West Brom Basketball Club left it late, but secured a last-gasp win over league-leading Shropshire Warriors in dramatic fashion.
Facing up with early pace-setters, Shropshire, the Black Country side made the trip to TCAT expecting a tough encounter against a club who had already secured wins over powerhouses Birmingham Mets and Lordswood this season.
In stark contrast to their early season form, Tim Rudge’s side started with a flourish – scoring the ball at will, pouring in 30 points over the first ten minutes as the hosts struggled to get to grips with the game.
Mixing a potent inside scoring ability and an improved long-range shooting effort, West Brom continued to score the ball well in the second period too, before Shropshire fought back to keep their opponents in touch.
Catching West Brom off-guard with a late flurry in the half, Shropshire cut their defecit to a more manageable 43-48 scoreline as the half-time buzzer sounded.
Coming into the second half with a renewed spirit, Shropshire opened up in a four minute run midway through the stanza, momentarily gaining the lead – forcing Rudge to call a timeout as his side looked to stop the bleeding.
That did the trick too, as West Brom managed to quell the fast-paced offensive onslaught from the hosts late in the quarter, levelling the scores at 61-61, setting up an enthralling final period of basketball.
With both sides looking to create an opening early in the final quarter, it was West Brom who struck first with a quickfire run to open up a four point lead with just two minutes gone. Shropshire soon countered with a scoring flourish of their own to stay in touching distance as the clock ran down.
Kwame Bataille once again stepped up, scoring several of his his team-high 25 points in a late flurry to leave West Brom leading by just two points with two minutes to play in regulation.
Shropshire fought back once again though, tying the game at 74-74 with 23.5 seconds on the clock.
Both teams drew up their plans, with West Brom in possession of the basketball certain of the last shot of the game – and it was last season’s MVP Luke Hatfield who stepped up to the plate.
The shooting guard received the ball with only three seconds left on the clock after good work from Sam Rudge, nailing a deep three point effort to grasp a late lead – which proved insurmountable for the hosts, who saw a late heave fly off-target. VIDEO.
The win leaves West Brom with a 3-3 record over the season so far, and will prove a big morale booster for Rudge’s men.
Luke Hatfield admitted that the win was a huge result and could act as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“This was such a huge performance from us as a whole.” He said.
“It’s great to be the guy to hit that last shot – but it’s a testament to everyone who’s part of the club that we’re in that position in the first place, to win the game.
“Everyone played a huge role, Shropshire are a tough team too – it’s great to travel so far and come away with a win.
“With all of us pushing together – and with us playing like we did here, there’s no stopping us going on a run this season.”
West Brom’s next game is up against Stafford Spartans in the Rose bowl competition. Due to their league position, Stafford will be receiving a sizeable 74 point handicap in the encounter.
The game will take place Sunday November 11, tip-off at 6.15pm.