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END OF SEASON FOR LIONS AS LONDON HEAD INTO SEMIS
Teesside Lions MenV
UEL London Lions
Sunday 9th April|
Teesside Lions ended their season at the quarter final stage after UEL London Lions upstaged the hosts on their home court.
It was an entertaining affair and began well for Teesside with a 5-0 start via Eddie Matthew and a 3-pointer from Luke Mitchell.
The honeymoon period would not last however as Oliver Young tied the game with a 3-pointer and lay up, and would continue to hit the visitors’ first 7pts as Teesside failed to react to the dangers.
Aaren Smith ploughed a lone furrow in the first quarter and hit 8pts of Lions 14, and despite their dis-organised performance they were only 3pts behind London.
The second quarter was not better as talented big man Michael Wolfe hit a 3-pointer for London and collectively the visitors defence was difficult for Teesside to break down.
Thomas Wylie did well to hit two 3’s and provide some respite as the home side searched for answers. Oliver Hylands added 7pts late in the first half as he battled around the basket.
At half time Teesside were down 29-37 and second best in most areas. This however did not dampen the enthusiasm of the 600+ home crowd who supported the team throughout the entire game.
A strong spell from Matt Hughes produced 6pts and again a glimmer of hope but London were quick to respond both on the court and via their coaching team to pat the sparks, resulting in Teesside struggling to build any momentum. A significant amount of credit must go to Coaches Fois and Greenaway who were a constant presence of energy and direction.
Teesside were not themselves and although they had the players to produce a come-back, the opportunity to do so was dwindling. Teesside lost the third quarter 16-19 as the overall gap of 11pts was now becoming a bridge too far.
In the final quarter Teesside managed to win their first period 17-15, but another good start was yet again fragmented. Wolfe hit 8pts with a range of strong finishes to seal the game. Young, Delgado and Mohamed in addition to Wolfe proved too much as one or the other stepped up at the right time throughout the game.
For Lions, their usual performers found it difficult to find their rhythm and uncharacteristically only had one player in double figure points. Smith shone in what was a poor game overall for the team. Wylie was another who did well and finished with 9pts as the second top scorer.
Final Score Teesside Lions 62-71 UEL London Lions
Game MVP: Aaren Smith
Teesside: Smith 21, Wylie 9, Hughes 7, Hylands 7, Hughes 6,
London: Mohamed 16, Young 16, Wolfe 13
This was only the second game all season where Lions were out-played. The other against Myerscough in the National Cup was another bad day at the office and on both occasions, Teesside will reflect on how they could and should have done better. Unfortunately, in these cup games with a knockout platform, poor performances will be punished in the ultimate way, with exit from the competition.
Two bad games, however, must not detract from what has been another successful season for Teesside Lions on and off the court, but is a reminder that the team cannot rest on its laurels and there is work to do to prepare for next season and the team’s anticipated acceptance into Division Two.
Teesside won the league title in an un-defeated league season, satisfied the criteria for promotion, broke the league attendance record three times, enjoyed suiting up four of their junior players for first team action and boasted some of the season’s best performances from players such as Luke Mitchell, Theo Turner, Eddie Matthew and Matt Hughes. The mid season addition of Aaren Smith was the icing on a cake for which all Teesside Lions fans have enjoyed throughout the year and the team finished the season with a 21-2 record across all competitions.
Club chief James Thomson is already working on areas to improve ahead of the new season and Division Two competition.
“Firstly I would like to congratulate Coach Hylands and the team on a successful season. While it was a shame to miss out on another playoff final, especially as the reigning champions, our primary objective was promotion via winning the league and the best way to achieve this was remaining unbeaten to hold the joint best win percentage. We did this in a fairly emphatic way.
“We have continued to build the brand and fan base with incredibly positive feedback from supporters both new and old. The Lions Game Day experience has been likened among the best in the country and our junior programme sent 29 players to the Regional Aspire Programme as well as Oscar Mahoney being selected to represent England U14.
“Overall, I am very proud of our achievements, of all the players throughout the club and the undiminished support the fans have given each and every time the players have stepped on the court.
Rest assured however the hard work won’t stop and we will endeavour to strengthen and improve in all areas possible.”
Teesside are planning to organise some events during the off-season and are encouraging fans to follow updates on the clubs social media channels.