The Teesside Basketball League will begin this week with Darlington Storm the latest addition to the increasingly popular sports league. Last season saw SCM Sonics claim the division 1 title while Middlesbrough Lions B lifted the championship in division 2.
This year looks to be another tough season with a number of top quality teams in the elite first division including Middlesbrough Lions, Hartlepool Heat, SCM Sonics and Richmond Vikings. The Vikings have added some strength to their squad with the loss of shooting guard; Lee Norton being topped up with some new signings. Hartlepool Hornets will be another to keep an eye on, after being absent from the league for a season. Sonics management have suggested they will endure a tougher season this year due to a number of players either leaving the club or being unavailable on match nights.
In Division 2, the focus is again on developing teams and Middlesbrough Lions, who have a great track record of developing young players are looking to do so again with a third team in the league. The Lions will enter a B team and also a C team which will consist mainly of their National League U16’s to provide them with more experience.
The Sonics have decided not to enter their second team this season, although Darlington have come into the league and are looking to stamp an authority in the local basketball world. Head Coach; Jonathan Thompson is confident of a good season adding “We have played and won both pre season games, one against first division opposition, so I think we have a good chance of winning the league.”
Another team developing nicely is Egglescliffe Explosion who only joined the league last season and after a slow start began to settle into a stride to finish third.
The club who also seem to be enjoying success off the court have just received a £7468 National Lottery grant from Awards for All which is allowing the club to develop in a big way. Along with new kit, basketballs and other equipment required to run the club, they have also purchased an electronic scoreboard for match nights and are aiming to generate a big game atmosphere to follow in the footsteps of National League outfit; Middlesbrough Lions.
The club was founded by PE teacher; Gary Fergusson and is coached by Middlesbrough Lion star and Level II coach; Damian Warriner with assistance from Imran Yasin. The club was awarded 'Most Improved Club' by the Teesside Basketball League in their first season, and aim to take the club forward in the next few years by developing a junior section to support the excellent work that is going on at the senior level.
If anyone is interested in playing, they should contact Gary on 07818 215044. Training nights are Fridays at Egglescliffe School (7-8 Juniors-U14, and 7-9 Seniors). Training costs £1 per hour and boys and girls, men and women of all abilities are most welcome.