The Richmond Knights under-16 Boys made club history by becoming the first boys team from Richmond to qualify for a National Cup Final.

L-R: I. Omirin (Head Coach), A. Petchey, E. Conway, T. Rugette, M. Banag, G. Rodriguez, N. Afolabi, C. Niles, M. Murray, G. Cook, H. Godwin, G. Elliott, P. Sesli, T. Hoare.

Following in the footsteps of the Knights u16 Girls, who made the National Cup Final in 2020, the boys booked their place with a convincing 83-63 win at home to St Albans Wolves in the semi-final. The lead was established in a dominant 2nd quarter behind three three-pointers from Harry Godwin that opened up a 19-point half-time margin. St Alban’s impressive guard, Simon Patasin, did his best to reduce the deficit in the second half but Knights proved too strong with impressive performances from Ethan Conway (21pts), Tejan Rugette (18pts), Gonzalo Rodriguez (12pts) and Milo Murray (12pts).

On Saturday 22nd January, the Knights army of players, coaches and supporters travelled to the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester for the Basketball England National Cup Finals. This extravaganza of basketball that has been sorely missed since the start of the pandemic set the stage for an exciting weekend of cup finals across both junior and senior age groups.

The match-up between the only two remaining undefeated teams in the u16 boys draw – Richmond Knights and Islington Panthers – got off to frantic start with both teams being agressive on offence. It was Islington who converted more chances and opened up an early 30-13 lead. Knights head coach Isaac Omirin rallied his troops to a 14-15 second quarter thanks to a much improved defensive effort that was celebrated by the travelling support.

Knights could not maintain the intensity in the second half and an MVP performance from T. Poku Mensah and break-out display from M. Joses stretched the Islington lead to as much as 34-points. Despite the trophy slipping away, the Knights boys fought valiantly to reduce the deficit to near-single digits – including four three-pointers from Tejan Rugette and solid contributions from Ethan Conway (11pts, 10 reb), Cyrus Niles (10pts, 9 reb) and Harry Godwin (12pts, 3 stl) – but could not get close enough to challenge for the lead. Islington closed the game out as worthy 81-61 victors, but the effort and achievement of the Knights players was recognised by head coach Isaac Omirin who stated: “Proud of the boys and what they have achieved. They set goals at the start of the season and one of them was to make the National Cup Finals…Not the result we wanted but a great opportunity for our boys and parents to experience the amazing atmosphere.”

Knights Basketball Founder, James Merchant, acknowledged the journey of the club, by saying: “A decade ago, a Richmond team in a National Final was unheard of, but now it is a regular occurrene thanks to the enthusiasm and dedication of our coaches, players and volunteers within our club. Win or lose, it is a pleasure to see these people being rewarded for their efforts with experiences like this that will last a lifetime.”

Richond Knights operate both male and female teams from under-10 to senior. If you are interested in getting involed in basketball then contact office@knightsbasketball.co.uk

Image: Brandeer
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