Game Time and Teesside Basketball League produced another great event at the Olympic Torch handover ceremony in Middlesbrough with over 50 players competing in a 2v2 tournament. The three age categories of U12, U16 and over 16 came alive with some superb displays of individual skill, attracting large numbers of spectators.
The event was hosted by Middlesbrough Council in central park to celebrate the handover of the Olympic Torch from Beijing to London and the Middlesbrough crowd were able to watch the ceremony on the large screen TV which has been present in the town gardens for the 2008 Olympics. Basketball was one of five sports chosen to stage activity and with Game Time only having less than two weeks to plan, they managed to pull off a corker with the basketball tournament providing a magnet of entertainment as stars of the present, past and future battled away to win the top prizes which included £120 in Foot Locker sports vouchers, medals and Game Time merchandise.
The U12 tournament proved the development of basketball is on the right track as a cracking final was produced by the Cobras and Tees Thunder with brothers, Youssef & Ahmed of the Cobras edging the win over Cameron & Lauren. The Final was won with a score of 6-3 after the Cobras pulled their way back from 3-0 down to win the game.
The U16 category was probably the most exciting as a host of very talented youngsters showed off their skills on the court. The Bulls did well with Liam McBride proving a formidable defensive presence, although they would fail to make the final after being beaten by the eventual winners, The O’Connor’s. The brother-sister team of Patrick and Christina brushed aside good quality opponents to earn their place in the final and come up against the star studded ‘DJ Marshall’ team with Marshall Patterson, Dan Brown and Jordan Nicholls. With the bonus of a sub and older team, the advantage looked to be with DJ Marshall, however 12 year old Patrick O’Connor stepped up again and again with great plays. Christina, the only female in the category proved she was more than capable of holding her own as she scored two baskets and dived onto any lose ball she came across. Marshall, Jordan and Dan didn’t disappoint as they played as best as any 13 & 14 year old player could hope for but it was the, at times, breathtaking ability of the youngest player in the category who led his team to glory by hitting the game winning shot with an audacious one handed basket from 15 feet, beating their opponents 9-7.
If the U16 category was the show of skills, the over 16 category was the show of passion as established stars in their own rights battled with each other to make the final. The teams to watch included Hartlepool with the talented Luke Thompson and Steve Harrington, Pathological Liars with Damian Warriner, Matthew Norman and Chris Lyle and the High & Mighty with 6’10 Andrew Marshall and 7’1 Dean Hanson.
The Pool stage was exciting in itself with Stockton Riverside and Low & Mighty showing their ability but failing to overcome the favourites. Richmond Vikings were another team when bathed in the shadows of the twin towers agreed to laugh rather than cry at the big guys sheer dominance. In Pool A the Pathological Liars sailed through to the final and their opponents would be the winner of Hartlepool v High & Mighty. In a hotly contested encounter, even the unquestionable talent of Luke Thompson was not enough as the Twin Towers comfortably won and headed to the final.
In the heated final, passion was overflowing as tempers reached boiling point with both teams desperate to win. The strength of Damian Warrinermade for a more difficult task, but the High & Mighty still managed to dominate as both Hanson and Marshall played to their strengths down low and focussed on powering their way to the basket, a tactic that had led them to the final and to this point no player had been able to stop. Warriner did use his athleticism to good effect and clawed his team back into the game with a succession of nice shots, but it would not be enough as the High & Mighty hit three baskets without reply to win the final 11-6.
As for the MVP’s the U12 and U16 categories were fairly easy to select with Youssef Badi and Patrick O’Connor standing head and shoulders above the competition. The Over 16 was a little more difficult as Damian Warriner showed skill, power and heart while Andrew Marshall and Dean Hanson showed intelligence and dominance in sticking to their strengths. In the end though the award was made to Luke Thompson, who although didn’t make the final was noted as the most talented player on display.
Special thanks to Lewis Tovey from Ransome Sporting Goods for providing the baskets for the event. Thanks also to David Whitney, Stephanie Edwards and Shannon Edwards for keeping the scores and Steve Lynas, Wade Tovey and Sid Nicholls for refereeing.
Thanks to Ravenwood Roofing and Foot Locker for sponsoring the event.