UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 66
UNIVERSITY OF LEEDS SECONDS 74
BUCS League 3B – Wednesday 9th December
A stirring late fightback by York’s basketball side fell just short on Wednesday afternoon, allowing Leeds University seconds to exact revenge for defeat in last week’s reverse fixture. The 66-74 loss is by no means a disaster for York; who battled back with heart and determination, and remain well-positioned, with games in hand, to push the leaders in League 3B all the way.
Marcus Johansson was the stand-out player for the home side, sinking a number of three-pointers and generally being at the centre of everything good in York’s play. They were also inspired by Sergio Black and Deniz Ekren, who offered something different, not to mention boundless energy, each time they were introduced from the bench. However, their contributions were ultimately in vain, as a vibrant start from the visitors proved the difference.
Leeds opened as though last week’s three-point home defeat to York had offended everything they stood for, establishing an eight point lead in the blink of an eye and forcing their hosts to regroup with a third-minute time-out. York’s defence was breached at will during the first quarter, with Luke Burton particularly effective in scything through, and it took some time before any attacking rhythm was found – Johansson finally getting York off the mark with a well-executed three-point shot.
Sergio Black flys towards the basket on one of York’s attacking raids during Wednesday’s match. Photograph by Rachel Elgar.
While Leeds were clinical going forward, York were sluggish in reaching rebounds and were stumped by the zone defence they encountered, which was akin to white-shirted brick wall at times. Black was full of beans, as was Ben Barrett, but the frustration was palpable on the sidelines as chances were spurned, and Leeds ended the quarter 24-11 up.
When Leeds’ Hall waltzed through the York defence immediately after the restart, things were starting to look ominous for York, but Black had breathed life into the team and the link-ups became crisper as the second quarter progressed. However, Burton was still given licence to steam down the left and he took full advantage of the early Christmas gift by finding the basket on numerous occasions. Infringements weren’t helping York’s cause either, and they exceeded their team foul quota in the second, shedding needless points which enabled Leeds to sit on a fairly comfortable 36-27 lead at half-way.
The flow of the game needed to be shifted if York were to overturn the deficit, but Leeds were reinvigorated by the break and they roared into a six-point lead within a couple of minutes. The hosts were coming to rely on Johansson and he didn’t let them down, scoring from all angles to keep York in touch, but the Leeds duo of Hall and Burton remained influential at the other end.
Marcus Johansson (number nine) looks on as Brendan Moran goes for the points. Photograph by Rachel Elgar.
Entering the final quarter, the gap was narrowing with the score poised at 55-48, but York couldn’t rouse themselves enough. A spell of intense pressure resulted in Leeds pushing the game further beyond their opponents but, to their credit, York didn’t collapse and, even at 66-56 down with 2:38 left on the clock, they still believed.
Alas, it wasn’t to be, with silly fouls allowing Leeds a number of free throws and the stop-start nature of the game suiting the visitors. After the final time-out, another three-pointer from Johansson had York within half-a-dozen points, only for an immediate foul giving Leeds the opportunity to kill off their hopes – this vignette neatly summarising the match.
The late flurry of York points was gutsy, but was never going to be enough given their high foul count. Nonetheless, the side enter the new decade in a strong position, with plenty of matches left, in league and cup, to turn this campaign into a memorable one.