The Nottingham Wildcats, Haringey Hawks, Southwark Pride and Myerscough Spinners all emerged victorious from the Jnr. NBL National Cup Finals Day here at Hertfordshire Sports Village on Saturday.
The Wildcats beat the Southend Swifts 61-47 thanks to stellar showings from MVP Maya Hyacienth (30 points, nine rebounds and three assists) and captain Brahe Ashton (14 points, six rebounds and five assists).
Southend’s skipper Katie Bennett (23 points, six rebounds and six assists) was the only Swifts baller to register double digits as their concerted challenge eventually fell away late on.
Nottingham’s eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter (18-10) had been halved by half-time (31-27) and all was certainly not lost for Southend as the Wildcats edged the third by only one point (47-42).
However, the Wildcats clinically closed out the last 10 minutes 14-5 to prevail by 14 at the buzzer.
“It’s a really amazing feeling,” commented Nottingham Wildcats U16 head coach Steve Lindsey.
“This is the first time we’ve been here and, to have come away with the win, I couldn’t have asked for more. It’s an incredible experience all round and it has been a great day.”
Lindsey added: “Maya is outstanding. She is one of the best young talents going at the minute and almost a flawless player.
All pictures by Mansoor Ahmed/@IamAhmedphotos.
“I also depend on Brahe an awful lot. She makes my job so much easier and leads by example. I know there’s someone always there who is going to put up the effort. She is very much a leader and a focal point in our side.”
The climactic clash in the boys’ U16 competition proved a far more one-sided affair as Haringey Hawks defeated Brentwood Fire 85-40.
Haringey’s Spyridon Kapsalos deservedly claimed the MVP award with 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists and he was ably assisted in the scoring stakes by Mohammed Sanni-Oba (17 points and 15 rebounds).
Cameron Morris (12 points) and Elliott Quail (10 points) also progressed beyond single-figure tallies for the high-flying Hawks.
Tim Adetukasi was the only player to respond in kind for Brentwood Fire as he came away with 12 points and as many rebounds in ultimately a losing effort.
To their great credit, the Fire still flickered through to the fourth and final quarter, where they scored 18 points and conceded 22.
However, the damage had already been done by that particular stage as Brentwood struggled to contain Haringey’s in-form offence for much of the previous half an hour on the court.
Indeed, it was a 41-point game at 63-22 to Hawks by the end of the third stanza (17-6, 32-11 & 14-5).
Haringey Hawks U16 head coach Franck Batimba said: “I’m really happy for the boys because they work so very hard and they deserve this trophy. It has taken a lot of energy, hours and sweat, but it’s all worth it.
“Our training is very intense, so the games are actually easier than our training sessions. They do a lot of running and physical stuff in training and it all worked out in our favour today. It means everything to us to have won a national title for the very first time.”
There was very little to separate Charnwood College Riders and Southwark Pride in the U18 women’s final until the third quarter, which the latter won 14-4 to go 38-25 in front. It had been 24-21 at half-time.
Charnwood reduced the arrears with a 15-11 fourth quarter, but not sufficiently enough to prevent Southwark from clasping the silverware following a 49-40 success for the side from south London.
A game-high 19 points from Southwark Pride’s Toyosi Abiola (including seven rebounds and two assists) saw her deservedly awarded the MVP accolade.
Anna Popovic topscored for Charnwood with 12 and the scoring was spread around the team, with Megan Jones, Ruchae Walton (both seven), Jessica Eadsforth-Yates and Ebony Horton (both six) sharing the responsibility on offence.
“Charnwood are always a good and well-prepared team,” said Southwark Pride coach Jackson Gibbons.
“We were never going to come here and win without fighting until the very last minute.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for them, so we wouldn’t expect anything less than the type of game that we had today.
“It was tough and we had to grind out the win. There was no point where we could relax during the game, even in the very last seconds.
“Toyosi has come a very long way in a short period of time. Her work ethic is through the roof. She is not afraid of hard work and deserves all of the rewards that she is getting. Today is her first National League MVP, so she’s very happy and I’m really pleased for her. But, everyone that got on the floor today made a good contribution.”
Finally, Myerscough Spinners captain Zion Tordoff led by example with 20 of his side’s points overall as they overcame London Thunder Lewisham 68-55.
Thunder’s skipper Josh Edwards chalked up a game-high 23 points as a see-saw showdown finally swung Myerscough’s way in the last 10 minutes.
“We’ve got some very talented guys, but the way we controlled the game is what counted for us,” said Myerscough head coach Mike Bernard.
“It was scrappy and the lead changed hands in the first two quarters, but the fact that we controlled it in the third and the fourth is what got us the win.
“Zion is a great player and he has got a big future ahead of him. He has improved so much – both physically and mentally, he’s gifted and he’s going to go far. He’s going to do a lot because he works so hard.”
Tickets for the three senior finals tomorrow (Sunday) are available at the door and priced at £8 for adults and £4 for concessions.
A family ticket (for up to four people, including a maximum of two adults) is available for £20.
The Sussex Bears and Team Birmingham Elite shall contest the Men’s National Shield encounter at 11am before the Kent Crusaders and Team Newcastle University vie for the Patron’s Cup in a 1pm tip-off.
This weekend’s action is then rounded off at 3pm with the Men’s National Trophy final between London Lituanica and Manchester Magic.
Sunday’s schedule is as follows:
Sunday, February 19th:
11am: Men’s National Shield: Sussex Bears vs Team Birmingham Elite.
1pm: Patron’s Cup: Team Newcastle University vs Kent Crusaders.
3pm: Men’s National Trophy: London Lituanica vs Manchester Magic.