Youngbloods collect play-off title, as clubmates secure first-ever trip to final fours
PUBLISHED: 09:30 27 April 2018
Youngbloods had double reason to cheer after their under-12s were crowned Central Hoops League play-off champions and their under-14s qualified for the Final Fours in Manchester.
The younger team were third in the league season and faced a Sussex Storm side who had earlier beaten them by 25 points.
Both team struggled to find baskets early on, but impressive play by Ines got Youngbloods on their way.
The lead changed hands no fewer than seven times during the match, but Youngbloods went on an 8-0 run as Zachary De Los Reyes made light work of his chances and Leia Edwards shot 80 per cent from the free throw line to secure the win.
That set up a final meeting with defending champions Baltic Stars and Youngbloods went on the attack as Ines and Edwards helped build a seven-point lead.
Baltic fought back in the second and the third quarters to level at 35-35 and edged ahead in the final quarter.
But Nathan Mwanja came into the action for Youngbloods and began to cause problems, as they regained the lead with three minutes left.
Excellent free-throw shooting by Amarlie Wilkinson and Edwards, and a fast break by Ines, put Youngbloods three points up with 12 seconds left, with Baltic unable to close the gap.
After seeing their clubmates win the title for the first time, the under-14 girls hosted Ipswich at St Bonaventure’s, having won their league for home advantage.
But the visitors scored first and built a five-point lead, before Ines Goryanova helped Youngbloods settle their nerves and a good timeout by coach Caroline Charles got them refocused.
Ines, Fatima and Tinu had a run of points to put Youngbloods ahead and the sides traded points after that.
Anais Campbell came on court and straight away intercepted a pass and drove to the basket, only to be fouled as Youngbloods moved 22-20 up at the break.
It remained close at 36-34 and 52-51 at the next breaks, but the Youngbloods girls claimed a large percentage of offensive rebounds and Ines sank a three-point shot at a key moment on the way to a 77-70 victory.
Charles said: “Wow, what a game! The girls have wanted this from the beginning of the season. They knuckled down and everything I asked of them they have produced.”
Youngbloods go to Manchester on the weekend of May 5-6.
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