The opening fixture of the 2019 SBC Playoff Finals got under way with the Under 16 Men battling it out to be crowned this year’s champions. Undefeated Stirling Knights were seeded the home side, with the SBC League and Cup winners looking to complete the treble with a win over a strong West Lothian Wolves.
Stirling came out strong, furiously attacking the basket in transition, blowing Wolves away early on. A strong transition offence coupled with their sharpshooters on the perimeter allowed for Knights to race out to a quick 8-0 lead.
Wolves’ Calum Mortimer was having to work extra hard for every point. The towering big man managed to find his own team mates open as the racked up early points in an attempt to close the gap.
The gap couldn’t be closed however as Stirling maintained their dominance and etched out a 23-12 lead to end the first.
Wolves used the interim to their advantage as head coach Mark Stevenson set things straight, his side coming out of the gate strong and cutting the 11 point lead down to 6.
An open lane on the fast break left Wolves’ big man Calum Mortimer to throw a big dunk home to cut the deficit to 3 and the Wolves fans erupted in the stands.
The strong comeback left Stirling head coach Les McGlasson asking questions of his boys as they had allowed for half-time to loom over them with a marginal gap.
With the momentum shifting, Wolves ended the half on a tear, trailing only by 1, 34-33.
With the momentum fully in West Lothians corner, they managed to reverse the deficit and took the lead behind some impressive team basketball and hustle on the defensive end. Stirling couldn’t respond in the third quarter – the effort was there but nothing fell.
Wolves’ slim lead ballooned to 8 points before Knights could respond. Back to back threes from William Kemp saw the lead cut back to 3, still in Wolves’ favour.
Another three from Stirling tied the game up but Mortimer went to the line to regain his sides lead as Wolves went into the fourth quarter up 55-54.
There was electricity in the air as the fourth quarter started, with the two teams poised to put on a show for the Oriam crowd.
A better defensive performance would be needed from Stirling if they were to complete the treble this year, with the West Lothian fast break tearing them apart, they stayed in control.
A three point barrage was on show as Louis Dalziel tied the game up on one end, but Wolves regained their lead on the other. With the interior clamped up, it would come down to who could space the floor the best.
The spacing did impact the game as Stirling raced back to trail by one. As the defence moved out, the offence moved in and the basket was attacked hard.
After what felt like an age of trailing, Stirling finally regained their initial lead as they pounded the ball to the basket. A strong defensive effort maintained their lead as they climbed out to a 6 point lead.
A final basket from Knights sealed the game as Stirling Knights were crowned the 2019 U16 Men’s Playoff Champions, with a final score of 79-71.
Report courtesy of The Church of Hoops