Greig City Academy (GCA) came away from the Dynamik National School Finals with both their U14 and U16 girls having clinched the respective championship crowns at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester over the weekend.
GCA’s U14 girls won through to a second final in as many days for the Hornsey-based academy on Sunday via a 65-52 semi success against Aylesbury High and they went on to prevail again with a dominant 62-30 triumph over Nottingham Academy.
That glorious ending capped a terrific two days for the GCA contingent as, just 24 hours earlier, the U16s also tasted glory by registering Ws versus the same two opponents – Aylesbury High (53-43 in the SFs) and Nottingham Academy (63-44 in the final).
All pictures by Marlan Henry (Twitter handle: @create_often).
“I’m just delighted and over the moon for this group of kids,” commented Greig City Academy’s head coach Dan Bowmaker.
“They will be really happy when they come into school with their medals around their necks on Monday morning and two new plaques to add to the wall. There will be big smiles.”
Bowmaker added: “We have been very fortunate to have had some very good players over the years and, when the younger girls start in Year Seven, they look up to the older ones and realise that there is an expectation that you can compete at the national level. That old adage that success breeds success is probably a part of the story.
“We’re hoping that this good group of kids can come through and win the U16 national title again next year. If we can do that, it would be a real plus for us.”
Aylesbury High finished third in the U16 girls’ category after an 81-74 victory against Reddish Vale High, who avenged that defeat a day later in the U14s’ age group with an 82-64 win to claim bronze medals.
Sandwiched in between GCA’s two title tilts was a win for Christ’s School in the U14 boys’ competition.
Christ’s sent out an early statement of their intentions by registering a three-digit score in their last-four tussle against Angmering School (100-70).
They may not have quite reached those same heady heights in the subsequent showdown versus Philip’s High, but they still won pretty comfortably (88-69) with something to spare in the final reckoning.
“They deserve it as they’ve worked really hard all year,” said Christ’s School coach Andrew Wallace (above).
“We’re very familiar with the London school teams and used to playing in and around the capital.
“But, we wanted to show our talent on a national level and there’s no better place to do that than at the Final Fours. I’m just so very proud of all 12 guys.
“This is the first group from Richmond to ever even come to the Final Fours and the good thing is four of the starting five are Year Eights. Only the MVP (below, in yellow) is going on to Year 10, so we’re hoping to be back here next year. It’s going to be good fun.”
Angmering partially offset the disappointment of not making it through to the U14 boys’ final by winning the third/fourth place playoff game 76-57 against Great Baddow High, who themselves had earlier lost to Philip’s High 75-67 in the other SF.
Meanwhile, Northampton School for Boys (NSB) emerged victorious from the U16 boys’ tournament with narrow wins over Bristol Met Academy (62-56) and Evelyn Grace Academy (83-75) in the semis and final respectively.
Bristol Met Academy completed the podium picture by winning the 3rd/4th place playoff 72-40 against Durham Johnstone School, who had previously lost to Evelyn Grace Academy 71-44.
“Every game they’ve had since probably the quarter-finals could have gone either way so to come all of the way through is a relief for them, but I couldn’t be prouder of them. I’m really impressed,” stated NSB head coach Gary Burton.
“It would be almost impossible for that team to retain the title next year as we’re at an awkward transitional phase with this particular group of players.
“But, we’ve got a lot of really positive teams coming up through the school so the future of basketball at the school looks very good and – to get more national titles – you’ve just got to keep working hard and hope it comes off.”
The Dynamik National School Finals followed on from the inaugural Basketball England & FIBA ‘BE a Baller’ Day on Friday.
In what was an all-day celebration of the sport, schoolchildren from across the country participated in games and shooting challenges and also took up the opportunity to experience wheelchair basketball as well.#
The games were played in a modified 4x4 format and on court floors that had been reduced in length and width from the regular dimensions of a basketball court – two initiatives specifically aimed at the U12s/Year Seven students.
This FIBA-funded pilot programme is designed to attract even more young people to basketball and equip coaches and teachers with the necessary tools to do so.