Game 1– Day one of the BE Regionals tournament is due to start, the boys are excitable and ready to go and show the others regions what the West Midlands are all about. In our first game against the North West, starlets Tyrese Lacey of City of Birmingham and Ali Abushego of Team Birmingham establish themselves as go to players and the game score ends 38-18 however we lose this game because we lost the skills challenge due to lack of clear instruction. Despite this the boys are in good spirits as they know the actual game wasn’t close
Game 2 – Begins with a win in the skills challenge and a complete dominance throughout the whole game, there was great contributions from Keniah Downie and Kayin Nembhard-Brown who had a fantastic weekend defensively often being tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player. This was a comfortable victory against East Midlands.
Game 3 – The group is tight and only a win will is acceptable to this group who now believe we can win the group. These are the moments you expect your players to dig deep and come through. The team effort levels were low because bodies were tired after a long day of travel however important plays from Shakeem Dunkley and the excellent play of key reserves Leo Butt and Alasan Njie-Morgan kept the game tight throughout. Luckily we came away with the victory against the South East, which set us up for our final game of the day and enables us the opportunity to win the group.
Game 4 – Another brilliant start with a win in the skills challenge lead us into a game against the eventual second place team in the group South West who had two outstanding players and were much taller than ourselves. This was the break out game for Ali Abushego of Team Birmingham, he had a dominate 3rd Quarter and finished the game with a personal total of 22 points. With this win the boys are feeling much more confident and going ahead to the championship games the following day. Key contributions came from Rio Nembhard especially defensively coming up with key steals down the stretch helped West Midlands top the group and set up for a semi-final against East.
Day 2 Semi Final against East – For the first time since we have been entering a team into the regional tournament we found ourselves playing in the semi-finals against a heavily favoured East Team. We won the skills challenge meaning that 2 quarter wins would secure our place in the finals.
1st quarter – This is a shock for a lot of the players as they have never faced this level of intensity however good performances from Tyrese Lacey and Shakeem Dunkley kept it close. Unfortunately we lose this quarter.
2nd quarter – Seemed to be when the East couldn’t miss any jump shots at all. Ali Abushego and Joe Moss of Worcester Bears battled hard making several tough 3 pointers but again we came up short. This meant that the second half needed to be a West Midlands win for us to advance to the finals.
3rd quarter – Started with a Tyrese Lacey dominating play and the East were completely overwhelmed, an 8-0 run had us believing that this quarter would be ours and we could take the last quarter. However disaster struck and Tyrese was down injured. In stepped Suwayd Francis who didn’t miss a beat when insert to the game. We went on to complete the job and win that quarter.
4th quarter – Started with some strong attacking moves from Ali Abushego and Shakeem Dunkley but East were making all the 3 pointers and we had no solutions to the problem. Some really good work defensively from Rio Nembhard and Kayin Nembhard Brown slowed their guards down but they had an overwhelming height and length advantage which would eventually give the quarter to the East.
The heart and desire shown by the players was all we could ask for they left absolutely everything on the floor and we couldn’t have been prouder as a coaching staff to see everyone high fiving, supporting and holding their heads up high.
3rd – 4th place game against South West – Having beaten this team previously and knowing that they have some talent players the message was clear “don’t think this is going to be easy, we will have to earn this win” Tyrese Lacey had received treatment and was ready to play in our final game of the tournament in front of the observing eyes of the England u15s coaching team.
1st Quarter – This was a heated exchange with Tyrese Lacey playing his socks off finishing the quarter with 10 personal points however this was not enough and South West took this quarter. There was some confusion as to who won the skills challenge so it felt like a battle to win 3 quarters.
2nd Quarter – Started with South West having a flurry of baskets and going up 6 -0 in steps Ali Abushego and Joe Moss the dynamic pair went on to dominate this quarter with 3 pointers and full court rim runs that the opponents could not stop. West Midlands won this quarter by 2 points setting us up for the final 2 quarters in which we have to win because it is clarified that South West won the skills challenge by 1 free throw.
3rd Quarter – This was when Tyrese Lacey asserted himself as the top player in England at this age group. He was dominate in every skill in the game, getting multiple steals and rebounds defensively on top of hitting 3 3-pointers in a row and 2 floaters along the baseline. He also helped set up Ali Abushego and Shakeem Dunkley for multiple finishes around the rim. This quarter was a landslide.
4th Quarter – with all the momentum now with us and Tyrese receiving double and triple teams regularly it was time for others to step up and this was in the form of Joe Moss who hit 3 3-pointers Shakeem Dunkley who finished the game with 3 strong moves to the basket and Ali Abushego who could not be stopped attacking the basket. Tyrese Lacey finishes the game with 28 points personal and with 3 quarters won, West Midlands finished in its highest position ever at this age group 3rd.
Considering the lack of time spent with the team, the team spirit was fantastic, a bond was formed that allowed all players to feel comfortable and supported. The support from the parents and officials was outstanding. The coaching staff and players couldn’t have been more grateful for this support. The boys that participated this year have exceeded all the expectations that were set and achieved something that they will remember for a life time.
Head Coach U13s West Midlands Boys
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