Four highly-competitive teams battled it out in the Jr. NBA East Midlands Finals at Loughborough University on Friday, which resulted in the Washington Wizards of Northampton School for Boys leaving victorious.
With the resident DJ’s beats resonating across the vast gym, the scene was set as Year 7 students from across the region filed in early, sporting the jerseys of their affiliated NBA team. After a thorough warm-up, with spectators and highly expressive parents lining the perimeter of both courts, both of the conference finals tipped off.
Cleveland Cavaliers/West Park School vs Washington Wizards/Northampton School for Boys
Over in the East, the Wizards faced the Cleveland Cavaliers of West Park in what became fairly one-sided very quickly. With a brand of fast-break basketball, the Northampton side came out of the blocks in style, gaining a double-digit lead that just continued to grow. While shooting effectively when given the chance, the Wizards also found ways to penetrate the Cavs defence to the point of no return, as they advanced to the final.
Denver Nuggets/Carre’s Grammar School vs Dallas Mavericks/Ellis Guilford School
Meanwhile, just metres away, the Denver Nuggets of Carre’s Grammar School went head-to-head with the Dallas Mavericks of Ellis Guilford School in Basford. The tone of the game was set within the first quarter, as the Mavs limited the Nuggets to 0 points before the break and a mere 3 points in the entire first half. While things definitely improved for Carre’s Grammar in the subsequent periods, it wasn’t enough as the dominant Ellis Guilford earned a 17-11 win that took them into the final.
3RD /4th PLACE FINAL
Denver Nuggets/Carre’s Grammar School vs Cleveland Cavaliers/West Park School
Despite both teams losing their opening games, the energy and commitment within this battle for 3rd place was exceptional. A strong start from the Cavaliers put them on front foot most of the game. Despite some intense defensive play, they walked into half time with a 7-point lead.
The Nuggets were not going to lay down that easily however, as they rallied together to produce a thrilling comeback in the final period, after trailing for the entire game. Despite going into the 4th quarter with a 5-point deficit to overcome, they drew level with under a minute to go. When the Cavs committed a foul in the closing moments, Carre’s Grammar took advantage and made a key free throw to win the game in dramatic fashion. Their 14-13 victory meant that the Nuggets finished in 3rd, while the unfortunate Cavaliers went winless on the day.
JR. NBA FINAL
Washington Wizards/Northampton School For Boys vs Dallas Mavericks/Ellis Guilford School
After an entertaining day of basketball, the title game took place as the student competed for Jr. NBA championship rings. Nerves were on show early, as both teams turned the ball over frequently, keeping the score for the first half at just 10-9 in favour of the Wizards.
It truly was tail of two halves however, as both teams came out stronger in the 3rd quarter. The was marginal for the majority of the game, as the lengthy Mavs defence caused problems for the slashing Wizards forwards. However, when called upon in the 4th, the Wizards found themselves in rhythm. They broke down the Mavs with skilful drives, most notably by their leading scorer Ethan – also the winner of the event’s shooting contest – who stood out as a real talent with his ‘point forward’ skillset.
The game ended 26-17 to the Wizards, who tore away from the Mavs at the end to claim the Jr. NBA title and bookend a tremendous event.