The Holy Trinity (New York Knicks), Philips High (Boston Celtics), Queensbridge (Charlotte Hornets) and Woodlands (Philadelphia 76ers) were the four schools to emerge victorious from the Jr. NBA Finals Day at Leicester Arena on Tuesday.
Queensbridge beat St Bede’s (Los Angeles Lakers) 16-15 courtesy of a dramatic golden basket from the free-throw line to be crowned Birmingham champions, while Philips High also edged a tight tussle against Cheadle Hulme High (Phoenix Suns) 33-30 to narrowly win the Manchester competition. The two London tournaments were more one-sided affairs, with Holy Trinity overcoming Platanos Academy (Phoenix Suns) by a 20-point margin (49-29) in the boys’ final and Woodlands bettering Clapton Girls (Memphis Grizzlies) by 10 more (38-8) in the girls’ equivalent encounter.
The top three school sides in each regional category came away with a certificate and either a bronze medal, a silver medal or – fittingly – an NBA-style, gold championship ring on the day, which also saw NBA ambassador and former Portland Trail Blazers center Audie Norris lead a NBA Cares coaching clinic and the kids participate in a Spalding Shooting Challenge.
“We’re naturally very pleased to have won the tournament having come up against two quality opponents with some outstanding players,” commented Philips High (Boston Celtics) coach Gary Davies. “The level of competition has gotten harder as we’ve gone along, so it has been great in that regard. Our players have really bought into the whole ethos of this concept, as well as the affinity with their NBA team, and the travelling aspect has added another exciting element to it all.”
Queensbridge (Charlotte Hornets) coach Dave Spicer said: “The NBA brand alone attracts kids at the end of the day. “We try and run all of our sports teams quite professionally, so it’s all about portraying the right image for every single side. But, as soon as you have got a name like the NBA associated with a competition, it will attract players and the most important thing is that it keeps them. “They love the kits as well and they’ve all bitten the bug. Every single one of our kids has already said ‘Can we play in this next year?’ The whole experience of feeling like a pro basketballer is unreal and the support from the NBA is great.”
Woodlands coach James Gardner stated: “We love this Jr. NBA tournament. Our girls have all gone online and looked at the Philadelphia 76ers as that’s who we’re representing here. They follow the NBA on Instagram and – without this tournament – they may not necessarily have done that. They don’t stop talking about it and I think it’s great for them.”
Charlie Ford, Basketball England’s Education and Satellite Clubs Manager, commented: “This Jr. NBA Finals Day has got our ‘Schools Finals Week’ off to a fine start here at Leicester Arena and all of the players came away having really enjoyed themselves. I’d like to thank the NBA and our other corporate partners for making events like the Jr. NBA League possible as such initiatives can only serve to promote this sport of ours in the best possible way at the grassroots level.”
The Jr. NBA League was created for 11-12 year old boys and girls in secondary schools to participate in basketball. The league is organised and operated by Basketball England in partnership with the NBA. The league features 30 Jr. NBA Basketball England League school teams that each represent one of the 30 NBA teams throughout the season. For further information about the Jr. NBA League season, visit: www.basketballengland.co.uk/playcompete/education/junior-nba-league and/or: www.jrnbaleague.uk
Birmingham: Eastern Conference Semi-Final: Charlotte Hornets/Queensbridge School 19-18 Philadelphia 76ers/Bishop Vesey Grammar School. Western Conference Semi-Final:LA Lakers/St Bede’s School 17-16 San Antonio Spurs/George Salter Academy. Third/Fourth Place Play-Off: Philadelphia 76ers/Bishop Vesey Grammar School 12-15 San Antonio Spurs/George Salter Academy. Final: Charlotte Hornets/Queensbridge School 16-15 LA Lakers/St Bede’s School.
London Co-Ed: Eastern Conference Semi-Final: New York Knicks/The Holy Trinity School 29-26 Chicago Bulls/St Bonaventure’s School. Western Conference Semi-Final: Phoenix Suns/Platanos Academy 22-17 LA Lakers/Evelyn Grace Academy. Third/Fourth Place Play-Off: Chicago Bulls/St Bonaventure’s School 45-5 LA Lakers/Evelyn Grace Academy. Final: New York Knicks/The Holy Trinity School 49-29 Phoenix Suns/Platanos Academy.
London Girls: Eastern Conference Semi-Final: Charlotte Hornets/St Angela’s School 12-23 Philadelphia 76ers/Woodlands School. Western Conference Semi-Final: LA Lakers/Evelyn Grace Academy 5-14 Memphis Grizzlies/Clapton Girls School. Third/Fourth Place Play-Off: Charlotte Hornets/St Angela’s School 25-6 LA Lakers/Evelyn Grace Academy. Final: Philadelphia 76ers/Woodlands School 38-8 Memphis Grizzlies/Clapton Girls School.
Manchester: Eastern Conference Semi-Final: Chicago Bulls/The Manchester Grammar School 23-36 Boston Celtics/Philips High School. Western Conference Semi-Final: Portland Trailblazers/Our Ladys RC High School 15-36 Phoenix Suns/Cheadle Hulme High School. Third/Fourth Place Play-Off: Chicago Bulls/The Manchester Grammar School 20-8 Portland Trailblazers/Our Ladys RC High School. Final: Boston Celtics/Philips High School 33-30 Phoenix Suns/Cheadle Hulme High School.