Basketball firsts denied in thriller

The men’s basketball firsts narrowly lost out 55-51 to Huddersfield in a brutal encounter on Wednesday

Image: Sam Newsome

Image: Sam Newsome

UNIVERSITY OF YORK 51

UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD 55

In an intense physical clash – where the court resembled a battlefield more than an arena of sport at times – Huddersfield firsts just about clung on to deprive York firsts of a victory in a thrilling, close-fought match.

A frenetic start to the game saw both teams pounding up and down the court. Slotting away the first basket was Moran of York, whose physical presence and reliability on the rebound came to signify one of the key elements of the game. In a quarter dominated by action underneath the backboard, York took advantage of Huddersfield’s inability to deal with their thundering advances into the key. Moran was always present for any near miss and cleaned up effectively for York to take the lead 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw no let down in the amount of bodies come crashing to the ground and it was clear that free throw success would be vital. York’s play in this quarter was not as precise as the first. The old adage ‘keep your eye on the ball’ seemed applicable, as simple passes turned into costly fumbles that enabled Huddersfield to come charging back into the game.

A more lucid Huddersfield team tested York’s defence from inside and outside the three point arc. Important blocks – a notable one from Moran – not only stopped Huddersfield from acquiring more points, but also set up more opportunities for York down the other end of the court courtesy of some quick breaks. With the buzzer signalling the end of the second quarter York led by one point 22-21.

Image: Sam Newsome

York appeared more co-ordinated at the start of the third quarter, relying on a regimented attack rather than an all-guns-blazing approach. Mikalinnoy used his physical prowess to overpower three of the Huddersfield team, add a further two points to York’s tally, and build some much needed momentum. Precision passing from Liu brought a sense of decorum to the game and enabled Moran and Mikalinnoy to take full advantage of a flustered Huddersfield defence.

York’s four point lead was soon depleted however courtesy of an onslaught from Huddersfield, including another three point basket. With a tenacious Huddersfield threatening to pounce, Mikalinnoy once again barged his way through the opponents to score a vital lay-up that set the scene for a tense final quarter. York 34 – 36 Huddersfield.

With points being added to the tally of both teams regularly in the final quarter, one inspired movement could claim the match. Barrett of York provided one when, like a bolt of lightning, he sprinted into the Huddersfield key and completed a pass to Baark who managed to secure a slender one point advantage for the home side. Mikalinnoy rectified any previous misses with a lay-up of his own, and a gravity-defying leap for a rebound basket following Baark’s near three point miss provided a nail biting finish.

With two minutes left and only three points in it, Huddersfield claimed another crucial three pointer that, when followed by two successful free throw attempts, cemented their four point victory of 55-51 in a brutal contest.

After the game, Barrett of York cited the omission of key players and Huddersfield’s impressive shooting as deciding factors: “Unfortunately we were missing a few of our first team players, so it was hard for the seconds to make the jump up to this level. They performed well, but it was ultimately Huddersfield’s success with their long range efforts that gave them the win”.

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