It was a tough first game of the season for the academy under 16’s today as the youngsters struggled to impose their will on the game against reigning Scottish champions Stirling Knights. The game began in a positive fashion for the Eagles as they worked the ball inside to good effect on dribble drives from the perimeter. A pair of drives from captain Jerrard began the tie for the Eagles and were followed up by a good early turn from Leperrier as he netted 8 of his 21 points in the first frame. In reply Gilmour from the Knights dropped 9 of his 17 points; though that stat doesn’t do justice to the impact Gilmour made on the game throughout as his drives in to the paint consistently caused issues for the Eagles. Despite this the Eagles led at the end of the first 22-16.
During the second quarter the Eagles struggled in transition and on the boards as the Knights took control of the game. McGlasson and his Knights team-mates building a lead that would in the end be insurmountable for the Eagles youngsters as the Scots poured in 34 points in the quarter behind 13 from McGlasson and 9 from Kemp. As the Knights continued their assault the Eagles played a passive style and failed to continue their dribble drives to the rim and began to settle for the outside shots that would define their offense for much of the day. The visitors carried a 20-point lead in to the half time break as the score sat at 30-50.
The third saw the Eagles launch a mighty comeback after a welcome half-time break. As they worked the ball inside and began to use a much more pressing style it appeared the Eagles had turned the tide in the game as they halved the deficit with just 4:42 off the clock in the third making the score 52-42 after Reimann-Dawe nailed a pair of free-throws. However, the Eagles again fell behind as they lost the quarter 16-15 meaning they enter the fourth trailing by 21.
In the fourth it appeared the fight had left the Eagles as they failed to stop a parade of Stirling drives to the rim. The game finishing with little incident in the fourth as both teams seemed to play with a relaxed tempo in an already decided contest.
The Eagles now are out of the National Cup, and will turn their focus to their main competition the National League on Saturday as they face the visiting Manchester Giants at Newcastle College with a 12pm tip-off.