Knights and Titans victorious in Sheffield
Sheffield played host to another Super Saturday of wheelchair basketball action on the 5 April as the UK’s top sixteen junior teams descended upon the All Saints Sports Centre to battle it out in the Lord’s Taverners Junior League finals.
With each of the teams having played their way to a highly coveted spot in the finals throughout the season, the day once again proved to be a fantastic showcase of the sport. Read on to see how both sets of finals unfolded.
The Northern Ireland Knights got off to a fantastic start as they overcame a gritty performance by the Steel Vikings to become the first team to secure a semi-final spot with a 26-5 victory. The Knights’ next opponents would be the Lothian Phoenix who opened their campaign with a very strong performance against the GLL & Aspire London Titans, shooting their way to a 26-4 win.
CWBA battled to a hard-fought 18-12 triumph against the RGK Tees Valley Titans, setting up a semi-final game against the Wakefield Whirlwinds who worked their way to a 28-6 win against the Hampshire Hornets.
In the semi-finals, CWBA overcame a fantastic performance by the Wakefield Whirlwinds to take a place in the final with a 28-26 victory, whilst the Northern Ireland Knights fought off a strong team effort by the Lothian Phoenix to take a 14-6 win.
The Gold medal game went down to the wire: an unmissable match between defending champions CWBA and the Northern Ireland Knights seeing the teams match each other basket for basket with the score tied on 21 points apiece with just less than two minutes of play to go. In the end, it was the Northern Ireland Knights who took the title by a single point with a 22-21 victory.
Northern Ireland Knights Head Coach, Paul McKillop, said: “I’m delighted with how the seasons gone, we’ve won all our games so it’s been fantastic by all the players as they’ve worked really hard all season. Today has been very draining emotionally – that last game was a bit too close for comfort! But it’s been absolutely brilliant and I can’t praise the players enough. They pulled it out of the bag at the end, kept their composure and hung on. It could have gone either way and well played to CWBA, they played fantastically well.”
The RGK Tees Valley Titans secured a semi-final place with a 39-11 win against the Jaguars; while their next opponents, the Leicester Cobras, overcame the Wakefield Whirlwinds 32-20 in a high-scoring game. The second semi-final would be between the GLL & Aspire London Titans who defeated the Norwich Lowriders by 38-14 and the Manchester Mavericks who triumphed 20-12 against the Hampshire Hornets.
It was the GLL & Aspire London Titans and Manchester Mavericks who were first to play for a place in the Gold Medal game, the teams putting on strong performances at both ends of the court. In the end it was the defending champions, the GLL & Aspire London Titans, who just gained the upper hand to take a 19-13 victory and progress into the final.
The second semi-final was also a close affair, the RGK Tees Valley Titans just edging out a 17-12 victory against the Leicester Cobras in a gritty game.
With defending champions the GLL & Aspire London Titans up against newcomers the RGK Tees Valley Titans, the final promised the crowd of spectators a fantastic end to the U19 event and it didn’t let them down! In the clash of the Titans, the London side came out firing as they raced to a 14-7 lead at half time, but the Tees Valley team rallied together in the second half and hit back to within three points with just over two-and-a-half minutes left on the clock. However, a great basket on the break by the GLL & Aspire London Titans saw the team extend their lead by 18-13 and retain the trophy.
GLL & Aspire London Titans U19 Head Coach, Ian Laker, said: “The GLL & Aspire London Titans are delighted to have become champions for the second consecutive year with another superb team performance against very strong opposition.”
View the images from the event on our Official Facebook page here.