Sussex Storm Overpower Baltic Stars to Win U16 Boys National Cup

Sussex Storm displayed a well-polished performance to beat Baltic Stars London 85-76 and win the Under 16 Boys National Cup.

Storm took the lead inside the 1st minute of the game, never looking back to stay ahead from that point on. The Stars did all they could to narrow the gap at various stages but couldn’t put together a sustained run to seriously trouble their opponents.

MVP honours went to Cameron Hildreth as the Sussex captain fill up the box score with a 27 points, 12 rebounds double-double to go with four assists and two steals.

Hildreth’s impact on the game was apparent from the get-go, scoring 10 of his points inside the contest’s opening 10 minutes. Repeatedly playing to his strengths and driving to the rim, the Stars’ early struggles to contain the talented point guard proved to be a sign of things to come. 9 points from Alonas Peciulis (29 points, 10 rebounds, two steals) helped keep the London side in contention, but Sussex led 24-19 going into the first change.

The 2nd period was when the Storm were really able to break the game open, using a 15-0 run to put daylight between themselves and the Stars. That streak was aided by Hildreth, but Max Gausden (17 points, five rebounds, five steals, four assists), Finlay Mitchell (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals) and Abdou Gaye (13 points, seven rebounds) all began to heat up before the half. That left London in a hole and trailing big at 51-34 going into the break.

The 2nd half saw Sussex pad their lead in the 3rd quarter before reaching their greatest advantage in the game, up 70-47 early in the 4th. Still, to the Stars’ credit they refused to quit and easily had the best of the game’s final frame. Reducing their deficit to single digits by the buzzer was an achievement in itself, and no doubt caused some nerves on the Storm bench. Nobunaga Okunola (21 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, two steals) was a catalyst to the comeback, scoring 9 points and pulling down four boards but when Peciulis fouled out with 41 ticks remaining, London’s slim chances of a comeback went to the bench with him.

Sussex Storm Head Coach Mark Richards, “We controlled the game in the beginning, but as the game went on we had some lapses, defensive end and the offensive end as well, turnovers, but we managed to hold on and get the win. We had some nerves in the end, but we were trying to rotate as well to give everyone some playing time, that made it tough but we did the job and got the win.”

Sussex Storm’s MVP Cameron Hildreth, “We’ve played really hard week in, week out and it felt like we put everything into this game. We played our hearts out on the court and we deserve this. We’re 2-0 against the Stars so far this year so that gave us some confidence but this was a one and done game and anything can happen, we made sure to give our all and did very well.”