Youngbloods Lions Under 12 were crowned Central Hoops Basketball League (CHBL) Playoff Champions this weekend overcoming two formidable teams.
Despite securing the third spot in the league, the team were optimistic about their chances and were determined to win the playoffs semi-finals. Standing in their way was a Sussex Storm team who got the better of Youngbloods earlier in the regular season winning but 25 points. The winner of this encounter will advance to the final.
A shaky start for both team as they struggled to find baskets early on. Impressive play by Ines got Youngbloods on their way. The Storm was gritty defensively making it difficult for Youngbloods and creating some good chances throughout. With 7 lead changes and both teams looking tired and inseparable, it was Youngbloods that eventually went on an 8-0 Run as Zachary De Los Reyes made light work of his chances backed by Leia Edwards shooting 80% from the free throw line to secure the win. Youngbloods advance to the finals to face Baltic Stars, last years winners.
The Battle of Newham was the showcase in the Finals as Youngbloods took on Baltic Stars Basketball Club who were crowned league champions. With all to play for, Youngbloods went on the offensive as Ines and Leia went to work scoring with ease in the first quarter and leading by 7 points. Baltic fought back in the second and the third quarter ending 35-35.
With nothing separating the two teams, Baltic would eventually take the lead due to unforced errors by Youngbloods in the 4th. Rotation from Coach Stephen saw Nathan Mwanja come in causing all sort of problems for Baltic. With 3 minutes left in the game, Youngbloods would eventually regain the lead with excellent free throw shooting by Amarlie Wilkinson and Leia Edwards. Both teams traded baskets and were showing signs of fatigue. This game went to the wire and was eventually settled as Ines scores from a fast break giving Youngbloods a 3 point advantage with 12 seconds left on the clock. Baltic had 2 chances closed the gap within that period but they failed to execute. Youngbloods eventually held on the become Central Hoops Playoffs winners for the first time.