quickly as Charnwood had built their lead, the Rockets had mostly erased it by the half, leaving the game finely balanced.

Reading’s exploits had built momentum though and by the end of the 3rd they were ahead themselves thanks to Paula Romero Tarrega (22 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, five steals) and Carmen Segura Moreno (16 points, two assists, three steals). Still, Lauren Saa (18 points, five assists, two steals, two blocks) in particular was fighting hard to keep the Riders in the game.

By the final frame, Charnwood was out of gas and couldn’t get their offence back in sync. A 22-16 final quarter capped a fine comeback from the Rockets and secured them a well-deserved 3rd place finish.

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U18 Men

U18 Men Playoff Final – Myerscough College 52 v 50 Haringey Hawks

The closing game of the Junior Final Fours contained high tension and fine margins as Myerscough avenged last season’s defeat in the U18 Men’s Playoff Final to go one better this time round.

Leading 44-36 going into the last, Myerscough were enjoying their biggest lead of the contest but it wasn’t to last as the Hawks came flying back. In a low scoring, defensive battle, every basket really was beginning to build in its importance and a 6-0 run to start the 4th almost put the teams back on level terms. All three baskets were scored by Ndwedo Newbury (21 points, 15 rebounds) as he was beginning to heat up.

Bradley Kaboza (eight points, five rebounds) scored 3 of his points in the final frame and his timely baskets coupled with Mate Okros’ (six points, seven rebounds, four assists) efforts kept Myerscough in touch and it would be Okros would be at the centre of one of the game’s biggest moments.

With Myerscough up by 2 with 12 seconds remaining, Haringey’s Alex Distras lost the ball and Okros recovered it. Jubilant at the turnover, Okros took off and was immediately called for a travel, handing the ball back to the Hawks. Elation turned to despair as the London club still had one more shot at a win, but a three-point attempt by Owen Young was blocked from behind by Myerscough’s Callan Low, securing the win and sending the U18 Playoff title to the North West.

Lewis McGlasson was selected as the game MVP as he enjoyed a team high 16 points in a game where none of his team mates made it into double digits.

Myerscough College MVP Lewis McGlasson: “We were just trying to calm everybody down [at the end of the game]. Execute some plays for the stretch to win the game. That’s what we did.”

Myerscough College Coach Troy Culley: “Sometimes you just gotta win ugly. We had a game plan coming in and we knew if we stuck to what we said it’d make things difficult for Haringey and put us in a position to compete. The guys saw it through, and in games like today you just have to find a way.”

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U18 Men 3rd/4th Playoff – Sussex Storm 61 v 60 Manchester Magic

Despite neither side making the showpiece Final of the U18 Boys competition, both Sussex and Manchester put on a thrilling game that was up in the air until the final few seconds. Ultimately it was Sussex that squeaked a win, taking the game 61-60.

The local Manchester fans looked a happy bunch come the half time break as their side enjoyed the best of the first 20 minutes to lead 33-24 by the interval. There was no keeping Sussex down though as that deficit would spur them on to a stirring comeback.

A 16-9 3rd quarter to Sussex left Manchester ahead by just 1 going into the last and that was only thanks to a Malachi Boakye-Yiadom (eight points, six rebounds) triple on the buzzer, otherwise Manchester would have been trailing.

With Cam Hildreth (20 points, 13 rebounds, three steals) heating up and captain Leo Musahl (18 points, four rebounds, three steals, three blocks) continuing his fine form from Saturday’s Semi-Final, the Storm were right back in it as the lead swung back and forth in the final quarter. Despite a layup by Manchester captain Jason Ani (13 points, five rebounds) with 12 ticks remaining to narrow the difference to just 1, that was as close as Manchester would come. They sent Sussex to the line to ice the game, but despite missing both shots, less than a second was left on the clock and the North West side couldn’t manage one final play.

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