Jnr. NBL Final Fours 2018 - Sunday Recap

Under 14 Girls

Live Stats - U14 Girls Playoff Final – London Youngbloods Lions 57 v 73 Oaklands College Wolves

U14 Girls 3rd/4th Place Playoff – Richmond Knights 66 v 52 City of Sheffield Hatters

London Youngblood Lions 57 v 73 Oaklands College Wolves

A 25-9 final period took the Under 14 Girls Playoff Final in Oakland’s favour after a closely contested game to that point. A tied ball game at 48-48 to end the 3rd period, the Lions will be left to ponder what might have been after letting this one slip away.

The MVP award went to Oakland’s Onyi Okoye after a 19 point, 19 rebound double-double. Her performance was the perfect complement to her 28 point, 11 rebound effort in yesterday’s semi-final to cap an incredible weekend for the youngster.

London’s Tinu Fakule did everything she could to tip the game in her side’s favour, but even with a stat line of 19 points and 27 rebounds, it still wasn’t enough.

Richmond Knights 66 v 52 City of Sheffield Hatters

For the second year in a row, Richmond were able to pip the Sheffield Hatters to 3rd place in the U14 Girls competition.

Leading 36-32 at the end of the first half, only four Richmond players had troubled the scorers but three had made it into double digits. Olivia O’Connell (12), Lauryn Masawi (10) and Molly Lavin (10) were all looking dangerous, with Abbey Whitehouse and Alice Fallon providing resistance for Sheffield.

O’Connell and Lavin both turned on the jets in the second half to finish with 23 and 21 points respectively, and Sheffield were unable to keep up. Whitehouse’s 16 and Fallon’s 17 were good performances, but no other Hatters’ player made it past 5 points.

Under 14 Boys

Live Stats - U14 Boys Playoff Final – Team Solent Kestrels 75 v 50 Brentwood Fire

U14 Boys 3rd/4th Place Playoff – City of Birmingham 68 v 51 Manchester Magic

Team Solent Kestrels 75 v 50 Brentwood Fire

The first Final of the day on court 3 went the way of Team Solent Kestrels after a classy performance against Brentwood Fire. With a second spectacular display in as many days, Solent’s George Clarke was able to secure the MVP award. He had a game high 20 points to go with eight rebounds, two assists and a pair of blocks.

In the early going Brentwood were able to match their opponents but after that the conference side fell away and couldn't put the finishing touches on a fairy tale post season run. Down by five at the first change, that deficit grew to 11 at the half and 17 at three quarter time.

Brentwood can be proud of their efforts though as they’ve punched well above their weight during the playoffs, with their single point win over home town favourites Manchester yesterday a  definite highlight.

“I’m just absolutely thrilled! Ecstatic!” said Team Solent Kestrels Head Coach Khalid Missouri. “I’ve been coaching these guys for three years now and this is culmination of really, really hard work. Most importantly, I’m so pleased for the boys. They really deserve this!”

City of Birmingham 68 v 51 Manchester Magic

In a great advert for the age group over on court 3, City of Birmingham emerged victorious to claim 3rd place against Manchester.

For the second day in a row, Rockets’ guard Tyrese Lacey impressed those in attendance, this time settling for 18 points after his 35-point explosion yesterday. Lacey received good support from Ali Abushego who finished with 17 as Birmingham transitioned a 39-25 advantage at the half into a 17-point win. Bradley May top scored for Manchester with 14.

Under 16 Girls

Live Stats - U16 Girls Playoff Final - GCA Haringey Angels 44 v 60 Sevenoaks Suns

U16 Girls 3rd/4th Place Playoff - City of Sheffield Hatters 58 v 69 Ipswich 

GCA Haringey Angels 44 v 60 Sevenoaks Suns

Sevenoaks claimed the first title of this year’s Jnr. NBL Final Fours with a comfortable victory over Southern rivals GCA Haringey Angels. MVP honours went to Sevenoaks' Asha Andrews, who won the U14 MVP at last year’s Final Fours. The talented guard led all scorers with 18 points to go with five rebounds and five assists.

It was Suns’ shooter Charlotte Redhead (13 points, six rebounds, three assists, two blocks) that took control of the early going, scoring eight in the game’s opening quarter as the Suns led 13-12 at the first break. Both sides remained evenly matched in a defensive second, leaving the score poised 23-22 Sevenoaks by half time.

It was the third quarter that would decide the game though as both Andrews and Redhead would go through the gears to build a sizable lead for their team. With plenty of assistance on the defensive end, a 22-7 3rd broke the game open and left Haringey with too much to do.

“It was a tough game, which is what we expected,” said Suns’ Head Coach Kapil Kumar. “The key thing was to focus, we needed to be great defensively. We learned from yesterday, worked as a five on defence and did fantastic. It was spot on!”

City of Sheffield Hatters 58 v 69 Ipswich

Ipswich ended their season by locking up 3rd place in the country after a hard-fought victory over Sheffield. The early exchanges were punctuated by plenty of high effort plays as every point was earned from both sides. That was reflected in the 18-17 Ipswich lead after 1.

Although Ipswich would head to the break up 39-26, the Hatters refused to go quietly in the 2nd half. With 6:30 left in the contest, the difference between the sides was down to just three at 52-49, but that was as close as it would get. The Suffolk side went through the gears to finish, with the margin of victory finally settling at 11.

Under 16 Boys

Live Stats - U16 Boys Playoff Final – Manchester Magic 55 v 71 Haringey Hawks

U16 Boys 3rd/4th Place Playoff – London Greenhouse Pioneers 60 v 67 Ipswich 

Manchester Magic 55 v 71 Haringey Hawks

Haringey quietened the local fans as they beat Manchester to claim the U16 Boys Playoff title. Franklin Agu wwas named the game’s MVP award after an 11-point performance, but the young forward’s main influence was on the glass after he collected an impressive 20 rebounds.

The game started quickly, getting the travelling Hawks’ fans and the numerous Magic supporters in attendance involved from the outset. With big blocks, great drives and highlight plays, it was a breathless opening quarter than ended 21-17 Haringey. Manchester’s Dan Gargan (8 points, four rebounds) scored all his points in the opening frame, with Haringey’s Leslie Smith (10 points, three rebounds, six steals, three assists) contributing 7 in reply.

After the Hawks stretched their advantage going into half time, they came out from the main change with a bang as a 16-6 run ballooned their lead to 19 at 57-38. Manchester replied but it was still a 62-49 ball game with 10 minutes remaining.

Magic gave their fans hope as they opened the 4th on a 6-0 streak to trim the difference to just 7, but a 9-0 run in reply from Haringey sealed the game.

“We’ve been to the Final Fours a number of times. Finalists, third place. We said before this year that we’ve been bridesmaids too many times, we have to win. It paid off!” said Haringey Head Coach Franck Batimba. “This means everything to us. Things like this help to give kids in Haringey some focus, and that’s really important.”

London Greenhouse Pioneers 60 v 67 Ipswich

Ipswich secured another 3rd placed finish on Sunday as their U16 boys emulated the U16 girls from earlier in the day. It was a close fought game though as Ipswich never led by more than 4 at any break in play.

Roared on by some vocal support and the watching U16 girls side, Ipswich continued to match their opponents throughout and they needed to as London pushed them all the way. A 33-30 score line was reflective of the even nature of the contest and that trend continued as the 3rd quarter ended 51-47. In the end, the Suffolk side got the breaks down the stretch to give them some breathing room, claiming 3rd place in the process.

Under 18 Women

Live Stats - U18 Women Playoff Final – Southwark Pride 53 v 40 Charnwood College Riders

U18 Women 3rd/4th Place Playoff – GCA Haringey Angels 59 v 41 Manchester Mystics 

Southwark Pride 53 v 40 Charnwood College Riders

Southwark recorded a historic triple as they won the U18 Women’s title for the third year in a row. In a scrappy game against rivals Charnwood, the Pride were able to grind this one out and get their hands on the playoff title.

Megan Haines was awarded MVP honours as she led all scorers with 22 points, adding four rebounds and two steals. Only four Southwark players had troubled the scorers deep into the fourth, with Esther Oluade (10 points, four assists), Maya Hyacienth (nine points, eight rebounds) and Mia Sarkodee-Adoo (12 points eight rebounds) the main contributors.

Charnwood went 3/13 from range in the first quarter, but still managed to lead 13-9 at the first change. Imogen Cook (13 points, three rebounds, three assists) was the only Riders' player to made it into double digits as the Midlands side shot 22% from the floor in the contest.

Despite their struggles, Charnwood were firmly in the game at three quarter time, trailing by just four at 32-28. A telling run in the final frame by Southwark eventually helped them to a double digit win.

“Sometimes you don’t win pretty, but it’s about grinding out wins,” said Southwark Head Coach Jackson Gibbons. “If I could give advice to any aspiring coach, get a good culture. If you have that, your team will find a way to get the basketball down. It’s never over until it’s over and you’ve got to keep grinding and pushing. The team did that today and I’m really proud.”

GCA Haringey Angels 59 v 41 Manchester Mystics

In a bounce back performance from the Angels, they were able to assert their dominance on Manchester and secure 3rd place in the U18 Women’s competition. After losing out to eventual winners Southwark yesterday, Coach Bowmaker’s side were able to regroup and find the performance they needed.

A third quarter blitz sealed this one for the London side as an even game in the first half quickly became one sided after the break. The Mystics were actually in possession of the lead at the half , up by a single point at 23-22, but 10 minutes later the score line had been comfortably reversed to leave GCA up 40-31.

The final quarter provided no let up for the Mystics as the difference continued to grow. Despite receiving significant local support, the home town fans couldn’t will their team back into this one as they fell to defeat.

Under 18 Men

Live Stats - U18 Men Playoff Final – Manchester Magic 73 v 71 Myerscough College

U18 Men 3rd/4th Place Playoff – Team Birmingham Elite 67 v 74 London Thunder-Lewisham 

Manchester Magic 73 v 71 Myerscough College (OT)

The Jnr. NBL Final Fours saved the best for last as an instant classic between two local powerhouses gave the NBL’s season finale a fitting climax. Magic’s Michael Anumba was a worthy MVP winner as he led all scorers with 25 points to go with 13 rebounds and four assists.

Early in the 2nd quarter, Manchester looked to be running away with the game as they led 27-14 and had momentum on their side. Myerscough dug deep to reduce that gap to 7 though, trailing 36-29 after two.

That run continued for ‘Sco as they kept plugging away once play resumed. With a little over two minutes remaining in the 3rd, Myerscough were in the midst of a 16-1 run to end the quarter. Callan Low (15 points, six rebounds, six assists, three steals) and Lewis McGlasson (17 points, two rebounds) were both key to that charge and the College side led the contest at 54-48 as the 3rd frame ended.

A thrilling final quarter saw Manchester mount a comeback of their own, with Anumba proving his worth with each basket and Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists) coming up big with some key plays. None were bigger than his drive and lay-up with 12 seconds to go, tying the game up at 65. Low would take one last shot for Myerscough but it was a tough one down low that wouldn’t fall, sending the game to OT.

With the extra period taking the hugely involved crowd up another level, each play just made the noise inside the National Performance Centre grow and grow. It was a tight and tense five minutes, but Manchester had the best of it. A three pointer from Magic’s Sam Fuge put his side up 71-67 with 1:15 to go, and that proved to be the knockout blow. The teams swapped baskets for the final 60 seconds but Myerscough couldn’t find a way back. Mate Okros (eight points, six rebounds) did get the difference down to just two at 73-71, but with five seconds left there was little else that Myerscough could do.

“We’ve been trying for the last few years to do this now with the U18s, I’m really proud of them,” said Manchester Head Coach Peter Paraskeva. “The crowd were next level, we needed that. At the end we were struggling for energy and had guys fouled out, our club really needed it. I had no idea what was going to happen at the end! I knew we’d get it close but to take it to overtime and go from there was special.”

“To be down by so much, and then to fight back and be up by six, and then Manchester brought it back, it’s tough,” said Low. “I'm proud of the guys though. They really showed fight to come back from where we were, even though it didn’t end our way.”

Team Birmingham Elite 67 v 74 London Thunder-Lewisham

Despite being out of contention for a top two finish, both these sides played a hard fought game in a battle for 3rd place. Those honours eventually went to London Thunder-Lewisham as they were just about able to keep their opponents at bay.

Trailing 19-18 at the end of the 1st quarter, Thunder used that as a wake up call to take control. Outscoring Birmingham in the next two quarters provided a nice cushion heading into the last, with Coach Bucknall's side leading 67-55 with 10 minutes to play. From there Lewisham were able to see the game out, keeping the difference comfortable as time ticked down to the final buzzer.