This Sunday saw the Eagles under 16s back in action, away to Trafford Magic in the Northern Premier League. The reverse fixture had seen Trafford sneak a road win but this game was always going to be a very even contest. Both sides were coming into the game having lost in testing circumstances the game before, and the focus from both teams pre-game told you how much this one meant to both of them.
The Eagles started the game with real intent. Back-to-back scores for Mamuini (on his way to a team high 21 points) saw the Eagles ahead early, and it wasn’t until mid-way through the third minute that Trafford would score. Solid defence was allowing the visitors to build some real pressure and with a number of shots dropping from behind the arc, the Eagles found themselves ahead 14-17 after the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter the Eagle’s offence would dry up. The visitors would only manage to score seven points in the quarter as Trafford’s help rotations began to more consistently deny scoring opportunities in the paint. The home side’s offence was also working better, and this allowed the hosts to win the quarter 16-7 to take a six-point lead into halftime (30-24).
The third quarter would see the Eagles step up their efforts on defence. A number of solid help rotations and box outs would limit the Magic to just 11 points in the quarter. Unfortunately for the visitors they could only score 15 and so they would go into the final quarter down two (39-41).
The final quarter was a real see-saw affair. A 5-0 run to start the period from the Eagles saw them retake the lead (41-44), before the hosts responded with a big 3-point effort to tie the game up. This was then followed by a Magic free throw to see them retake the lead, albeit by the smallest of margins. The teams would then trade baskets – with Mamuini and Kande leading the scoring for the visitors – before the Magic managed to find some breathing room. A 6-0 run in the seventh minute saw the Magic move out to a five-point lead 58-53. The Eagles would then get a number of stops on defence, before scores for Kande and Fetherston reduced the visitor’s deficit to just one point. Trafford would then go to the foul line, hitting just one of their free throws to see the lead out to two points. The visitors would fail to score and again fouled, this time in order to stop the clock. Luckily for the Eagles, the team from Trafford would again only hit one from the charity stripe, with the lead now at three points. With the clock winding down, Fetherston would manage to get a shot away from outside the arc, only for the ball to rim out and the time on the clock to expire. The final score was 60-57 in favour of the Magic.
After the game, under 16s Head Coach Sam Roxborough said “it was always going to be a really tight game. Credit must go to Trafford who fought hard throughout the game and ultimately deserved to get the win. I can’t speak highly enough of our guys though. The sheer fight and resilience show by all of them in the game makes me so proud. We are obviously gutted to come out on the wrong side of this one but we can’t sulk, with another big game next weekend against Cheshire Wire.”
Next Fixture: Saturday 24th February, 2pm tip, Newcastle College.
Scorers: Mamuini 21, Kande 14, Bond 10, Fetherston 6, Proctor 4, Jerrard 2.