After a tough loss in the National Cup last weekend, the under 16s Eagles were back in League action on Saturday, travelling to Sheffield to play the Junior Sharks. After some hassle getting to the venue the Eagles arrived with 10 minutes to spare and quickly hurried through a warm-up. Despite their best efforts it was apparent the Eagles hadn’t fully had the time to prepare for this one and after a sluggish start the visitors called a timeout with the score at 14-5 in favour of Sheffield. The Sharks offence revolved around their post players and it was proving very difficult for the Eagles to guard. Numerous interior finishes further pushed the hosts ahead and the score after the first quarter was 26-11.
The Eagles knew they could get themselves back into this game but any comeback would start on the defensive end. After the break the away side would rally. With the ball pressure on defence now much greater, the Sharks were struggling to get into their offence and this allowed the Eagles to get a number of stops. These stops were then turned into scores as the away team managed to move the ball more efficiently in the half court, finding open shooters and converting a number of shots from behind the arc. A score with just 2 seconds left would see the Eagles trail by only 2 at the half 37-35.
Despite all their hard work in the second quarter, the fledgling Eagles just couldn’t hold on after half time. The Sharks began to dominate at both ends of the floor, winning a number of rebounds on offence and putting the ball back for easy scores. Sheffield also upped their intensity on the defensive end which caused the boys from Newcastle some serious issues. Greater passing lane pressure disrupted the timing and spacing of the Eagles offence and this meant the away side only scored 9 points in the quarter 38-9 (75-44).
The visiting side wouldn’t let their heads drop however. After some much better interior defence and a real focus on boxing out the Eagles began to find their rhythm again. Better ball movement on offence also allowed the away side to get to the basket more frequently and these baskets alongside a strong effort on defence saw the Eagles win the fourth 13-20! Sadly it wasn’t enough to make a difference to the end result but the Eagles can take heart from their performance and will no doubt look forward to the return leg back in Newcastle.
The under 16’s Eagles are next in action at home to Cheshire Phoenix, 2pm tip on the 21st October. Let’s hope the guys can get back to winning ways with the home crowd there for support.
Final score 88-64
As a footnote, the under 16s players and coaches would like to thank the under 18’s for all their support on Saturday. Unfortunately the 18’s fixture against Sheffield had to be rescheduled and the players/parents were a huge support to their junior colleagues! Thanks guys!