Tees United Lions hosted Ryedale Warriors in an U16 junior friendly at Billingham Campus. The newly polished floor made for the perfect setting as both teams entered the court.
Lions began in emphatic fashion with Patrick O'Connor converting the first 2 points after beating his marker for a lay up. O'Connor added another 4 points in the next three minutes with Miles Sayer and Marshall Patterson in good support with 4 and 2 respectively. In the first six minutes Lions had amassed a 12-2 run with only Wootan on target for the visitors. Dan Brown entered the scoring fray soon after with a well timed fast break under pressure and a jump shot from the baseline. Wootan was ploughing a lone furrow for Warriors and by the eighth minute had 8 of his teams 10 points. Miles Sayer and Alan Slasor ensured a strong finish for Lions as they combined to share 12 points. Curran, Blenchly and Mattusson each added a basket before the end of the quarter to bring the score to 28-16 in favour of the Lions.
In the second quarter Curran came out all guns blazing as he fired in the first two baskets to bring Warriors within 7 points. Philip Findlay wedged a shot in between and Jason Loveridge found the net shortly after to restore the 10 point cushion but in the fourth minute Warriors Mattusson made three shots in a row to instil some confidence in the visitors. Patrick O'Connor produced a stunning finish for Lions, hitting the last 8 points but Lions went quiet after this unlike Warriors who produced an 8-0 with Curran in fine form to bring the visitors within 1 point at half time, 42-41.
After the interval, Lions came out strong with Miles Sayer hitting the first two shots and adding 1 of 2 free throws from the line. Wootan though was re-galvanising the visitors and came up with a crucial shot as he weaved his way to the basket. In the fifth minute of the third quarter, Stoton received the ball in the low post for Warriors and produced a good move to secure 2 points. In an almost repeat of his first move Stoton then provided Warriors with the lead for the first time in the game 46-47, which gave the visitors even more confidence.
After going behind, Lions readjusted themselves and retook the advantage after Marshall Patterson grabbed a big rebound and then scored at the other end of the court. O'Connor then hit a big 3 pointer and combined with Sayer to make the next 6 points with Patterson rounding of the quarters scoring as he powered to the basket after an offensive rebound. In a good quarter for Lions, the home team regained a 6 point lead, 59-53 and would have been bigger had it not been for the heroics of Warriors Blenchly and the defensive presence of Newton who made three amazing blocks in this quarter alone.
The fourth quarter was Lions worst start as Warriors produced a 7-2 run to bring them within 1 point, 61-60, Curran again the thorn in Lions side. Patterson replied followed by O'Connor and then Sayer but this would be Lions last basket of the game and in an exciting finale to a great game Curran added another 6 points including a 3 pointer to his tally and then big Stoton finished off the Lions with two important lay ups to take a 2 point win 67-69.
This was one of the best junior games in a while with both teams not only playing superb basketball at both ends of the court but also a good spread of scoring on both sides. The MVP could have gone to a number of players with 12 year old Patrick O'Connor hitting 23 for Lions and producing some good play, supported well by Sayer and Marshall who were solid on defence and dangerous on offence. For the Warriors, Blenchly and Wootan gave a good account of themselves adding 13 points apiece but the MVP award was given to Curran who top scored with 24 and his 10 point haul in the fourth quarter effectively won the game for Warriors.
Game MVP: D Curran, Warriors
Lions: O'Connor 23, Sayer 22, Patterson M 8, Slasor 6, Brown 4, Findlay 2, Loveridge 2
Warriors: Curran 24, Blenchly 13, Wootan 13, Mattusson 8, Stoton 8, Newton 4
For more photos of game visit www.game-time.co.uk