During a blustery, blizzard-y evening, King’s College London made the treacherous trek through the snow to play against Team Newcastle in the first round of the BUCS Championship Playoffs.
Though the Newcastle Sports Centre was protected from the Beast of the East, nothing could protect King’s College from a big defeat up North.
The Newcastle Knights scored from all angles and made quick work of the visiting team, claiming an 85-40 victory to advance to the Championship Quaterfinals next Wednesday.
During one of the biggest snowstorms in years, Team Newcastle had to improvise as schools across the city were closing down in preparation of the winter onslaught. The Knights had two options of venues for their playoff game – the Royal Grammar School and Newcastle College – and both closed their doors early on Wednesday. Desperate to play their game Team Newcastle and King’s College agreed to play at “The Blue Dungeon,” also known as the Newcastle Sports Hall, in what was the only BUCS basketball feature that was not cancelled in all of North East England. Once the players took off their mittens and traded their winter boots for basketball boots, the players were ready to face off for a chance at a spot in the next round.
The Newcastle Knights scored from all angles and made quick work of the visiting team
From the starting tip to the final buzzer, Team Newcastle showcased excellent ball movement and unselfish play to easily defeat their opponent. Because King’s College was particularly undersized, the taller Newcastle guards were able to flash to the basket with ease and finish easy layups around the basket. Newcastle post player Grace Elliott continued her consistent play in the lane and hit Newcastle cutters left and right all evening. Elliott also had many efficient drives to the basket, strong moves through contact and a few jump shots to lead the way for the Knights. Though every player on the Knights’ squad had a solid outing on 28 February, Elliott’s efforts earned her Player of the Game Honours.
Aside from their ball movement, Team Newcastle used this game to improve their fitness and push the ball on the fast break. Any time the Knights pulled down a defensive rebound, they took advantage of their conditioning and pushed the ball down the court as quickly as possible. Point guard Courtney Strait did a good job keeping pace of the game. She had a number of assists by pushing the tempo and dropping off bounce passes to her teammates for easy layups on the fast break. Cassidy Sanders-Curry and Eleanor Goodwin did an outstanding job running the floor against King’s College. The duo was all over the court during the game and found themselves at the receiving end of Strait’s passes for many easy buckets.
Elliott's efforts earned her Player of the Game Honours
Defensively, Team Newcastle was able to utilise their size to their advantage. Switching between a man-to-man and their signature match-up zone defences, the Knights made it very difficult for King’s College players to get an easy look at the basket. The visitors had to work hard to earn their points – they had to manoeuvre their way through the long reach of Newcastle’s guards, as well as the strong defensive presence of Elliott and Goodwin in the lane. In fact Elliott was at least a foot taller than the majority of the key guards for King’s College. So as one may imagine, their route to the basket was not an easy one, and this was apparent in the final score.
Looking ahead, the Knights are the ones that have to travel for the BUCS Quarterfinal game. Finishing in third place in the Northern division, Team Newcastle has to travel to London to take on London South Bank, who finished in second in the South division.
Though one of the Knights suffered an unfortunate ankle injury in the game against King’s College they are still confident they can defeat the second-seeded South Bank and advance to the BUCS Championship Semifinal for the first time in school history.
As long as the snow doesn’t keep the Knights from travelling next week, Team Newcastle plans to bring their own storm to London on 7 March.