What could have been...
We didn’t know how this season was going to progress.
Several of the established players had transitioned to the newly-formed National League team. While new faces were integrating themselves into the side as a result of fledgling club initiatives like The Open Run and the Get Back Into Basketball sessions, and leading the way through the local leagues would be a couple of familiar names.
Last season had seen us return to the Cambridge league after a brief absence while two teams were condensed into one for our foray in the Suffolk league. Outcomes were mixed. Victories were hard to come by in the Cambridge league but this was juxtaposed with a playoff appearance in the Suffolk league.
History and ambition was ready to be combined to take on the impending challenges.
Veteran players Glenn Collins & David Wise volunteered to coach and captain the side. The existing roster was joined by the powerful presence of Ernest Isokpehi and the unique skills of Sonjay Williams. This was complimented with the return of the former junior NBL player Sedick “Junior” Trye. The relaxed but focused training sessions suited the personality of the team which SPOILER WARNING, would bring positive results. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s return to the beginning.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Suffolk league campaign started with a home victory over MERU II followed by an away win over the Felixstowe Thunder. The Cambridge league began with a home win over the Mildenhall Pirates but was followed by a narrow away loss to probably the best team in the division, the Cambridge Cats. Despite the setback, the team felt that they could do better.
What followed came about as a result of a hardworking team ethic.
After the loss to the Cats came 10 straight wins in the Cambridge league. The highlights of which included a superb comeback victory against the Huntingdon Hawks II and a well thought out tactical win over the aforementioned table topping Cambridge Cats. The only blemish in the Suffolk league came away at fellow title contenders Big Dog Ballin.
Winning then became a habit with the remaining games resulting in 8 consecutive victories. When the season was brought to a premature end, we were sitting top of the Suffolk league and second in the Cambridge league with one regular game to go in each. The odds were that we would have won the Suffolk league and done well in the subsequent playoffs. We also reached the semi-final of the Suffolk senior cup beating division 1 Ipswich Saxons away in a hard fought quarter-final.
Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year: Bulldogs on three! This can be epitomised by Sonjay consistently shooting the lights out. And if on the rare occasion this didn’t happen, he would run circles round the opposition dribbling to the basket.
Defensive Player of the Year: In a galaxy far, far away is where the ball would end up when Ernest would swat it out of harm’s way. If ever a shot needed to be blocked and then have defence turned into attack, this is who could do it. On and off the court, he deserves a round of applause.
Most Improved Player: Here is the past, present and future of this team all rolled into one. Junior returned to the club by taking part in the Get Back Into Basketball sessions and progressed through the season into the team. He was always looking for the ball and his affecting pace was the scourge of opposition defences.
Coach’s Player of the Year: Is this the Swiss army knife of the team because this young man can do everything. The one thing you could guarantee is that you would hear Jason motivating all the players from the start of the first quarter to the end of the fourth. And you could also rely on him to be one of the two highest scorers in every game.
The lack of expected silverware cannot detract from how good this team was and how much confidence has been developed in anticipation of what is to come.
A dependable roster including the ever-green Jay Trye meshed well with the addition of the likes of the dynamic Luca Beale and helped generate so much potential for the future.
A standout game from the season came in the home fixture against the Braintree Blue Devils. All ten players in the match day squad scored a basket and the team accumulated 105 points for the win.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the team including Hayley Rigby for working on the score table and Gina Hickey for documenting our success. Let’s do it all again next season but go one or two stages further.