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Report: Flyers U16s Win Play-Offs

Bristol Flyers Under 16s capped a remarkable season with victory at the National Basketball League Play-Off Finals in Manchester this weekend..

Having gone through the regular season in the South West Development League unbeaten with a 16-0 record the Flyers were seeded fourth out of ninety-four teams in England and progressed to the last sixteen play-offs.

On their way to the final Flyers overcame local rivals Dorset Storm in the first round, followed by Midlands East Champions Oakland College Wolves from St. Albans in the quarter-final. Both games were played in front of a home crowd at the WISE Basketball Arena at SGS College.

A tough semi-final away at Wolverhampton University saw the Bristol side face off to the number one seeded Sporting Club Albion who were also unbeaten coming in to the clash. A physical battle ensued with the away team holding their nerve and pulling away in the last quarter to book their place in the final with a 66-52 win.

Manchester’s brand new National Basketball Performance Centre was the venue for the final game of season with the free-scoring Leicester Dynamite the opposition. Flyers won the tip and jumped out to an 11-1 lead halfway through the first quarter thanks mainly to the hot-hand of Oliver Carey sinking a two-point field goal and back-to-back three-point shots. Flyers lead soon evaporated as Leicester came back with a vengeance and went ahead by one point with 47 seconds remaining on the clock at the end of the first quarter. Captain Corey Samuels scored the important basket to nudge the Bristol side ahead at the end of the first quarter.

The second period saw both teams trade baskets through the opening minutes. Excellent outside shooting from Leicester coupled with some costly turnovers from the Flyers saw Dynamite turn the game on it’s head and stretch their lead to as many as fifteen points going in to half-time. Two converted free-throws from Pavle Igic cut the deficit to thirteen points going in to half-time with Leicester leading 44-31.

AJ Edu scored from the first possession but Leicester’s lead stayed at thirteen points for the first four minutes of the second half. Callum Fitzgerald started the Flyers most decisive run of the game scoring from an Igic assist, followed by quick points from Edu and a huge three point effort from Fitzgerald again brought the game to two points. Samuels collected the offensive rebound and tied the game at 48 all. Igic and Edu combined to press the Flyers advantage and the period closed with the Flyers leading 54-52 outscoring Leicester 23-8 in the third quarter.

With the game tied at 65 all halfway through the final quarter the influential Harris keeping Dynamite in the game. Carey stretched the Flyers lead to four points and back-to-back two’s from Yeshe Chophell kept the opposition at arms length. Bristol held their nerve and the finals MVP AJ Edu iced the game with the final four points for the Flyers. Coaches Bourne and Marriott rotated the bench through the game and used the entire twelve man team with all players making important contributions at key times of the game.

An ecstatic Coach Marriott said after the game: "The guys really came of age today, they played the game with a confidence in not only their individual ability but that of their team mates also. They demonstrated a belief in the process that the team have gone through in the last five years to get to this point, they kept their composure and executed down the stretch."

Flyers U16s: Corey Samuels, Pavle Igic, Yeshe Chophell, Liben Mohamud, Seb Hodge, Harry Padfield, Sam Notice, Oliver Carey, Callum Fitzgerald, AJ Edu, Ethan Malschuk, Dan Koukouravas, Gus Edkins, George Kloska, Louis McClean. Coaches: Chris Bourne and Vince Marriott.

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