Last Wednesday saw a full day of basketball in the Tent, with all three university sides having home games; the Women’s 1sts faced Sheffield University 1sts, the Men’s 2nds took on Leeds University 3rds, and the our Men’s 1sts were up against their joint-top placed Leeds Beckett 3rds. The day was set to be intense, with BUCs league placing on the line for all teams, and especially important for the Men’s 1sts, who are looking to get promoted this year. The atmosphere in the Tent was made all the more exciting with a large home crowd supporting the York sides, and they were not disappointed.
York Women’s 1sts started off the day with a low-scoring yet hard-fought game, and they came out as victors by a single point, with the final score at 49-48. This sets them up nicely, with great confidence going into what will be another tight game this Wednesday, at home against Northumbria 2nds in the quarterfinals of the Cup.
The Men’s 2nds put on another great performance, and their squad managed a decisive win against Leeds University Men’s 3rds, finishing the game 64-35, giving the growing crowd a lot to cheer about.
With promotion on the cards for both sides in the final fixture, the Men’s 1st team’s 17:30 tip off was the most anticipated of the day and, with a packed tent of supporters, they definitely made it a nail biter. The game was one of fluctuating fortune, as despite the fairly stable lead held by Beckett throughout the first half, the final two quarters were a completely different story.
The first half saw some great shooting on both ends of the court, but it was Beckett’s 6-point streak at the opening of the second quarter, and consistency at the free-throw line, in what was a high fouling period for York, which gave them a big advantage. This helped them to fend off a tenacious York side, whose high intensity defence, and subsequent cheeky steals helped them to fight back from a 9-point deficit, to pull it in to finish the half chasing at 31-36.
It was then in the third quarter where the fun started for the Black and Gold, as 6 consecutive, and decisive, points – two of these again coming from a steal and ensuing fast break – put them ahead for the first time in the game, at 45-43. What would come next would be a hard fought quarter, with the lead erratically exchanging hands multiple times and York stopping their opponents from running away with the lead with some on-point free throw shooting. The last minute of the quarter saw York’s dominant captain, Nikos Barbatsolos, take the lead with two free throw points, and then successfully convert a counter-attack (coming from his own steal) to put York ahead 55-51 going into the final period.
The final quarter turned out to be just as unpredictable as the first three. York got off to a flying start, with a 7-point streak as a result of a stream of interceptions and storming fast breaks, and a solid defence, in which they stopped Beckett from scoring a single point in the first 5 minutes of the period. This gave them the healthiest lead of the entire game – 11 points – and on their way to clinching the win. However, two consecutive 3-pointers from the Beckett side, a couple of on point shots and a technical foul on a 3-pointer gave Beckett the opportunity to close the gap to a 3 point game, and retain possession. Luckily for York, the Beckett shooter was completely psyched out by the overwhelmingly loud supporters taunting him on the baseline and he only managed to convert one of three shots.
But with 22 seconds on the clock, and only 5 points between them, there was still all to play for – and Beckett proved this by converting another free-throw, and stealing the ball to make an unbelievable 3-pointer – and drawing the foul! Suddenly it’s a 1-point game, with 12 seconds to go and one free throw still to come. The tent now truly reached boiling point and the York fans showed what they were made of yet again, roaring down the place and making an already high-pressure shot even more difficult to make. Luckily for York, their errors in the final seconds of the game did not cost them, and the Beckett player missed his vital free throw. With the York captain converting a free throw at the opposite basket, the game finished with the home team two points ahead, at 72-70, and completed a full day of three out of three wins in the Tent.