West Brom Basketball Club seniors capped their regular season off with a fine 66-63 win over Churchbridge, effectively securing home-court advantage for the playoffs.
Hosting he side which they started the season to, losing that encounter convincingly – West Brom were dealt a blow ahead of tip-off with news of Michal Banczer being forced to withdraw from the side.
However, despite the loss of one of their leading scorers, Liam Sheridan’s side pulled out a dramatic three point victory behind a team-high 16 from Diogo Lima-Mendes, having led by double figures throughout the majority of the encounter.
West Brom started the stronger of the two, utilising a full-court press to catch the visitors off-guard and capitalising on turnovers to open up a quick lead.
Churchbridge steadied themselves later in the quarter, but continued to struggle with the quick start – and with West Brom smelling blood they continued to punish sloppy passes and seek out easy points going forward.
The sides traded baskets throughout the second quarter, with the visitors using their size advantage to negate the pace of the game, but they made little progress on the scoreboard, with the George Salter Academy side continuing to hold their nerve up until the start of the fourth quarter.
Refusing to give up, Churchbridge mounted a late comeback in the final period, and coupling that with poor shooting performances from West Brom – they soon found themselves within touching distance.
With the hosts mis-firing, the Staffordshire outfit dragged the lead back to just three points with less than a minute remaining.
A solid defensive possession was enough for West Brom though, and despite a late prayer from the visitors, they held out for the win, albeit after a questionable second half showing.
Player/Coach Sheridan was happy to see his side secure a win to end the season, although did express some disappointment with his side’s showing through the final periods.
“It definitely shouldn’t have been as close as it was given how well we played earlier in the game, but it was great to end the season on a win and it was great to have strength in numbers.” he said.
“Churchbridge aren’t a team to take a loss lying down, but I think our rotations and game management could have been a bit better late in the game.
“It was a great learning experience for our youngsters, they started the game with plenty of energy alongside our established players and they all made big contributions.”
One player who made his return to action for the game was Ezekiel ‘Ziggy’ Cameron, and similarly to Sheridan was thrilled to be back in the squad and pushing for playoff success.
“It was good, it was my first game back after the birth of my son, so for me personally it was good.” he said.
“I think first half we did good with the press and we moved the ball, in the second half I think we switched off a little bit.
“I’m looking forward to it [the playoffs], I think we can do well and I think we could win, but in order to do that we need to play well and not switch off like we did today.”
West Brom’s playoff trip tips off the week commencing April 16th, with the second round fixtures a week later should they progress.
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