Following on from their 2nd Round Playoff win last week against Hertfordshire Warriors, the Under 16 Boys of Newham Youngbloods, now in action in the Playoff Quarter-Finals against Newcastle Eagles as both teams battled it out to make the prestigious Basketball England National Final Fours taking place in Sheffield on the 2nd May.
Youngbloods won the tip and converted the first fours chances of the game with Rayon Brown’s steals contributing to the first 6 points of the game for the Home side as they went on an early 8-0 run to quickly silence the visiting support from Newcastle. Newcastle hit back with a three point shot and followed by one from close range as the Eagles gained momentum and went on a 10-0 run to gain the first lead of the game. Jonathan Ragasa hit a 3 point shot to restore Youngbloods lead which Newcastle quickly gained back.
A strong drive to the basket from Joel Osei resulted in a foul as he converted one from the free throw line, Jelani Watson-Gayle hitting finding his way to the hole and Ify Chuks strong dunk over a Newcastle defender as they combined well for the next 8 points with the Home Team building their first double digit lead of the game. Chuks continued to dominate on the boards as he scored the last two basket of the quarter with Youngbloods leading 28-18.
Newcastle started the second quarter and scored immediately from the inbounds to cut Newham’ lead to single digits. Once again a run of points as Nathan Moyo and Watson-Gayle combined well as they scored 10 points together over the first three minutes of the second quarter helped Youngbloods to establish an 18 point lead midway through the first before Newcastle hit back with a two from close range. 3s from Mark Sotto and Ragasa continued to pile on the misery for the Eagles as Newham reached the half a century mark.
Oscar Turner secured the rebound following a missed shot and put in to score as another run of 8 points from the home side with Aaron Martin and Jelani Lewis combining well as Lewis attacked through the middle of the defence scoring of a silky move. Youngbloods went in to the half time break 60-33 leading comfortably and controlling the game, however they could not let complacency creep in.
A score from Jelani Lewis started the third quarter for Youngbloods just as it did the first, however a defence lapse allowed Newcastle to score from deep and inside. Watson-Gayle and Ragasa brought control back to the game as Watson-Gayle nailed from deep with Chuks contributing the next 6 points as he continued to convert from close range. Rayon Brown urged patience in the Youngbloods offense and great control showed as Youngbloods’ Alfie Murray, Turner and Martin all scored in the last minute of the third to close out the quarter in Newham’s favour 83-44.
With sights firmly set on Final Fours and encounters that future round will bring Youngbloods continued to run through their offensive sets, and was scoring at will as Moyo continued to cause havoc for the Eagle defence as he controlled the game on the inside. Sotto scored as soon as he came on midway through the third quickly followed by strong drive to the basket by Martin, as Youngbloods sought the century score, and he was fouled in transition. He coolly converted the resulting free throws as Youngbloods reached the century point. The game was closed out by a Rayon Brown shot from deep to give Youngbloods their Second final fours in two years to emulate the Under 16 team of last Year. Final Score 103-53
Visibly delighted Under 16 Boys Head Coach Aaron Senior said “the Boys knew exactly what was required of them today and they delivered. They played very well from the beginning. We grew as a team this year, and have developed into a team to be reckoned with. 2 years and 2 final four appearances a great moment for the boys and the club. Once again thanks to St Bonaventure’s and St Angela’s school for their facilities this year”
U16 Boys will now go onto face Sheffield Junior Saints in the Semi-Final at the Junior National League Final Fours event in Sheffield at the English Institute of Sport on Saturday 2nd May 2015, 10am tip off.