Derbyshire Arrows U18s on verge of national title amid high drama
Ecstatic Encon Derbyshire Arrows U18s are on the verge of a National Basketball League title after a dramatic victory over their closest rivals, Durham Wildcats.
In a tabletopping showdown, Arrows trailed by eight points at the interval but bounced back to triumph 84-72 to go two points clear of Wildcats in the North-East division, with two games to play.
A pulsating game also saw them snatch what is called the overall series from the Durham side. They had to win by 11 points to do so and led by nine with just three seconds remaining.
Up popped Alex Lycoudis in mid-court with an insane buzzer-beating three-pointer to spark jubilant celebrations among players and supporters, led by coaches James Kelly and his brother Jonathan.
The two teams had identical records of 12 wins from 13 games, and they exchanged baskets throughout the opening quarter, which ended with Arrows leading 17-14 after influential play from captain Joe Longden.
The second quarter saw Wildcats at their best, gaining momentum to lead 43-35 at the interval, despite seven points from Riyad West.
However, Arrows exploded into life in the third quarter, playing a brand of high-octane offence and athletic defence.
JJ Wright, Sam Taylor, Longden and Jabar Bika completely turned the game around to give their side a 64-55 lead.
Wildcats responded again in a tense final quarter, but Arrows held their nerve. Their top points scorers were Longden with 21, Lycoudis with 20, Wright with 18 and West with 13.