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St. Bede's are South Tyneside Hoops4Health Basketball Champions 2016

Friday 5th February 2016
Sport Central - Newcastle 

On Friday evening, it was wonderful to watch the South Stand of Sport Central steadily filling up with smiling St. Bede’s families and friends. By Tip Off time, we had over two hundred from the school in attendance, ready to cheer on our basketball team. The players were really excited to play in front of so much warm hearted support, and were duly ready to play their finest basketball.

In the first Hoops4Health semi-final East Boldon edged past St. Aloysius with a solitary basket in the final seconds of a tight game. Then the waiting was over, as we took to the court for the second semi-final against Hadrian. We immediately started on the front foot, as we passed the ball around confidently. Josh Camm showed great vision to find Joseph Wood who quickly travelled into the space, before unleashing a perfectly flighted shot to drop straight into the basket. This was met by a fantastic roar from the St. Bede’s support in the South Stand corner!

Hadrian came back with a few breakaway attacks, but they were comfortably defended, by the alert Grace Knowles. Gradually, the game began to be played exclusively in the Hadrian half, as we began to bombard their basket. The second score came when Megan Tooley reacted first to a rebound, to skilfully place a shot off the backboard and into the basket!

To their credit, Hadrian tried to respond and managed to mount some good attacks, which we defended well as a team. However, we continued to look threatening on the attack and were unfortunate to not add to our 4-0 win. The scenes were great at the final buzzer, as the players congratulated each other, before receiving a wonderful, uplifting ovation when they returned to the St. Bede’s seating area.

The final took place at half-time in the Eagles game, in a front of a near capacity, 3000 at Sport Central. The St. Bede’s players were delighted to be in the final, but were very determined to claim the overall tournament victory. This was evident in the first seconds of the final, as Josh sharply latched on to a loose ball and hit a shot that came back agonisingly off the rim of the basket. This positive, attacking intent was a sign of things to come in the final, as we took the game to East Boldon.

Josh soon made a trademark burst down the left wing before passing to Jake who shot on the run, only to see his effort narrowly bounce clear. Megan then went close, followed by Joseph and Josh as the East Boldon basket was besieged. The crucial first breakthrough came when Captain Jake Waters made an interception on the half-way line. He athletically spun away from a challenge then glided past another defender, before releasing a stunning jump shot (from 3 point range) to score directly into the basket. This was a true moment of individual brilliance!

The confidence was now flowing through the team, the passing was becoming more fluent, while our movement was too quick for the opposition. Within moments, we doubled our lead, as Jake majestically carried the ball out of defence before passing to Josh whose pinpoint centre found Joseph, who finished superbly at the second attempt! The loud cheers from the St. Bede’s support could be heard clearly from the court, while the best was still to come. The players then constructed a sensational team goal that started from underneath our own basket. Jake passed to Megan, who brilliantly spun to pass to Josh. Josh proceeded to accelerate past a defender with his silky dribbling skills before crossing to Joseph to finish expertly, for an outstanding team basket! This score had the whole of Sport Central clapping with appreciation.

Nick and Francesca came on and they both defended resolutely, as East Boldon tried to register a basket. However, our defence could not be breached, as we continued our fantastic record of not conceding a single basket in our 12 Hoops4health games this season. At the other end, we continued to look as if we could stretch our lead. Josh again went close to scoring the basket his performance had richly deserved.

On the final hooter, it finished 6-0 to St. Bede’s, with joyous scenes of celebration on and off the court. The players showed great respect, even amongst their excitement, to shake hands with all of the East Boldon players, who had themselves played their part in a great final.

However, it was St. Bede’s moment, and it was fantastic to see Captain Jake Waters lift the South Tyneside Hoops4Health trophy, to huge cheers around Sport Central. On a night where we had unprecedented support, we also had a special team performance. Well played to the talented and dedicated players: Megan Tooley (Vice-Captain), Grace Knowles, Francesca Williams, Nick Campbell, Joseph Wood, Josh Camm and Jake Waters (Captain), who had all trained with such commitment in the build up to the finals. Finally, a massive thank you to the outstanding St. Bede’s school community, for your inspirational support on a memorable sporting occasion for our school.

I’m sure there will have been some younger St. Bede’s children in the crowd, who will be proudly wearing the new school basketball kits in the future. Who knows, we might be back once again next year?

St. Bede’s South Shields, loud and proud!

Sporting Regards, B. McVittie