Newham Youngbloods Lions U16 Premier Boys travelled down to the south of the country to Sussex as they faced an eagerly awaited matchup in the Basketball England Under 16 Boys Premier Division against undefeated Worthing Thunder who have been sitting top of the division since the beginning of the season with a straight 8 league wins.
Youngbloods in rich form following on from great team performances in previous games as well as gaining a place in the U16 Boys National Cup Quarter-Finals during the week were looking to inflict the first loss for the Worthing Thunder.
Youngbloods won the tip off and scored early as Captain Richmond Ariyo started proceedings quickly followed by Orestas Vasiliauskas. Worthing hit a three-point shot to bring the game to within one early on. However, great defensive pressure by Youngbloods led to a stop on the defensive end and a quick response as Alex Distras hit a three-point shot of his own as Marka Sy also added to the scoring effort early on as the visiting side went on a run of 8 answered points. Influential played Laja Ogidan was hit hard early on and needed to be subbed out as he couldn’t continue the game at present and this seemed to boost Youngbloods rather than rattle them as they fought hard in the game for their injuries team mate. Sy and Distras continued to lead the way as they continue to find their way to the basket and shooting from all over as Distras knocked down another shot from beyond the arc. Youngbloods continued to frustrate their opponents as they got into foul trouble early on but Newham failing to make their chances count from the free throw line. A strong scoring finish from Franklin Agu and Vasiliauskas gave Newham Youngbloods Lions a 13-27 first quarter scoreline.
Ariyo again started off proceedings in the second quarter, and the introduction of Titus Warari provided a further spark for the visitors on the defensive end and he was soon rewarded for his intensity as he scored early on the boost the advantage to the visitors by 18 points. Thunder hit two back to back threes as the visitors went scoreless for 3 minutes forcing Coach Aaron Senior to take a time out urging attention to details and a patient approach. Laja Ogidan was brought back into play after shaking off his knock early on and this brought instant results as he converted and was fouled. Two quick defensive stops from Youngblood gave them six points in 30 seconds to close out the second quarter ahead by 13 points, 29-42.
Ogidan started the third as he ended the second scoring following great ball movement from Youngbloods. Agu and Ariyo continued to grind down Worthing’s defence scoring at will from mid-range. Worthing then hit two back to back threes of their own to bring the game to within 12 points. As Vasilauskas responded with a trey ball of his own followed by the next 5 points with great individual scoring efforts. Ogidan was then fouled in transition scoring the basket and converting his chance from the free throw line as Newham stormed into an 18 point lead. Sy and Ogidan continued to be dominant to help their side close out the third quarter with a 19 point lead, 44-63.
Youngbloods Ogidan again started off proceeding at the beginning of the final stanza quickly followed by a score from Sy much like the ending of the third quarter. Joshua Morgan and Alejandro Diaz-Pulgarin controlled play along with great defensive stops from Gustas Skorobogatovas who ran well in transition as Youngbloods continue to show swift ball movement which was so key in establishing their lead early on in their game, and their dominance was on display as Ariyo and Agu continued to be dominant in an all team affair last period closing out the game from the free throw line as they won the game with a 24 point margin, Final Score: 60-84.
“To come to Worthing and secure an important victory against a previously unbeaten Worthing side was a great feeling for us as a team as we have started to fulfil the promise shown early in the season. We had great Supporters today in Stephen Onireti, Nikki Distras, Chris Distras, Errol Porter and Daniel Porter who came to worthing to support us and this really spurred on the boys as they played fantastic team basketball full of energy.” Said Under 16 Boys Head Coach Aaron Senior
Youngbloods 16 Boys Premier will return to action next week as they battle for a National Cup Semi-Final spot against the City of Birmingham. Game tips off at 3pm at St Angela’s Ursuline School.