The Eagles under 16s were back in league action this weekend, at home to Cheshire Wire. The game was rescheduled from earlier in the year, so this was the first time the two teams had met all season.
The first quarter saw the Eagles set the tone for the game. A score for Kande got the hosts on the board before Mamuini went coast-to-coast to double the Eagle’s advantage. The away side came out in a zone and much of the Eagle’s scores in the first quarter came off some great link up play inside between Kande and Proctor, who managed to move between the defenders with real success. The home side’s defence was also ‘on point’ from the tip off. The home side managed to severely restrict Cheshire’s scoring opportunities throughout the first, however a few too many fouls saw the Wire go to the line five times. Unfortunately for the visitors, they could only go 33% from the charity stripe, and the quarter finished 25-10 in favour of the hosts.
The second quarter started with the Eagles making a change on defence, pressing higher up the court to try and force turnovers and increase the pace of the game further. The visitors decided a change was needed too, moving into a half court man. This alteration allowed the Eagles to exploit some slow defensive rotations and get to the basket with great success. Cheshire did begin to score with more consistency, picking up 16 points in the quarter but the Eagles managed to pile in 26 to go into halftime up 51-26.
The first half scoring was led by Kande, who picked up 19 points, with a complete display of inside finishing, shooting, and free throws. Proctor also had a good first half, with a number of clever finishes inside to take his tally to eight.
After the break, it was Cheshire who would start the brighter. The visitors went on an 8-4 run after a number of poor defensive rotations allowed the Wire to get inside and score a number of lay-ups. The hosts would respond with a big three from Jones, before Bond added a lay-up to increase the home side’s lead from halftime, now up to 26. The quarter would progress with both sides trading baskets, before the Eagles put together a run of their own, to eventually take the quarter 21-18, (72-44).
The fourth quarter saw the Wire back in a zone and the hosts began to struggle for scores. The Eagles fell into the trap of shooting too much from beyond the arc and despite some good interior movement the visitors managed to force a number of turnovers and contested shots. The Eagles defence did however remain resolute. Despite only scoring 12 points in the quarter, the hosts restricted Cheshire to 14, and ran out winners 84-58!
After the game, U16s Head Coach Sam Roxborough said “we had a really good game today. We have to be proud of our effort on defence and all the players showed some big improvements from previous games. I was really happy with how we started the game and our intensity for the first 20 minutes was impressive. We know Cheshire will be a different prospect away from home and we now have a couple of weeks to prepare ourselves for what is sure to be a really tough game.”
As mentioned above, the U16s have a weekend off, before travelling to Cheshire to face the Wire on Saturday 10th March.
Scorers: Mamuini 25, Kande 23, Proctor 16, Bond 8, Sukys 5, Jones 5, Lewis 2.