Wentworth edge Vanbrugh in qualifier clash

In a match that initially seemed very one-sided, a spirited attempted comeback by Vanbrugh ensured that spectators were kept on the edge of their seats, in this first round of basketball College Varsity qualifiers

Wentworth 50-43 Vanbrugh
College Varsity qualifiers

Images: Fiona Hill

In a match that initially seemed very one-sided, mostly due to the prolific efforts of Wentworth’s Kettanurak, a spirited attempted comeback by Vanbrugh ensured that spectators were kept on the edge of their seats, in this first round of basketball College Varsity qualifiers.

With the first ten minutes fairly end to end without score, the game got off to an uneventful start – both sides drawing breath at each missed chance, or cheering on sudden defensive turnarounds.

However, the peace was short-lived, and Wentworth drew first blood, with a well-converted penalty. This was soon followed the first of many jaw-dropping transitions by Kettanurak, who hurtled the length of the court in a spectacular solo effort, culminating in the first goal off free play of the game, putting Wentworth ahead 3-0.

Despite the ever-solid presence of Sobowale in defence, always there for the rebound, there seemed to be no containing Kettanurak, who seized upon a missed shot and instantly scored off a counter-
attack, building upon his sides lead.

Keeping Vanbrugh in contention, Tsoi took his time and cooly slotted a wonderful long shot home, before jogging back down the length of the court, acknowledging ecstatic supporters with a casually raised three fingers: 5-3 to Wentworth.

A brilliant team effort from Vanbrugh off a rebounding shot saw Williams hauling the leaders in a little with a goal of her own. But then Kettanurak, in what was rapidly becoming a one man show, wormed his way through a hapless defence again to respond, and leaving the scoreline at 10-5 at quarter time.

With the resumption of the game, the pace had clearly stepped up a little, with chances for both sides coming in thick and fast, and supporters and players growing more vocal in response. Williams was working constantly to set picks, leaving Wentworth’s defence in disarray, and the resulting furore presenting many chances for the side in purple, soon clawing their way back to 14 all, thanks to some stunning shots by Tsoi, and hard work by Sobowale at the back.

However, this resurgence had been with Wentworth’s main weapon on the sidelines, and Kettanurak’s return saw some fast breaks and superb link ups around the goal really pressurising Vanbrugh, and leaving the post-grads ahead 26-16 at half time.

Wentworth were now regularly finding the net, with Kono and Kettanurak racking up their score, and easing the side up to 34-18. Spectators from both sides couldn’t help but smile at Kettanurak’s pace, and Vanbrugh were aware that they needed to mark him out of the game, but lacked the manpower and energy to contain him. There was brief respite for Vanbrugh, with Sobowale scoring twice, and Tsoi managing a trademark 3-pointer, but Lamani created a couple of chances out of nowhere, leaving their squad up 44-28, with one quarter to go.

Vanbrugh then came out with a fighting spirit belying their diminishing energy levels, with Sobowale’s impossibly athletic, leaping interception set the tone for this final quarter, and the side in purple put up an astonishing comeback, with goals from Captain Clarke, Sobowale, and Tsoi, to the extent that – with five minutes to go – they were 43-50 down, and with every chance of pulling things back. However, it wasn’t to be, even with Sobowale granted a penalty with a thrilling five seconds left on the clock, and Vanbrugh had to concede defeat, in what was a hugely enjoyable fixture, letting a worthy Wentworth progress to the final, having won 50-43.

Vanbrugh skipper, Tom Clarke, commented: “It was good; I think we played really well. They had twice as many players, and they’re really good as well. It was a really good game.”

Wentworth’s captain, Charles Kamtoh, was already looking forward to the next stage of the qualifiers: “The game was really hard for us, and we had to fight to keep a good goal difference,which was very, very difficult, and something we will have to improve if we want to win the final.”

Vanbrugh: Clarke (C), Sobowale, Williams, Hazel, Tsoi, Sackey
Wentworth: Lamani, Kamtoh (C), Sotiriou, Gajczewski, Iacobone, Kono, Hanson, Kettanurak, Li, Tan, Kamtoh, Wang, Kettanurak

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