Stephenson Too Strong For Americans

Menwith Hill Mustangs 31-43 Teesside Lions U16

Teesside Lions U16s were excellent value in a 43-31 win at American airbase Menwith Hill Mustangs.

The Lions took a strong squad, aided by the height and athleticism of Ryan Stephenson who was a dominant factor in the game at both ends of the court.

The Mustangs though were resilient despite a strong Lions start as Lions combined great ball movement with smooth finishing; Stephenson was the main threat with the first 6pts of the game.

By the end of the first quarter Lions were in a comfortable position, with a 10pt lead and Jonny Whiteside was really pulling the strings with a mix of dazzling dribbling and pin point passing. If anything Lions could have extended their lead further had they been more efficient with some simple attempts.

The lack of ruthlessness by the Teessider’s provided the hosts with inspiration as the Mustangs galloped into a 6-0 lead to set up an exciting second half.

The second half lived up to its expectation as both teams traded baskets in a fast flowing third period treating the large and atmospheric crowd to some edge of the seat basketball. Owen Waddington, who was quite tentative on the offensive end in the first half was now much more assertive and direct. Josh Baines was the man of the moment as he worked well in the low post hitting 8pts in this period alone and Josh Gabutt was producing some nice moves along the baseline.

Lions would regain their cushion in the final quarter, going ahead by as many as 15pts at one stage and finishing the game 12pt winners.

Two players usually more dominant in Anthony Reed and Jack Ridley found the going tough and had to adapt their play to a more supportive role. The strength of Lions is such that should one player struggle there are others more than capable of stepping up and on this occasion Stephenson and Whiteside were superb.

All in all, it was a very good team display and the young Lions are quickly developing into an effective unit. Stephenson was also the games top scorer on 19pts.

The next planned game is this Saturday when Lions will play Durham Wildcats subject to confirmation.

Photos by Bernard Sharp

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