Richmond Knights basketball club earned a double success last Sunday as both their under-10 and under-12 teams won their respective Surrey Playoff Finals at Chessington Sports Centre to add to the league titles each team already held for the 2013-14 season.
The u-10’s had only managed to beat their opponents, Baltic Stars, with a golden basket in their Surrey Central-Venue League match-up in the regular season, and the playoff final on May 11th proved to be an even more thrilling encounter. Knights trailed for the entire first half but a shot on the half-time buzzer by top-scorer and MVP Ektor Lloyd brought the Knights to within 1pt. Playing on an unfamiliar full-size basketball court, both sets of young players put on an impressive display of high-intensity hoops, with the lead changing hands throughout the 2nd half. The Stars danger-man was shut down by an impressive
defensive display from Benjamin Grahame and he capped off a strong individual performance by scoring a lay-up in the final minute to tie the game and send the teams in to a 1-minute overtime period. In their first ever cup-final the Knights showed great composure to create an impressive team basket, passing the ball around the key and finishing with a strong drive to the hoop by Tom Perrett. Knights survived some last-gasp shot attempts by Stars before Ethan Danns sealed the 15-13 victory by dribbling coast-to-coast and laying the ball in to the hoop as the final buzzer sounded, sparking ecstatic on-court celebrations with coach Matt Page. The victory ensured the Knights completed the entire season undefeated and won both the league and playoff titles. Top Scorers: Ektor Lloyd – 5pts; Ethan Danns – 4pts; Jimmy Wishart – 4pts.
The Knights coaches and supporters had to quickly steady their emotions as their under-12’s took to the court to take on the Ball-Up Sport Select Team. Early in the game, Knights struggled to cope with the size and speed of the opposition and looked to be out of the game at 6-17 down. Solid shooting from Kieran Farrell and Tyler Masawi
kept the Knights in the game and a time-out by coach Andrew Wallace inspired a late 1st-half surge to bring the boys back to within 4-points at half-time. The 2nd-half saw the Knights step up the intensity and the opposition struggled to hit their shots under solid defensive pressure led by Jamie Munby
who shut down the BUS team’s biggest threat. Against the odds, Knights fought their way in to the lead through aggressive offense from Oscar Leigh-Hales and MVP James Smith. BUS hit back to tie the game before a rapid full-court break was finished from a tight angle by Charlie Higgins with less than a minute to go. Despite numerous attempts, BUS couldn’t get their shots to drop and when Knights finally got possession they patiently wore down the clock with a measured passing sequence.
With 10-seconds to go BUS had one final possession and their no.12 drove to the key but was shut down by the Knights defence as the buzzer sounded. The Knights celebrations were put on hold as they realised a foul had been called which gave the BUS top-scorer two free-throws to send the game to OT. He bravely hit the first shot but as the second attempt bounced out the Knights players and spectators rushed the court to celebrate their incredible achievement of winning both the league and playoff titles. Top Scorers: Kieran Farrell – 8pts; James Smith – 8pts; Jamie Munby – 7pts.