Luke Hatfield lifted West Brom Basketball Club to their first win of pre-season in dramatic fashion, as the new-look side topped Spartans 69-66 at the LQ Arena.
Last season’s MVP was the man on the spot to leave West Brom smiling as he hit a last-gasp three pointer as the buzzer sounded – giving his side their first W of their pre-season preparations in a tightly contested game.
New head coach Tim Rudge has been tasked with getting his side ready for the upcoming season after numerous changes to the roster, and gave a glimpse of his plans for the campaign through the clash.
Hatfield was joined in the starting five alongside new faces in Delon Sharpe, Kashe Evans and Sam Rudge, whilst former MVP Ezran Little rounded off the openers.
Things started inauspiciously as both teams got to grips with one another, with plenty of defense on offer in a quarter somewhat short of scoring.
The second period offered a much more open contest, with the Black Country side finding their way into scoring positions and forcing their way to the charity stripe – helping to silence a large home crowd.
New signing Kwame Bataille was introduced late in the first half, immediately showing what he can bring with his size and athleticism, scoring back to back baskets and causing problems defensively for the hosts, who saw themselves leading by just three points at the end of the second quarter, 36-33.
West Brom were to take the game to Spartans in the third period as the visitors limited them to just five baskets through the quarter, whilst scoring 15 points of their own with some balanced offensive possessions.
By the start of the final period, the game clearly began to lack the atmosphere of a normal pre-season encounter, with both sides trading baskets before Spartans netted on four consecutive plays to open up a slender five-point cushion.
West Brom rallied, eventually re-taking a two-point lead with less than a minute remaining, only for the hosts to draw things level with an offensive put-back with less than 20 seconds remaining – leaving both teams with one eye on an overtime period.
That wasn’t to be the case though, as with the final play West Brom leant on Hatfield, who got his man in the air before banking home a three pointer as the buzzer sounded – triggering jubilant celebrations from the visitor’s bench.
Hatfield was delighted to grab the first win of pre-season, admitting that it was great to see the team fighting so hard in a game which could’ve gone against them.
“It was great to get the win, especially with so much drama at the end.” he said.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever hit a buzzer-beater like that to win a game, and to be honest I didn’t even know it happened right away. I got hit as I took the shot and didn’t expect it to go in, so straight away looked around to see if the referee had spotted it.
“Before I knew it the whole bench was running on the court and I figured it must have dropped in.
“But no, it’s great to see this team coming together like this, it’s a testament to the way Tim is coaching us. Everyone’s working as one, and we’re all backing each other to take our shots.
“It’s been really fun to play with these guys, and fortunately we managed to get the win this time. I can’t wait to see how we get on when the real stuff starts.”
West Brom Premier team host MLC in their league opener this weekend, with tip-off scheduled for 2pm on Sunday at West Brom Leisure Centre. Followed by the division 2 team hosting Shropshire Swarm at 6pm.
Scorers: Ezran Little 17, Luke Hatfield 15, Sam Rudge 9, Shekoni Faure-Lewis 8, Ezekiel Cameron 6, Kwame Bataille 4, Rees Johns 4, Matt Williams 2, Kashe Evans 2, Delon Sharpe 2, Daz Hong Jin 0, Sandor Erdei 0, Arjun Chauhan 0, Mudikani Kapfumviti 0.
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