National Trophy holders Worthing Thunder have made appearances in the
Final into a club tradition, with four visits in the past five seasons.
On Sunday they made that five from six, as they snatched a single-point
victory at London United, to enable them to defend their crown on 6th
March. And that Final really will be a home-from-home for the South
Coast team as their fans travel the few miles along the coast to the
United, currently lying in second place in the League, had high hopes of
reaching their first Final, especially with home advantage in the
semi-final, and they looked to be on course to do so as they opened a
ten point lead during the third quarter. Worthing responded immediately,
however, and going into the final quarter they were ahead by one, 58-59.
The game remained on a knife-edge throughout the final period, and going
into the final 30 seconds, it was the home side that held the slender
advantage, 74-73. Gaylon Moore drew a foul, as United tried desperately
to keep the Thunder offence at bay, and coolly slotted two of two from
the line to put his side back ahead, 74-75. London still had twelve
seconds to save the game, but the Worthing defence held firm and they
went through to face EBL1 leaders City of Sheffield Arrows in the Final.
GOOD KNIGHT FOR NOTTINGHAM
EBL2 leaders Nottingham Knights snatched a place in the Patron's Cup
Final with an overtime victory over near-neighbours WNC Mansfield
Express in a thrilling top-of-the-table semi-final clash on Sunday
With David Passmore doing an excellent job of keeping Mansfield's
prolific American Drew DeMuth away from both the ball and the basket,
Nottingham opened a seven point lead which they held throughout the
first half and well into the third quarter.
They failed to break the game open, however, and an 0-7 run after the
mid-point of the third brought the visitors right back into contention,
at 53-52, and only two points separated the teams, 58-56, going into the
A well-worked inbounds to start the fourth gave Jamie McGaffin an
unopposed lay-up, and an 0-6 start put the Express into the lead by
four. Both sides strove for the advantage, but Mansfield held on, and
with 3:05 to play they had their biggest lead of the game, 67-72. Dwight
Davis reduced the margin, Nottingham held the Mansfield attack to a
24-second violation, and Williamz Omope missed a jump-shot before a
mid-court turn-over left Gary Collins scrambling to retrieve the ball,
and he was called for an Unsportsmanlike Foul.
Omope sank the resulting two from the stripe, but Nottingham failed to
capitalise on the possession, and as both defences held firm the
visitors maintained their single-point advantage. With 17 seconds
remaining Bud Johnston was fouled, and the influential guard stepped to
the line. Hitting his first shot, to tie the scores, and though he
missed the second Nottingham regained the loose ball.
Looking for a match-winning shot, the Knights turned the ball over,
giving the visitors five seconds to snatch victory, but though Drew
DeMuth was fouled time had already expired.
Boosted by escaping from the jaws of defeat, Nottingham hit two "3"s,
from Omope and Tristan Lawson, early in the extra period, and the 78-74
advantage was one they would not relinquish. As the game entered the
final minute, with Mansfield still trailing by four, desperate attempts
to stop the clock led to a series of free-shots for the home side, and
they took the last six points of the game from the line to clinch their
place in the Final on 13th March.
Bud Johnston led the Knights with 28 points, while Drew DeMuth finished
with a game-high 31 for Mansfield.
The other semi-final paired two other teams who have fared well in their
first season in Division 2, lying in third and fourth places, as Kings
Lynn Fury played host to West Herts Warriors.
In a game dominated by the defences, there was nothing to choose between
the teams for the first two quarters, which finished level, 11-all at
the end of the first quarter, and 23-each at the half.
The home side then took control in the third, pulling out an eight-point
lead which was significant in a low-scoring game, and they resisted
their visitors' attempts to closed the gap as they fought out an even
fourth period to take a 60-52 victory and reach their first-ever Final.
John Hodds led the Fury with 15 points, while James Tye led all scorers
The Final, at Manchester's Amaechi Basketball Centre, on 13th March,
forms part of a triple-bill alongside the Women's National Trophy Final,
between Sheffield Hatters II and Nottingham Wildcats II, and the Men's
Shield Final in which newcomers Aston Athletics take on holders Brixton
EB/Pete Jacques (Pawprint)