BE National League: U16 Boys South West
Match Report: 9th December 2017
Author: Luke Adams
Final Score: Plymouth Raiders Development 57-50 Gloucester Saxons
After a bleak mid-winter start in Gloucester and a long coach journey down to Plymouth with both the U16s and U18s on the bus, the boys took to the court in good spirits. A few early surprises to overcome; a low ceiling; strange court dimensions (very narrow with hardly any room in the corners outside the 3-point line); but in spite of this, the presence of the U18s and a few hardy parents meant there was good vocal Saxons support, which at times made it feel more like a home match.
The boys showed great intensity from the tip-off, which is what Coach had asked for over the course of the last few games. First points scored and some strong defence chants from the Saxons support. Saxons struggled to come to terms with the court dimensions in the first quarter, taking the ball out of bounds 6 times. Very definitely an advantage to the home side, who didn’t go OOB once. The ref showed a fiery side and was taking no nonsense. A very evenly balanced quarter though with some better defence from Saxons. Raiders took more risks from outside the 3-point line and a flurry of 3-pointers put them 18/12 up at the end of the 1st.
The 2nd quarter began at a similar pace, with several successful drives to the basket from Saxons, drawing them level at 18/18. Growing confidence from our boys, helped by several strong blocks in defence. Both teams continued to go toe to toe, with Raiders again taking some chances on 3-point shots and making them. The pace dropped a little towards the end of the quarter, which finished 33/30 to Raiders.
Coach’s half-time team talk consisted of telling the boys to keep doing what they’re doing, and to just do the things they have done in training. Saxons are a far more athletic team than Raiders and they are having most success when they keep the ball moving quickly, so instruction from Coach was to move the ball quickly around the court.
As we head into the 3rd quarter first points go to the Raiders, and Saxons get caught out by a couple of Raiders fast breaks. Tempers threaten to boil over on the Raiders bench as their coach takes issue with the referees. Two excellent forced turnovers by Saxons add some momentum and they take the lead for the first time in the game through a 3-pointer that takes it to 37/40…no, wait, the scoreboard shows a 2-point rather than a 3, and in seconds it is back to 37/39. Some loose passes from Saxons give the impetus back to Raiders and they finish the 3rd stronger at 44/39.
After some instruction from coach, urging the team to continue using the full court press they used in the 3rd quarter, everyone draws a deep breath for the 4th quarter. First points again go to Raiders who suddenly stretch their lead to 50/41 with 7 minutes left on the clock. Some loose passes into a very congested key follow from both teams as the tension rises and emotions run high. With 1.40 left on the clock and a great recovery from Saxons the score stands at 54/50. Self-belief is oozing through our boys, with some strong vocal support urging them on. The level of intensity is high from both teams, but just as it looks as though the momentum is with Saxons to pull back the score, Raiders win a couple of free throws at the death, and then manage to run down the clock, taking the final score at the buzzer to 57/50.
Saxons deserved something from the game, and without the narrow court causing the early turnovers, who knows…. Players were rotated regularly and every player contributed and helped to maintain a consistent level. Coach said he was looking for a performance today, and we certainly got it.