The U11s travelled to Ellesmere Sports Village in Chester on Wednesday in the hope of retaining the ISA North Basketball Trophy. Bridgewater entered two teams in the competition that with 12 schools taking part, was the strongest field of teams than in recent years. The A team, consisting of Ellen, Florence, Oliver B, Lukee, Jaydon, Craig and Matteo, carried the main hope for success and they started off with a convincing win over The Firs. Ellen (2), Matteo and Jaydon scored the baskets in a convincing 10-0 win over last year’s finalists. The performance was full of tenacity and energy, with Lukee commanding in defence and Oliver driving forward at every opportunity. Ellen was the main danger in attack and was the most productive when under the net.
In the next game, and indeed for the tournament as a whole, the shooting ability of Ellen was to prove even more significant. Florence scored the first basket against Prenton Prep, whilst Ellen chipped in with four baskets and eight valuable points for the team. With another convincing win under their belts, the team was beginning to look as though they could be genuine contenders for the title. Unfortunately, despite excellent 4-0 win over Greenbank Prep, an injury to Ellen was to prove costly to Bridgewater ambitions for the trophy. Ellen scored both baskets in the hard fought victory, but suffered a suspected broken thumb when trying to intercept a pass. The resulting injury ruled Ellen out of the rest of the tournament when she was already the tournament’s leading scorer!
In game four, Freya was drafted into the A team to compensate for the loss of injury, which also had an impact on the B team’s hopes, as Freya was the leading scorer for that team! Freya scored immediately to make her mark, with Florence and Matteo adding further baskets to secure a 6-0 win over Clevelands Prep. With no baskets conceded and no defeats, the team went into the final game of the group stage knowing a draw would send them through to the semi-finals. Queen Ethelburgas also knew that a victory would send them into the semi-finals, therefore it was hugely important game for both teams. Bridgewater once again dominated possession and created a host of scoring opportunities. At the other end, Lukee and Matteo continued to smoother attacks and set Oliver away at the other end. Craig and Jaydon came into the action to try and create that one elusive basket and eventually it was Florence who produced the winning basket to give Bridgewater a 2-0 win and a 100% record in the group stage.
Topping the group gave the team the opportunity to play against Abbotsford, who had lost 6-2 to our B team in their group stage game. The tag of favourite appeared to sit heavily on the shoulders of the team and they found the opening minutes of the game difficult. However, with both teams pressing for the win, Bridgewater slowly started to impose their high energy style of play on the more technically gifted opponents. Matteo scored a fabulous basket from distance only for the Player of the Tournament from Abbotsford to go up the other end and throw in an unbelievably good equaliser. Abbotsford had the chance to win the game moments later when awarded two free-throws, but fortunately both shots were missed. Bridgewater pressed for a winner and Freya and Florence both hit the rim of the basket, whilst Oliver thought he had won it with a great lay up shot that just faded away at the end.
With players from the Chester Phoenix pausing from signing autographs to watch the drama unfold, the game ended in a draw and after two additional minutes of over time, the game went into a sudden death penalty shoot out. Despite the efforts of Lukee and Florence, the ball would not drop in and Abbotsford scored the one basket to send them into the final. A dejected team went into the third place pay off deflated and after a 2-2 draw, went into another penalty shoot out, which they also lost by one shot. All in all, it was a tremendous competition with basketball of the highest standard being played everywhere you looked. The A team never lost a game in normal play and but for some bad luck in front of the basket and without key injuries to contend with, would have probably gone onto win the tournament. Well done to everybody in both A and B teams and we will be back next year to see if we can bring the trophy back to Bridgewater.