Last Saturday saw the final game of the season for the under 16s Eagles. The first time these teams met – way back in November – the game had not been a pleasant one for the team from Newcastle, losing comfortably to a very aggressive and physical Birmingham side. The hosts were however confidant that they had made some big improvements since the game down in Birmingham and the team were looking forward to giving the Rockets’ a real run for their money.
The first quarter started slowly for both teams. Kande would draw a foul and score his first from the free throw line to get the Eagles on the board. Birmingham would then put together back-to-back scores to take a three-point lead with four minutes gone. The Rockets would then begin to build a lead through a number of solid possessions on defence, keeping the Eagles to only three points in five minutes of play. In that time the visitors managed to put up 13 points, through a combination of good shooting from Faure-Lewis and a number of strong interior finishes from offensive rebounds. Scores for Sukys and Jones would see the Eagles close the quarter on a 4-0 run, but the away side would see their lead at eight points, 17-9, going into the second.
The second quarter would see the Eagles offensive struggles continue. Despite getting a number of good looks on offence the home side only managed to put 12 points on the board whilst conceding another 23. This quarter, it was foul trouble that really hurt the Eagles as they played nearly seven minutes with team fouls, sending Birmingham to the line eight times in that timeframe. The score at the half was 21-40 in favour of the Rockets.
The third quarter would see the Eagles begin to score with far greater ease. The period began with Birmingham scoring on back-to-back possessions before Fetherston was fouled in the act of shooting, making one of his two from the charity stripe. The sides would then trade baskets before an 8-2 run for the Rockets saw their lead increase to 25 points (37-62). With two minutes left in the quarter, the home side would manage to reduce the deficit back to 20 with an 8-3 run, led by Bond who would go on to score a team high 25 points. The score going into the final quarter was 45-65 to the Rockets.
The final quarter would see the Eagles fight hard to get back into the game. A focus on pressing higher up the court coupled with some risk taking on offence saw the hosts get back to within eight points with just over a minute remaining. Sadly for the Eagles, that was as close as they would get, as Birmingham managed to see out the remainder of the game and come away with a big away win.
After the game, U16s Head Coach Sam Roxborough said “this game feels a lot like our entire season. We have battled so hard late on in games but time and time again we have given ourselves too deep a hole to get out of. I’m so proud of the lads for their effort today, especially the final quarter where we gave the Rockets a real scare.”
Scorers: Bond 25, Kande 16, Proctor 14, Lewis 6, Sukys 6, Jones 5, Hunt 3, Fetherston 3.