Youngbloods Under 16 Boys were in action on the weekly as they faced off against Leeds Force in their eagerly awaited Basketball England Under 16 Premier Division Playoff Quarter-Final. The two sides have never previously played each other, so both teams were unaware of what to expect.
Youngbloods won the tip off as Richmond Ariyo converted the first baskets of the game, Leeds quickly converted on the other end with a big three-ball to take the lead early on. David Olupitan hit a trey ball back of his own as the two sides traded baskets in the opening stages. Youngblood’s attack then sprung to life as Laja Ogidan and Devante Abana-Odita converted the next 4 points to take the lead. Termon Serrant found Abana-Odita on the inside as he slammed it down for the dunk forcing Leeds Force to take a time-out. The time-out sparked momentum for the Leeds side as they strung together a run of 7 points to level it up before converting points at the buzzer as Leeds took the early advantage ahead by 2 points 20-22.
Youngbloods started the brighter of the two sides in the second quarter as once again Ogidan and Abana-Odita linked together well and put Newham back in front to start a 12-2 run for Youngbloods with skilful guard Alex Distras converting his shots as Ogidan, Distras and Abana-Odita took over proceedings again forcing Leeds Coach to take a timeout with Youngbloods ahead by 10 points, 36-26. Leeds once again came out firing from the time-out and were able to bring the game back to within 3 points before Distras converted a deep three-point shot to send the crowd into raptures as Youngbloods took the lead into the half 43-37
The third stanza began as a slow affair before Newham Youngbloods sprang to life once more Airyo converting the first basket of 14 to 4 run with Abana-Odita and Distras converting a run of 6 points of themselves. With the Youngbloods strong defence limiting Leeds to only 6 points in opening 5 minutes. Menelik Stanley came into play and was fouled in the act of shooting as he converted one of his free throws. Serrant sprung to life and scored 4 straight points and then his attacking mindset shone as he attacked the basket and was fouled converting both of his free throws as Leeds struggled to contain Youngbloods energy as they stormed to a 28 point to 19 quarter, ahead by 15 points, 71-56.
Coach Aaron Senior urged discipline from his side at the beginning of the fourth quarter of which they delivered. Titas Zydelis converted the opening basket, swiftly followed by Jonathan Odur to keep Youngbloods in the lead by more than 15 points midway through the fourth period. Olupitan nailed two shots from close range to extend this advantage before Youngbloods defensive intensity again increased forcing Leeds Force scoreless in the last three minutes of the game. Emmanuel Eze scored after a great offensive rebound and scored again quickly after. James Walsh-Roche, Ariyo and Odur continued to convert from close range following great defense as Youngbloods stormed to a run of 10 unanswered points to end the fourth quarter as Newham Youngbloods secured their place in the National Final Fours. Final Score: 91-68
“”This was a great performance from us, and to advance to the National Final Fours is yet again another tribute to the hard work of the Players and the schools which have supported us such as St Bonaventure’s and St Angela’s. We played very well today and look forward to the challenge in the National Semi-Finals.” said Coach Aaron Senior
Cheshire Wire will be the Under 16 next opponents in the Basketball England U16 Premier National Playoff Semi-Final on Saturday 30th April at the Amaechi Basketball Centre, Manchester