Lions Falter in Final Period Against Wildcats

Teesside Lions u16 42-51 Durham Wildcats

Lions were in control for three quarters and should have been celebrating a good victory but for an astonishing comeback in the final period which saw Wildcats outscore the Lions 18-2 to claim the win after being down 7pts at the end of the third.

Durham began with an intensity that initially intimidated Teesside. The huge presence of giant pair Jai Naylor and Liam Armstrong provided the first 6pts for Durham with only Owen Waddington ploughing a lone furrow for Lions with a mix of accurate shooting and clever driving. Waddington would finish the first quarter with 6 of his teams 10pts.

The imposing Armstrong was having an affect on Ryan Stephenson and Anthony Reed who were victims of a couple of early blocks.

On offence Armstrong continued to impress as he hit 10pts to give Durham a slender lead at the end of the first period, 10-13.

In the second quarter Coach Thomson delivered a pep talk to his troops and told them to go and play their normal games, don’t be intimidated by the intensity of the game or size of the players. The outcome seemed to be a positive one as Reed, Waddington and the lively Jack Ridley combined to produce an 8-3 run. The only open play basket came from Jack Giash; a nice jump shot from mid range.

In the ninth minute Jerome Obneil connected a brace of shots from mid range on his debut and at half time Teesside were high fiving a 6pt lead, 25-19.

The third quarter was much the same with Lions stretching their lead to 10pts as Durham took three minutes to mark the sheet as Loic Becke rose to the basket with an athletic drive. This seemed to galvanise the side as the Armstrong hit the next 6pts with a mix of post moves including a lovely little hook shot. Despite their resurgence the Wildcats were still only trading baskets with the Lions as Stephenson and Reed were now much more effective and Ridley continued to pester at both ends of the court. At the end of the third Lions were still in control, 40-33.

The final quarter could not have been more different as Lions effectively closed down on offence. Their quick flowing ball movement disappeared and as Wildcats chipped away at the lead, Lions would force shots in the hope of halting the slide.

For Wildcats their confidence grew with every shot and even more so with every mistake Lions committed. Josh Millard converted two baskets, including a 3-pointer to instigate a 12-0 run. The only response from Lions came from Anthony Reed and this would be Lions last basket of the game. Wildcats would continue to rub salt in the wounds as they scored another 6pts with particularly good play from Naylor.

In what was a great advert for junior basketball, played in front of a good and atmospheric crowd, the future looks bright for both sides.

The MVP was awarded to Liam Armstrong (right) who was a dominant force at both ends marking a double-double of points and rebounds with 6 blocks.

Top Scorers

Lions: Stevenson 12, Reed 10, Waddington 8, Ridley 6, Obneil 4

Wildcats: Armstrong 20, Naylor 17, Millard 6, Becke 4, Giash 2

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