The 2013 EBL Junior Final Fours took place this past weekend at the EIS, Sheffield, with the top four teams in the U14, U16 and U18 age groups fighting it out for the right to be called National Champions. See below for full results, leading scorers plus a few notes:
Under 18 EBL Junior Final Fours
Manchester Magic won the one junior title that has been alluding them since 2008, as they beat Conference side Barking & Dagenham Thunder 74-67 in the final.
The victory caps off a 22-0 regular season for the North Premier side, as Patrick Whelan was named MVP with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals and was instrumental in a number of key Magic runs throughout the game.
“I thought it was great final, one those games you knew could change anytime,” said Manchester head coach Richard Hill after the game. “We knew we would have to compete physically with them and run which I thought we did really well.
“I think for the club it’s a big thing as we have always fell short at under-18 level. We have a group of players that gave everything they had to the team all year and it paid off.
“Key now is to look to build on next year and get even better.”
Despite a Josh Steel three pointer from just inside the half court at the halftime buzzer to make it a two point game at the break, a dominant opening five minutes of the third quarter from Manchester put them firmly in control of the game.
Manchester scored easy baskets in transition and forced Barking to work for everything they had, as Thunder lacked urgency until the final minutes, by which time it was too late.
Whelan’s partner in crime, Pharroh Gordon, had 20 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 7 steals, as he got in the passing lanes and leaked out for easy baskets on the break, whilst Connor Porter joined them in double figures with 12.
The 1997 born Steel led Barking & Dagenham with 18 points, David Akibo added a 17 point, 11 rebound double double and Reiss Pinnock finished with 11 points.
2013 U18 Final Standings
1) Manchester Magic
2) Barking & Dagenham Thunder
3) London United Harefield Academy
4) Islington Panthers
3rd Place Playoff
The most competitive third place playoff of the weekend saw Islington Panthers make a huge comeback only to lose in overtime to London United Harefield Academy, 98-96.
London United led Islington by 13 with 5 minutes left to play in regulation, but an improbable comeback culminating in a Benjamin Nkossi fadeaway 3 at the buzzer from the left wing sent it to overtime.
The final hurdle proved too much however, as Panthers couldn’t seal the job in the extra period. Erikas Jakstys had 38 points to lead Islington (remaining scorers TBC).
Manchester Magic had little trouble dispatching of Harefield Academy as they won 83-64.
In a match up of the two conference teams in the competition, Barking & Dagenham Thunder rolled over Islington Panthers 82-60.
Under-16 EBL Junior Final Fours
Manchester Magic made it a three-peat as they won the Under-16 national title for the third year in a row, beating Nottinghamshire Nova 83-63 in the final.
With a side made up of a number of the same players who won the U14 title last year, Hamad Ali was named MVP, to add to his U14 MVP, finishing with 29 points and 15 rebounds.
Raheem Idris added 16 points for Manchester, with Daniel Walters adding 14 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals.
Notts were led by ’98 born Luke Mitchell, who had 14 points and 6 assists, whilst Matthew Parker added 14 points of his own.
2013 U16 Final Standings
1) Manchester Magic
2) Notts Nova
4) Birmingham A’s
Third Place Playoff
After the disappointment for both teams of their semi-final losses, NASSA had little trouble beating Birmingham 83-62 in the third place playoff.
Semi Final 1
Manchester Magic survived a near upset from Conference side Birmingham A’s, as they escaped with a 52-51 victory.
Birmingham jumped out to a 17-5 first quarter lead, lead by 11 points from Sedale Hanson-Young, and heading into the fourth quarter held on to a 14 point lead. However, Manchester put the clamps down, outscoring Birmingham 20-5 in the final period to steal a win; Hanson-Young’s game-winning attempt was blocked at the buzzer by Hamad Ali.
Ali lead Manchester with 18 points and Raheem Idris added 10, whilst Sedale Hanson-Young had 26 to lead Birmingham.
Semi Final 2
In the other semi-final, NASSA, who were many people’s favourites for the title, were upset by Nott Nova, 100-84.
Luke Mitchell had 20 of his 30 points in the second half to lead Notts, Truzzel Spencer had 27, Matthew Parker added 14, whilst Riccardo Guddemi had 11. Jonathan James had 22 to lead NASSA, whilst Akwasi Yeboah, who fouled out in the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter after battling foul trouble all game, had 18 points and Calvin Kintu added 17.
Under-14 EBL Junior Final Fours
Cheshire Jets reclaimed the U14 title they last won in 2010, as they beat Lewisham Thunder 59-57 in the final, thanks to a Sam Wilson floater with 23 seconds remaining.
Jets completed a perfect season where they went 14-0 in the North West. Max Jones had 19 points and 15 rebounds to be named MVP, whilst Wilson finished with 20 points and Joseph Cummins had 14.
Jacob Iwowo led Lewisham with 22 points and 8 rebounds, including the game tying three pointer with 37 seconds left which was then negated by Wilson’s heroics. Lewis Gale added 20 points, and Stephen Forster finished with 9 points and 13 rebounds.
2013 U14 Final Standings
1) Cheshire Jets
2) Lewisham Thunder
3) Peckham Pride
4) Sheffield Saints
Third Place Playoff
Peckham Pride cruised past Sheffield Saints, winning 94-49 to take third place in Sheffield.
Peckham’s Gediminas Juozipiatis was unstoppable, dropping 30 points in the first half to finish with 44, whilst Thai Segwai showed out on his way to 15 points (TBC) and a number of nice assists.
Semi Final 1
In a game that many were calling the final, Lewisham Thunder got past Peckham Pride 64-62 on a game-winning Jacob Iwowo three pointer with 30 seconds remaining.
Iwowo finished with 21 points, Josh Edwards added 15, Stephen Forster had 13.
Thai Segwai had 29 to lead Peckham, with Gediminas Juozipiatis adding 15.
Semi Final 2
Cheshire Jets got an 89-72 win over Sheffield Saints to be the second team to book their place in the final. Sheffield, the team who knocked out two time defending champions Manchester in the playoffs, couldn’t get past the Jets who continued their perfect season.
- For the first time in recent years, games weren’t officiated but purely younger refs; instead EB paired a younger one with a more experienced one. Made a huge difference.
- There were a few guys in the U14s (in the games that I saw) that were really impressive; Peckham’s Thai Segwai (’98), a 5’10” point guard who put on a show in both games, and 6’1″ Gediminas Juozipiatis (’98) who showed a nice outside touch, as well as an ability to finish around the hoop, and Lewisham’s Jacob Iwowo (’99) who hit two huge buckets in both games down the stretch and had his way with opponents.
- It was a slow weekend for highlights, with Benjamin Nkossi’s buzzer-beating fadeaway three to send the game to OT probably being the best of them – video coming soon.
- 1998 born Luke Mitchell showed his class, as one of the youngest players competing in the Under-16s (one of only five ’98 or younger born players listed on rosters) as he had 30 (20 in the second half) to lead Notts over NASSA , and then 14 and 6 against Manchester in the final.
- In the women’s, Hertfordshire Warriors took the U18 title, beating Sevenoaks 64-55 in the final with Vicki Gray being named MVP (box score). Haringey Angels won the U16 title, beating Manchester Mystics 98-62 in the final with Evelyn Adebayo was named MVP (box score), and also took the U14 title, beating Sevenoaks Suns 57-52; Gabby Nikitinaite (Sevenoaks) and Savannah Wilkinson (Haringey) shared MVP honours (box score).
- I think it’s time to scrap the current Final Fours format, either moving to having the semi-finals and final on consecutive days to mimic European championship style competition format, or making the semis and final completely stand alone events, a week or so apart from each other. Playing a national championship final two hours after finishing the semi is just not a good situation, it gives teams very little rest and no time to prepare, drastically reducing the quality of the final event. Additionally, if everyone knew who was in the final a week before the event, it gives both teams time to market it to their fans and organise travel arrangements to get a lot of fans in attendance (which in turn would make it more attractive to sponsors).
- A number of national team coaches from both GB and EB in attendance, overseeing proceedings. Good to see.
- Overall standard still pretty disappointing.
Did you make it to Sheffield? Thoughts?
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