Basketball: Final is perfect for Pirates but Amazons can’t complete double

Bognor Pirates line up for the Sussex Plate final
Bognor Pirates line up for the Sussex Plate final

Bognor Pirates and Bognor Amazons have both been involved in Sussex basketball finals - but only one of the two was victorious.

Bognor Pirates 54 East Grinstead Flyers 49

Sussex Plate final

After an very close and exciting home Sussex Plate semi-final in which Pirates beat Worthing D&D 67-55, Pirates beat East Grinstead in the final at Brighton - in an even closer game.

Both teams traded baskets pretty evenly in the first period with Matt Sharp and Max Smith both securing two three-pointers with Pirates playing a two-three zone defence. The period finished with the Pirates 15-14 up.

The biggest threat was Flyers’ Kusu Orkar so in the second period Pirates changed their defence to man on man with James Bennett and Alex DeHaan doing a good job closing him down. Both teams were evenly matched with Pirates taking eight points in the quarter and Flyers just eight.

Starting the second half with just a two-point lead, Pirates reverted to their zone defence - but despite James Parker and Max Smith securing two further three-pointers, East Grinstead caught up and at the end of the period the game was tied at 41-41.

Pirates found their intensity again at the start of the period and came out to make six straight points without reply. Then Flyers scored seven straight points without reply from the Pirates.

It couldn’t have been any closer but Flyers fouled Pirates every time they went to the basket, giving away several free throws. Pirates were able to convert enough of these to edge ahead with a 13-8 last-period score.

That meant Pirates took the Sussex Plate to finish their season in some style.

MVP was Pirates’ Rob Stapely for his short corner baskets, taking two hard charges and fighting all over the floor for every loose ball.

Pirates thank all their supporters and sponsors for backing them in 2012-13 and look forward to next season.

PIRATES SCORERS: M Smith 14, R Lowe 14, R Stapely 10, Matt Sharp 5, Marcus Morling 3, James Bennett 2, Alex DeHaan 2, Matt Wakeling 1, D Smith.

Bognor Amazons 51 Brighton Cougars 57

Sussex Cup final

After being crowned winners of the Sussex League, Bognor Amazons narrowly failed to complete a double when they travelled to Falmer to face Brighton Cougars for the Sussex Cup for the second year running.

Cougars turned up with just seven players, giving Amazons confidence they would be able to tire them out.

The game started with Cougars committing to a full-court press which put pressure on the Amazon guards.

Baskets were being evenly traded as both teams pushed to make an early impression. Amazons landed themselves on team fouls which allowed Cougars four easy points to finish the first quarter 20-16 up.

A useful team talk allowed Amazons to work out their press break and they started the second quarter taking advantage of Cougars’ three-man press on the point-guard.

They made a change in their defence to prevent Cougars’ two National League players, Dawson and Szabo, from dominating inside the key. Aided by steady scoring from Amazons’ Vitanyi and Wilson, Amazons reached the halfway point 34-28 up.

The start of the second half was even. As Cougars’ Szabo was getting close to being fouled off, she was benched for most of the third quarter which gave Amazons a chance to shut down the rest of their players on defence.

Amazons kept hold of the lead and were 47-42 up with one quarter left.

Despite Amazons’ hopes that Cougars would start to tire with such a small bench, it was they who seemed to burn out.

In the final three minutes, Cougars overtook Amazons for the first time and with Cougars’ Dawson scoring ten unanswered points, Amazons were unable to find the strength to fight back for the lead in the final stretch.

AMAZONS: Wilson 17, Vitanyi 13, Smith 11, Lowe, 8, Thorne 2, Stapely, Phillips, Richie, Lawie, Camburn.

Amazons were presented with the league winners’ trophies along with their cup runners-up medals. Now they will have a well-earned break over the summer, returning to training in September to prepare to defend their title in the Sussex League.