Newham Youngbloods Under 16s were in action against their London rivals Peckham Pride in a showdown which would determine the winner of the Basketball England U16 Premier South Division.
Youngbloods won the tip but failed to convert early on before Shequell Roberts played great defence to get a stop and convert from close range with Devante Abana-Odita position himself on the inside early on to give the home side the early 3-0 advantage. Peckham hit straight back to level the game at a 3 a piece before a run of 6 points unanswered started by David Olupitan and cemented by Abana-Odita gave the initiative to the home side early on for the 9-3 advantage midway through the first quarter. Abana-Odita continued his onslaught as a nice pass from Termon Serrant set him up for the slam dunk with James Walsh-Roche scored the short jumper to give Youngbloods the first quarter lead 15-7.
A slow start from both sides early on in the second quarter saw baskets exchanged with neither side being able to take advantage, Peckham briefly closed the gap to a 6 point game before Laja Ogidan and Alex Distras sprung to life to help Youngbloods to a 10-4 point run as Ogidan and Distras forced the Pride into early foul trouble with Distras converting an and-1 play soon after. Richmond Airyo got two back to back stops as he converted on the break on both occasions as Ogidan closed the scoring proceedings for the home side giving them a game-high 17 point lead heading into the break, 37-20.
Despite an early first basket from the youngbloods side, they began to show signs of laziness on the defensive end, as they allowed Peckham to score the following 8 points without reply. Ogidan broke Peckham run with a nice score on the inside. Peckham, however, found rhythm and momentum as complacency from a good first half performance began to set in for the home side forcing Coach Aaron Senior to take a timeout to rally his troops. Titas Zydelis converted from close range following the timeout and this was quickly followed by an Abana-Odita dunk and foul and made the resulting free throw gave Youngbloods some momentum back heading into the final stanza with Newham Youngbloods in the lead by 9 points, 52-43. The two sides traded baskets throughout the last quarter as Youngbloods held on for a memorable victory, Final Score: 74-67.
Head Coach Aaron Senior said “This result was amazing for us, The boys were fantastic and showed themselves in a good light to win the U16 South Premier Division title is a great achievement. However we still have a playoff journey ahead.”