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Having already won the Northern 2A league title, Lancaster were up against Leeds Carnegie’s second team in the final of the Northern Conference Cup final as they targeted a magnificent double. The two teams had identical league records for the 2011-2012 season with nine wins and one loss apiece.
There was a fantastic turn-out of supporters for the final including members of many different teams, clubs, societies, basketball fans as well as the Lancaster University Basketball regulars.
The game began in a cagey manner with the defences reigning supreme before Carnegie broke the deadlock with a two-pointer. Mike Guille struck back immediately before the two teams traded threes to tie the scores at 5-5.
Carnegie began to dominate the early exchanges and had edged into a 12-5 lead before Lancaster called their first time-out mid-way through the opening quarter.
James Ormond picked up three points almost immediately after play restarted, with a lay-up and the free-throw having drawn the foul. However, the first quarter continued to follow a similar pattern with Carnegie taking a 27-16 lead into the next.
Carnegie flew out of the proverbial blocks at the start of the second quarter as they scored a three and two two-pointers to take a 34-16 lead, leaving Lancaster facing a seemingly impossible task.
Rotimi Keshinro was one of Lancaster’s best players in the second quarter as he helped lead a spirited fight-back and picked up a late score to reduce the deficit to 41-25. However, Carnegie pushed on once more just before half-time and took a 46-29 lead into the break.
Jason Au, who scored twelve points on the night and James Banks of Lancaster seemed intent on changing the flow of the game and took it by the scruff of the neck. Lancaster scored the first seven points of the second half to pull the deficit back to just ten at 46-36. Unfortunately, that comeback was to be short-lived.
Carnegie pulled away once more with seven unanswered points of their own, before a scrappy period of play emerged and before Lancaster scored again, Carnegie had widened the gap to 59-36 as they pounced on each and every mistake the Lancaster team made.
The mistakes increased as Lancaster pushed harder and began to force the play. Lancaster had no choice other than to go all out and that was what ultimately allowed Carnegie and their clinical finishing to generate a seemingly unassailable lead.
The transition game suited Carnegie, and that was exactly what the game had become. Banks reduced Carnegie’s lead as he slammed in a three-pointer and Leonardo Hu, who picked up ten points on the night picked up another two as Lancaster never let their heads drop. Nonetheless, Carnegie were still to take a 19 point lead into the final quarter as they led 60-41.
With the result almost beyond doubt, Carnegie scored from a showboat play, as their player played a blind reverse pass through the tightest of gaps before his team-mate nonchalantly laid the ball in for two more points.
However, Lancaster were to come up with their own piece of brilliance, as Ignas Vycas picked up a rebound, and within half a second of having retrieved the ball and released the ball, demonstrating fantastic vision to launch a counter-attack as finished by Dimitris Karakasis.
Carnegie won 77-55 in what was a fair reflection of the game overall. Lancaster were perhaps unlucky not to win a single quarter, yet can be pleased with their spirited performance in the second half. A fantastic season including a league win and the Silver medal in the cup must put the team in serious contention to be the University’s sports team of the year.
Club President Ignas Vycas had this to say to SCAN Sports: “It was no doubt the hardest match this season, we did our best but we have to admit they were stronger today. Anyway, we are happy we made it to the cup finals, it’s still a great result!”