West Walton’s Marshland High School under 14s basketball team travelled to Northampton School for Boys for their Central Zone Semi-final of the National Schools Competition.
Only twelve teams remained in the competition, so to get to this stage is an amazing achievement. Marshland High had been preparing for it as if it was their cup final.
After an intense warm up, and with a crowd of around 50, the game began with both teams matching up very evenly, both trading early baskets. Donatas Verikas was on fire, scoring Marshland’s first ten points, some of the baskets had the crowd clapping in appreciation. Much stronger officiating than the team were used to led to Marshland getting into foul trouble early which cost points but a three-pointer from Pawel Kaluzny closed the gap and ended the quarter 23-18 down.
In the second period, Northampton changed their tactics and double, sometimes triple teamed against Verikas. This had never happened to us before which led to some silly mistakes, but after a time out and a change of tactics we started to score some nice team basics. However Northampton showed how strong they were to take a 49-26 lead at half time.
In the second half Marshland competed far better, losing the third period 19-18 and winning the final period 20-12, so they actually won the second half by seven points which is a great credit against a team who were technically very good, well organised and tactically impeccable - even their bench players didn’t weaken their side.
At no stage did the boys let their heads drop, scoring some extremely good team and solo baskets.
Players of the match went to superstar Verikas who was the best player on the court. He scored 24 points including a three pointer, and he now has 155 points this season and 423 points since the start of Year 7.
Jaden Carter took the second player of the match award; his attitude, work rate and determination was outstanding, a key player on offence and defence, scoring 9 points.
Special mention to captain Marcus Holt who scored 16 and made lots of key blocks and rebounds.
Other point scorers were Kristers Skribans, 6, and Jordan Adebisi and Ant Sigurdsson, 2 each.
Thank you also for the input of the four Year 10 boys’ coaching, which has been so instrumental in the team’s success: Lewis Theobald, Jack Lane, Tom Gourley and Lewis Jackson.
In an outstanding season for the team, they were District and County champions, and they beat the Lincs, Notts and Warwickshire county champions as well as making the last 12 of a national competition.
Their coach said: “I am extremely proud of each and every one of the team. They have worked so hard and achieved so much.”