BASKETBALL: NSB Under-16s celebrating national title success
Northampton School for Boys Under-16s basketball team are the national schools champions.
The team travelled to the National Basketball Centre in Manchester for the Conference final, hoping to make amends for the loss at the final hurdle last year.
The team had some very close games in the build-up to the finals, narrowly beating some strong basketball schools en route to the final four competition.
The final four draw fell unkindly for NSB, placing them against a basketball academy and competition favourites Bristol Metropolitan Academy in the last four.
The game was tight with the lead constantly changing hands.
NSB looked in trouble as they found themselves two points down with just over a minute to go, but Ben Nailer hit a three-point shot to see NSB take the lead.
Bristol called a time out to regain some composure, and scored off their next offence.
However, Bristol returned to the court with six players when they scored resulting in a technical foul for the team, but the two points still stood and NSB were now one point down with time running out.
Nailer again stepped to the forefront and hit all three free throws to give NSB the lead with only seconds on the clock.
From the very next offence Nailer hit another three-pointer to put them out of reach of Bristol, causing them to foul and rely on NSB missing their foul shots.
However, NSB showed incredible composure under such pressure and went on to hit all of their free throws with Nailer and captain Chris Amankonah leading the way to win 62-56 and send NSB into their second national final in two years.
The final saw NSB compete against Evelyn Grace Academy from Brixton, and it was another close encounter.
NSB started well, but fatigue from the tough semi-final soon started to show as they made too many mistakes and also got themselves into foul trouble.
The depth of the NSB bench showed they managed to stay very close to Evelyn Grace, despite having captain Amankonah and starting point guard Jude Carmichael on the bench with foul trouble.
Towards the end of the third quarter NSB found themselves five points down, with Evelyn Grace being led by their star player Niezeri who scored 52 points.
The turning point came when NSB, who had managed their foul trouble throughout the game, were able to bring back their starting five for the final minutes.
The fourth quarter belonged to NSB who outscored the Brixton team 24-16, behind strong scoring quarters from U15 players Carmichael (7) and Nailer (8).
The Northampton lads eventually sealed the match 83-75.
Finals days results - semi-final: NSB 62 Bristol Met Academy 56 (Top scorers: Nailer 27, Amankonah - 23)
Final: NSB 83 Evelyn Grace Academy 75 (Top scorers: Nailer 24, Carmichael 23, Amankonah 18)
ON the same weekend, the NSB Under-12 team attended the first ever National Celebration Basketball Day.
The Northampton lads had qualified by beating Rawlins Academy from Leicestershire, and one the day they had to play against three schools in their group.
Their opposition were Helsby High School from Liverpool, St. Aloysius College from London and Tuxford Academy from Newark.
The NSB team competed exceptionally well on the day and won all of their games.
There were 19 schools present on the day and despite not playing all teams, the coaching staff were able to see the level of competition from all around the country and the future looks bright for this team if they continue to work hard and maintain the dedication.
The teams also got to take part in a shooting challenge and wheelchair basketball which the players thoroughly enjoyed and really polished off the whole event.
NSB 67-Helsby High School 35 (Top scorers: I Round 17, J Tutt 14, T Olutokun 10)
NSB 55 St Aloysius 21 (Top scorers: I Round 28, J Tutt 7, M Dryden 6)
NSB 59 Tuxford Academy 49 (Top scorers: I Round 20, R Khalid 14)