England Schools Basketball Campaign Starts With Convincing Away Win

When the fixture list for this season’s matches arrived in September and I saw we were in the same pool as King’s School Macclesfield, an initial search of their website revealed little mention of basketball but I did notice that their rugby union team for this year group had reached the final stages of the national schools competition last year. Therefore it seemed safe to assume that we would be faced by strong athletic players with a tradition of sporting success.

Many of you will have driven past the imposing façade of King’s School in the past, as I have many times, so the notion of competing against them in a prestigious competition appealed to me, particularly since we have developed a tradition of high achievement in basketball since the Ball Hall opened.

The match was actually played at Macclesfield Leisure Centre, which we eventually found just in time, in spite of the early Friday evening traffic. With no ball supplied to practise with and only five minutes to warm up, our 2013 campaign began at 4pm sharp; a match of four 12 minute quarters, refereed by experienced neutral officials.

It is several months since the Boteler team played together but the first five are all active members of other clubs and have been regularly working on their skills outside school. Both teams looked competent in the warm-up but once the match started, it soon became obvious that our skill levels were way above the other team’s. Hardly putting a foot wrong and playing with a combination of intensity and precision which I have rarely seen from even the best Boteler teams in recent years, we had soon opened up a considerable lead.

The King’s players were at a loss as to how they could prevent us scoring. Josh McLean(22pts) and Jacob Lloyd(22pts) both scored a flurry of three pointers, which drew out the defence leaving gaping holes for Aaron Ashton(10pts) and Liam Hickson(8pts) to exploit, benefitting from the excellent vision and passing skills of Josh, Jacob and Cameron Burrows(10pts). These three players are the backbone of the team and led superbly.

As the game unfolded, the players began to have concerns over certain aspects of the refereeing at times, which threatened to take their attention from the main objective of winning the game. With the issue of foul trouble the only possible obstacle to victory, we slackened off in defensive rebounding, which allowed King’s to score more than they deserved. The result was however never going to be in doubt.

Having lost the mercurial Taylor Hindes to injury before the game, we were down to eight players, two of whom, Reece Watts (2 pts) and Renz Foxall, had not represented the school before. Both came on for significant periods of time and played well in both offence and defence. Our overall superiority was underlined by Y8 player Matthew Lloyd’s performance against players 3 years his senior. Not only was he equal to the challenge but also scored an excellent 3 pointer towards the end of the game.

The final result was 77-42 in favour of Boteler but the gap could easily have been significantly wider. Matching the King’s team in physical ability, our skill level was way above theirs. We scored well over 50% of our points from 3 point outside shots which is an amazing statistic for players of this age. The King’s players were very sportsmanlike and the match was played and ended in good spirit but we must learn lessons in terms of accepting poor officiating should that happen again as we now have a good chance of progressing beyond the pool stage of the competition.

By Mr H Chambers – Basketball Coach

Sir Thomas Boteler Church of England High School by STB