MENS BASKETBALL FINAL 8'S
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL FINAL 8'S
English Universities retain Basketball Home Nations title despite Northern Irish grit10/04/2009
Power play enabled English Universities to retain its men's and women's titles in a high-quality Home Nations Basketball Championships hosted by Durham University at Spennymoor Leisure Centre in April.
The sheer physicality of the English sides was too much for their opponents though Northern Ireland Universities men's and Scottish Universities women's provided spirited resistance and kept the issue in doubt until the final quarter of the deciding games in what was generally acclaimed to have been a high-standard tournament.
Scottish Universites men had the misfortune to lose two players, Matt Hoffman and Paul Cummins, through injury on the eve of the tournament and their coach Iain "Bull" Maclean, who suffered a family bereavement, though his assistant Stuart Glass readily stepped into the breach.
Cummins' former American college teammate from Lafayette, Matt Betley, was voted the tournament MVP.
Betley had opened with a super 40 points for Northern Ireland and Ian O'Boyle 24 as they served notice of their intent with a deserved 95-79 win over a looser, less gritty Scottish side.
English Universities Rob Stockwell, who led with 22 in the final game against Scotland, would surely have been an MVP candidate as might have been the former BBL and Great Britain player Julius Joseph who had 15 against Scotland and a game-high 17 against the Irish.
English Universities ground down the Irish in a dour 71-61 victory with their intense defence, the quarter scores saying much: 15-7, 20-21; 19-13, 17-20. In this game Betley and O'Boyle both had 19 for the Ulstermen, whose coach Deirdre Brennan also steers them in the Irish Superleague.
Scottish Universities women's, well organised by coach Graham (Ben) Gunn, fared better than their male counterparts, finishing second and holding England for much of the deciding game before going down 79-65.
Rowan Bell had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Scots but English captain and Great Britain cap Helen Naylor stepped up when needed after a casual start and scored a game-high 17 as England pulled away from a narrow 24-22 first quarter lead and 60-49 after the third.
The MVP award went to Chichester's German student Katharina Wohlberg who had 15.
Wales had the bad luck to lose their point guard Rachel Woods to a bad injury in their opener against England, Rachel suffering a dislocated ankle and broken tibia and ending up in hospital for two days and having to have pins inserted.
That made all the more commendable Wales' fightback and victory over Northern Ireland in an excellent third place play-off.
Results: men: England 99 Wales 53; N Ireland 95 Scotland 79; England 71 N Ireland 61; Scotland 89 Wales 76; England 106 Scotland 57; N Ireland 83 Wales 55; final positions: 1 England; 2 N Ireland; 3 Scotland; 4 Wales
Results: women: England 85 Wales 41; Scotland 66 N Ireland 45; England 87 N Ireland 43; Scotland 93 Wales 44; England 79 Scotland 65; Wales 60 N Ireland 52; final positions: 1 England; 2 Scotland; 3 Wales; 4 N Ireland.Written by Sandy Sutherland