As the opening round of BUCS fixtures got underway, there was joy to be found for the Men’s Basketball second team as they beat local rivals, Sheffield, in an extremely competitive affair. Leeds went into the game knowing they won last season’s fixture against their opponents 76-66 and hoped to emulate this performance, or the result at least. Team-work, strong defence, quick counter-attacks and camaraderie were just some of the many qualities shown by the Leeds side, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Pooyan Khalili got the first points on the board for Leeds, in a first quarter which was, in all honesty, quite nervy. Not surprisingly, since the players are still getting to know each other and adjusting themselves back into the University season, the first period saw, from both sides, some stray passes, some easy fouls committed and several missed opportunities. The aforementioned Khalili scored a wonderful triple throw to reduce Sheffield’s lead to 11-7 after just seven minutes. However, after a sublime triple of their own, and a speedy counter-attacking move, the away side took a 16-12 lead as the first quarter of the match drew to a close. There was, naturally, a long way to go in the encounter.
The second quarter was, however, a turning point for the Leeds outfit. The introduction of Jordan Davis seemed inspirational, as he composed himself for a fantastic three pointer to reduce the lead to 15-17. The home side started to put huge pressure on Sheffield. This quarter saw the Leeds duo, Scott Fisher and Jordan Davis, start to give Leeds the advantage. A fantastic solo effort from the latter made the score 26-28, before the former made it 28-28, in a match that Sheffield had perhaps slightly dominated up until then. Pooyan Khalili then scored two points of his own to make the half-time score read Leeds 30-28 Sheffield. The big question, could the Gryphons keep this excellent play up?
The second half began in excellent fashion as Captain Niall Murphy scored a solo effort to increase the lead to four points. The substitutes were cheering from the side-line, giving all their support, this was clearly a side with an abundance of teamwork. Sheffield, however, pulled back to put the game on a knife’s edge at 34 apiece. Jordan Davis, characteristically, scored a brilliant triple, and, after three missed attempts, John King scored two points to give the home side a five point lead before a Time-Out was called. This was in order for the coaches to give their tactical analysis, and any bit of encouragement which could make that small bit of difference. Leeds were, at this point, very much in the ascendancy. The third quarter ended magnificently for the home side: a fantastic couple of points for King, before a fantastic run from Fisher to assist King. An outstanding composure from one of the stars of the match Jordan Davis meant Leeds went into the final quarter with an eleven point lead as the score stood Leeds 47-36 Sheffield.
Sheffield did not give up without a fight, although at this point in the match it did seem quite likely that Leeds would be the victors. A late mini-resurgence from Sheffield meant that at one point they fought back to make it Leeds 52-49 Sheffield. However, everything Sheffield did, Leeds did too. It was like a game of poker. They matched us, and we raised them. With just two minutes left on the clock, the score was 56-49. King scored two decisive points to increase the lead to nine points, and from then on, the game was clearly over. Eventually, Leeds would score a few more points to make it finish 62-50.
This was, in the end, a relatively comfortable win, but easily could have gone either way. The facial expressions on the player’s faces said it all really. Leeds were ecstatic at the prospect of winning their opening game of the season, whilst Sheffield were disappointed that they did not do more to take the win. Unfortunately, these tight margins are the way sport works, especially in such a close and competitive sport as Basketball.
Leeds 62-50 Sheffield
Photo credit: University of Leeds