Monday, April 10, 2017
Manchester Mystics U14 sealed their place at the Junior Final Fours with a 62-44 victory over Haringey Angels in the Play-off Quarter Final on Saturday afternoon at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.
To describe Haringey Angels girls U14s as big is as much of an understatement as calling Lewis Hamilton a fairly fast driver or Jose Mourinho as a tad full of himself. I had been warned that they had several tall players. Wrong. They were huge! Once I had recovered from a stiff neck looking up at their 6ft 12 #15, I reassured myself that we were well prepared and reminded the girls that our game plan remained sound. They were all excited about the challenge ahead and in confident mood.
What transpired proved to be well worth the wait. From Mystics point of view, almost everything turned out to be as we wanted. There was a terrific atmosphere. (No drums or horns!) The table officials and referees were excellent. (Despite the fact that we were called for 26 fouls to their 7 and they were awarded 38 free throws to our 7.) All 10 Mystics displayed enormous mental strength and togetherness to show once again that they are as well-knit as any high quality pullover.
Haringey had proved themselves to be a high scoring outfit, averaging 75 points per game with numbers 6 and 15 regularly amassing 30+ points each. Today they mustered just 12 and 10 while their team fell 31 short of its average. We did not put Clingfilm over the basket but we did play outstanding team and individual defence throughout.
Apart from a nervous start where we trailed 3-4 due to missing our first 5 lay-ups, our only sticky patch came at the start of the third quarter. We had deservedly established a 14 point lead at 29-15 and seemed in control. My half-time pep talk must then have acted like a dose of Mogadon and sent everyone to sleep because we came out after the break a scold as a frozen pizza. Haringey took advantage to cut the margin to 8 at 33-25 and lesser teams could have fallen apart like a cheap MFI wardrobe. I called a time-out in an attempt to stop the rot. (If I was being paid, that's what I would be being paid for!) My Churchilian speech- in the style of the dog rather than the politician- must have hit a nerve because we hit back with the Avengers, sorry, with avengeance in the shape of an exhilarating 15-3 burst to all but seal the deal at 48-28 going into the fourth period.
By now, my options were as limited as Donald Trump's intellect. 3 of our starters had 4 fouls apiece and Charli Wroe could not continue due to a bad back. It did not matter. The depth of our squad once again showed its value. The girls saw out the contest with a maturity and composure way beyond their years to finish worthy 62-44 winners thanks to a total team effort. Their skill and determination have earned them a place in the Final Fours on Saturday 29th April where we will face Richmond Knights at 12:00noon at the National Basketball Performance Centre at Belle Vue.
I have done some research and they have no one called Lancelot playing for them but will be challenging opponents, as any team would be at this stage of a national competition.
Thanks to Sammy and Nicola for their help and to all parents for their support and co-operation.