The U11 mixed basketball team headed off to Ellesmere Sports Village, Chester this morning, to participate in the ISA North Basketball Tournament. The team had high hopes of going far in the competition but after seeing the draw, knew it was going to be a tough ask to get out of the group stages. Having reached the semi-finals in 2018 and winning the event in 2016 and 2017, there was a great deal of hope and expectation on the team.

In a group with Cleveland’s Prep A, Beech House, Brabyns, St Joseph’s Park Hill and Queen Ethelburga’s, it was going to need a royal performance to secure one of the two places needed to progress into the semi-finals. First up was a game against Brabyn’s Prep from Stockport. After a slow start, Allegra eased Bridgewater nerves with two baskets, followed by one from Eloise and a fabulous three pointer from Jaydon.

In game number two, Bridgewater dominated possession from the tip off against Beech House. The fitness, sharpness and determination were too much for the opponents as Bridgewater ran riot in front of the hoops. Eloise scored seven times, Molly and Jaydon scored two each, whilst David completed a 24-0 win.

Next up was the perpetual rivals Queen Ethelburga’s, with both teams needing a win to put them top of the group. The defending from Matteo and David was outstanding, giving Bridgewater the platform to launch their attacks. In the end, Jaydon scored again, and the impressive Eloise scored a hat-trick to secure an 8-0 victory.

With two games to go, Bridgewater had to find their shots, rebounds and lay ups if they were to overcome Cleveland’s Prep A team. This was a real battle as Cleveland needed a win to qualify for the semi- finals. Alfie, Craig and Thomas provided energy in defence, whilst Matteo was becoming impassable. Chun Ka went close to scoring, but it was a solitary basket from Eloise that gave the team the 2-0 win.

In the final game of the group, Bridgewater took on St Joseph’s Park Hill. With top spot and a semi-final place guaranteed, Bridgewater cruised to a comfortable 4-0 win, courtesy of baskets from Molly and Allegra. The team were yet to concede a single point and were drawing attention from everyone present, including two of the players and the coach from resident professional team, Chester Phoenix.

The semi-final saw Bridgewater go up against Greenbank Prep, who they had beaten two weeks ago in a challenge match. In all fairness, the game was a mismatch, as Bridgewater fired in shots from all over the key. Eloise continued her outstanding form, scoring five times, before Molly and Jaydon confirmed the place in the final. The final was a re-match against Queen Ethelburga’s, who has dispatched Ladybarn in their semi-final.

The final was not the best of games, with nerves getting the better of both teams. Bridgewater edges possession, but the opposition were extremely quick and dangerous on the break. Eloise broke the deadlock to put Bridgewater ahead, but the unthinkable happened moments later… Bridgewater conceded their first basket in seven games and nearly an hour of play. Both teams went for the win and had chances to win it. Fortunately, Jaydon seized the moment and scored a wonderful layup shot with the last attack of the game. The whistle blew seconds later to the delight of the Bridgewater squad, who thoroughly deserved the title. The hard work and dedication of so many youngsters for the last twelve months in preparing for this tournament paid off. Eloise was the top scorer, Matteo the best defender and Jaydon scored the baskets of the day. However, it was a whole team effort, including those who could not make the squad today, as the internal competition for places has surely contributed to this team doing so well. Very well done everyone – a fantastic way to end the year and hopefully we can look forward to more sporting challenges and achievements in 2020.

Bridgewater Basketballers Bounce Back in ISA Finals

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