Title still within dunking distance for thirds after win in local derby

Coming into the fourth match in the 2015-2016 BUCS Season, the Newcastle Basketball Mens 3rds team had done extremely well with three wins and only one loss so far in a closely fought match against the York 2nds team at home. The start of this match was going to decide who could maintain local bragging rights and the Newcastle Knights did not want to come out on the losing end.

Four minutes into the match Newcastle were leading by 7 points and were getting the basket and the foul opportunities. A sloppy offensive set led to an easy basket for the visitors but Newcastle countered straight back with a floater from Lampres. An easy steal from Greenwood led to the fast break and a Sunderland player was forced into an unprofessional foul which was capitalised on with two points. The lead was steadily increasing and stood now at 9 points.

Sunderland were finding it difficult to penetrate with turnovers or get offensive rebounds from Newcastle and after some sloppy dribbling they lost the ball once more. As the quarter went on, however, they were playing more aggressively and strived to push the tempo of the play.

“Four minutes into the match Newcastle were leading by 7 points and were getting the basket and the foul opportunities”

Newcastle on the other hand were striving for shots from distance which were highly ineffective, but unable to seize upon this moment, Sunderland were still sending Newcastle players to the foul line with unnecessary fouls. With a minute left, the hosts were not pushing the lead and neither were Sunderland threatening to come back so both teams were looking to go on a game changing run. At the end of the first, the Knights led 18-12.

A long distance shot from afar was the key to the start of the second quarter and Newcastle soon pushed the lead to 10 points. Newcastle’s De Guzman made a really good inside pass to his centre and the Mackems were forced to call a timeout with the lead slowly increasing to 12 points.

The teamwork and chemistry was flowing for Newcastle and with several turnovers and missed passes from their opponents, they were finding it hard to breakout of this slump. They simply could not find the basket, having not scored in 3 minutes.

Newcastle’s strong defence definitely played a part and it was clear to see in terms of the way Sunderland were approaching their offence. Without a proper coach, the team was struggling without direction and they were shooting airballs from far and left with little ideas. The timeout was called and the score was 33 – 12 to Newcastle.

“The teamwork and chemistry was flowing for Newcastle and with several turnovers and missed passes from their opponents, they were finding it hard to breakout of this slump”

Even on the fast break, Sunderland players were squandering opportunities, with mismatches and unusual layups, it was hard to see how they were going to come back from the deficit. The Knights were brimming with confidence and even the long range shot was working. Sunderland were without options and they had not scored for the entire quarter after 7 minutes.

A questionable foul gave the Sunderland players their first opportunity at the stripe and, finally, the player made one of the two free throws. The body language of the Sunderland players told the story, their heads were down and they could not get the offensive rebound.

At half time, the score stood at 44 – 16 to Newcastle and the visiting players must have been left wondering, what happened in that second quarter for the lead to grow in such a manner? The second string came on in the second half and it was good to see the intensity by the captain of the team to push his teammates to play proper defence.

Mysteriously, the referee stopped the play and blew the whistle for no apparent reason. Understandably, two wide open shots for Sunderland led to a time out from Newcastle. Holmes was extremely vocal about playing proper man to man and improving the defence. Sunderland were putting up a valiant effort and striving their hardest with several hustle plays but unfortunately, airballs were still a part of their game.

“The body language of the Sunderland players told the story, their heads were down and they could not get the offensive rebound”

The pace of the game was slowing down but with 3 consecutive offensive rebounds stolen from right under their noses, the Sunderland players were noticeably frustrated. The hustle was still key in the Knights play and with a few loose balls, they finally converted it into two points. The Sunderland players scored right back from inside and it goes to show that they could have made this more of a match if they were more patient and found the pass.

With 2 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Knights led 62-31, maintaining their strong and dominant 30-point lead throughout the match. The quarter score was 63-37, with Sunderland striving to put up a relatively decent score to finish the game and go home with. Unfortunately, no matter how they tried, they made airballs time and time again, even on the free throws. Part of the issue was their leaky defence, which meant plenty of penetration for Newcastle. That being said, they did make some spectacular blocks.

The Sunderland players were finding a second wind and 5 minutes into the final quarter, they cut the lead to 23 and there some smiles began to appear on the faces of their players. The taller Newcastle side had a huge advantage on the rebounds in both defence and offence. A valiant effort on the part of Lampres, he unfortunately fouled out 4 minutes till the end of the game.

Inexplicably, the home defence switched off for the last moment but a Sunderland player missed the completely open layup, he was probably too surprised at how open he was. With a string of 3 pointers from Cheong, the lead was back up to 31 points with one minute to go, 84-53.

Maybe it was the competitive spirit or the thrill of scoring a buzzer beater but the final shot, which went in at the buzzer, was perhaps not very sportsman like. Final score: 90-53 to Newcastle.

The win moves the Knights level on points with leaders York, having played a game more.

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