The first game of the 2018 Playoff Finals saw an overtime thriller where Stirling Knights were crowned victors, narrowly defeating City of Edinburgh in the U16 Men’s Final.
City of Edinburgh had very little answer for Knights’ Louis Sullivan inside in the first half as he scored 8 points inside early in the quarter to give his team the lead including a two-handed jam on the fast break after forcing a turnover on the other end. Knights did a great job of clearing up space with some excellent ball movement that allowed them to find them the open man. This allowed them to build a 13-9 lead halfway through the first quarter.
On the other end, Owen Mackle skilfully got into the paint and finished inside or dished it to the open man for the shot allowing them to stay within breathing distance for the majority of the first quarter. Shaun Samson was lethal from mid-range for City of Edinburgh as he knocked down 8 points to keep City of Edinburgh within 3 at 22-19 by the end of the first quarter.
Louis Sullivan wasn’t letting up as Knights came out in the second quarter as he quickly scored 5 points to extend Knights’ lead to 28-22. Sullivan would go on to finish the half with 22 points. Strong defence by both teams meant that both teams struggled to convert for the majority of the quarter. However, Kings refused to let the lead get away from them in the second as they stayed within 3 points by the end of the half after a late run trimmed the score to 35-32.
City of Edinburgh were quick to tie the game early in the second half as Owen Mackle knocked down a three-pointer on the fast break. However, Knights stayed in control of the game and didn’t let the lead slip away from them as their tough interior made it difficult for City of Edinburgh to get anything inside. By the end of the third quarter, Knights had a 46-45 advantage over City of Edinburgh.
Almost halfway through the final period, a run from Kings allowed them to take the lead for the first time in the game as 4 points from Owen Mackle, finished off by a layup inside by Beau Davidson put the Edinburgh side over the top. Kings would then increase their lead as Fin Rendall, Owen Mackle and Shaun Samson converted a two-pointer to extend Kings’ lead by 5. Louis Sullivan then brought the game back as two scores inside gave Knights the 59-58 lead. With 30 seconds left, Ewan McCormick then went to the line for 1 to put Knight up by two at 60-58.
Kings then called a timeout with 18 seconds to play, and on a shot inside, Shaun Samson was fouled sending him to the line where he made two. On the ensuing possession, Luis Sullivan was fouled on a drive to the basket where he missed both. However a foul by Beau Davidson off the ball sent Rob Gilmore to theline, who unfortunately for Knights could not make either shot from the line. Time expired and the game was tied at 60-apiece, sending the game to overtime.
Going into the extra period, Samson would knock down two free throws to give City of Edinburgh the lead. However, on the other end, Sullivan hit two consecutive layups to give Knights the lead once more. Finn Baxter then tied the game with two from the line at 64-64, only for Sullivan to reply on the other end and push the score to 66-64. After Owen Mackle made one free throw, Zak Stewart was sent to the line on the following possession where he sank both shots to give his team the 67-66 lead. Zak Stewart was then fouled once again where he went to the line to sink both to put City of Edinburgh up by 3. Two free throws from Knights brought them to within 1 and this was then followed up by the clutch three-pointer by Louis Sullivan to give Knights the 71-69 lead. The next possession for City of Edinburgh saw Owen Mackle grab the offensive board and get the putback to tie the game once again. Zak Stewart was then sent to the line once again where he went to the line to put City of Edinburgh up by two.
Knights then called a timeout andSullivann worked his way into the paint for the finish. Knights’ Miguel Cabot then forced a steal over and pushed it to Sullivan who finished on another fast break layup. City of Edinburgh couldn’t make anything of the next possession and as a result, Knights came away as the U16 Men’s Playoff champion, winning the game 75-73.
Louis Sullivan finished the game with a whopping 48 points. Owen Mackle was City of Edinburgh’s top scorer with 22 points.