UNIVERSITY OF YORK MEN’S FIRSTS 59 vs. CHESTER UNIVERSITY MEN’S FIRSTS 101
‘It’s basketball Jim, but not as we know it’, I heard someone say during this game. He wasn’t wrong. This was an intensely physical game of basketball given a surreal tinge by the battalion of 40 Chesterian harpy cheerleaders and the relentless torrent of squealing they brought with them.
Many of Chester’s team have played in the English National Basketball league, and this quality showed throughout the match, with Chester notching up a century of points, a feat warmly received on Countdown, and certainly not to be sniffed at here. Not only did Chester have the flair, they had an unrelenting desire and intensity that snuffed out York’s candle of hope.
The tone was set before the game when Chester’s unnecessarily rotund coach, filled with a noxious mix of coffee and testosterone, threatened to start ‘breaking some heads’ if the game didn’t get started soon. Thankfully, this turned out to be an empty threat. But Chester took this aggressive attitude into the game, with a pressing strategy that had York struggling to get decent ball on the offence for much of the game, and giving Chester the platform to hit strings of unanswered points.
It became apparent early on in the first quarter that Braneth, Conniel and Ramouth for Chester could consistently hit three pointers: an ominous prospect for the York defence. So as another three pointer dropped into the basket in the first quarter, York called a time out to regroup and shut down some of this offensive threat. ‘Defence!’ the York bench chanted. But they were cruelly ignored by the players.
Chester were the better team against York and racked up the points…
Chester’s superior quality gave them a platform to end the first quarter with a lead of 30 points to 16. York, lacking the offensive outlet of three point shooters, had to drive to the basket. Consequently, York could only get a drip feed of points in the form of penalty shots, of which an infuriatingly high number were missed. Chester’s outstanding number eight Ramouth showed frequent flashes of his brilliance, with three pointers and mazy dribbles up the basket. But York kept in touch, to the chagrin of Chester’s coach who was told to ‘sit down and shut up’ by one of the referees during the game. He didn’t, and the tone was set for a feisty and unnecessarily noisy affair.
The second quarter started like it finished, with skimpily–dressed banshees hooting their deranged chants to nobody in particular. But the action on court gave them something to shout about. Chester started to pull away from York for the remainder of the game, as York’s key players, such as captain Joyce got into foul trouble, leading to substitutions – neutering, to a degree, the attacking threat of the team.
It was here that the situation really worsened for Joyce’s men, as ball was frequently given away in York’s own half due to Chester intense pressing game, which pushed York back toward their own basket like a hydraulic piston on a marshmallow. Muscular ballsmith Braneth was dominant under the hoop and secured a number of rebounds. Lanky and gangly Casemore secured a series of interceptions and easy lay ups. At the end of the second quarter with the score at 58-29, the game, it became clear, was Chester’s.
…But York showed a valiant fighting spirit
in the fourth quarter (Alexandru Hristea)
But York never gave up and continued fighting with snappily-named Kazimierowicz, linking up play up to the basket, and almost equally snappily named Niyongabo picking up some hard earned penalty throws. However, if we’ve learned anything from history, it is that people make mistakes. Look at Neville Chamberlain. And as it was in history, it was in basketball. Errors started to creep into York’s game, the longer the game went on, and they fought frantically to stem the flow of points to Chester who were on a seemingly impossible quest to their century.
Chester knew it too and started showboating a little gratuitously at the end with a series of Hollywood three pointer attempts.
Come the final quarter, they were only ten points away, but a York team rejuvenated by a memorable team-talk from skipper Joyce came back at Chester. Like Sean Bean in Lord of the Rings when he keeps getting hit by arrows, they had been mortally wounded but weren’t going down without a fight. They fought tooth and nail to prevent the arrival of three figures on the score board. But ultimately, it was in vain.
Captain Joyce was bullish after the game. “That is the stage we want to be at come the end of the season,” he said and, on provocation, “no, it wasn’t a basketballing lesson, but we can learn from it. They have obviously played a lot before and it showed, but at times I thought we did excellently against them.”
Basketball is a cruel and sweaty mistress. Chester were the better team and they will enjoy the coach ride home tonight, provided that their cheerleaders aren’t on it. York left everything on court, but it wasn’t enough. The BUCS cup must wait for another campaign.
York line-up: Vishnubala, Joyce, Johansson, Ekren, Nalton, Niyongabo, Kazimierowicz, Ng, Thedinger, Moran, Cheng
Chester line-up: Lightfoot, Sedgwick, Orphel, Robinson, Ramouth, Conniel, William Caemore, Morris, Braneth, Slater, Villa