Friday the 16th November 2012 and the Leith Honey Badgers took to the court for their 7th game together in the clubs debut season. Boosted by the return of centre Frazer Gibson (Fraz), the full pack of Badgers were in Westwood’s to take on the Pleasance Pace.
With a stronger record than their opponents, the Badgers perhaps entered the mach as favourites. However a teams debut season can be a staggered and lengthy process of transition as the collection of individuals become a team; indeed the great Scottie Pippen put it well when he said,
‘sometimes a players greatest challenge is coming to grips with his role on the team’.
However trust among this unit is high and each week has has seen the Badgers raise their performance as they continue to work together to great effect. So on the back of a big win a fortnight ago and with a collective love of the game, when the ref threw it up for tip off it was the Badgers who set the Pace and the opposition didn’t find it pleasant.
From the off Fraz worked to get open for passes as the other big’s dragged away the defenders allowing him to to receive the rock and do his thing. Two well worked early baskets and 5 more points from Fraz later in the first put the smiles on the Badgers faces, knowing the big man was back, large and in charge. Doug and Minda dropped in a couple and Mike put away 6 pts in the opening quarter too as it ended 18-4 to the Badgers, a huge 14 point lead after only 8 minutes played.
The Pleasance were riled and from the second quarter onwards tried to get under the skin of the Badgers with persistent niggly and physical play. Yet under the black and white of a badger is an incredibly tough leather and this resilience showed as the Badgers continued to play the game how they wanted. It was the second quarter where the runway seemed to clear and Air Lithuania (Minda) began another journey into 20 point land with some sweet fast breaks buckets and a couple of jumpers. Yes, the Pace took the quarter by 1 but the deficit was still a lofty 13 as the half time whistle blew.
The third was another big points haul for the Badgers and also saw a stronger defence than they had displayed in the second quarter. Combinations of Mark, Fraz, Graham and Doug formed a formidable back court who outmatched the Pleasance big men. The physicality spilled out into the guards too as the Cobra got dragged into battle with his opposite number. The 5 foot assasin with the roughneck business put a muzzle on it though, taking a tough foul and swishing the free throws effortlessly. This Janitor may now be above cleaning duties but the swagger in his step showed this wasn’t the first time he took out the trash.
It was all said and done as the final quarter began but with one eye on the score board the Badgers aimed to break 60 as the collective conscience rang ‘enjoy and destroy’. And when it’s on.. it’s on, like a gun with no safety POP POP POP as the Badgers hit 17 and took their total to 62, setting the leagues highest score at this stage in the season.
There were some big scorers in the win but it was about more than individuals. The Leith Honey Badgers awareness, movement and willingness to work for one another is now there and will continue to grow. It may be C-Nic following the lay up to collect a board or the Hulk selflessly taking the extra player away for an one on one, these are the things that are becoming second nature under the leadership of Player/Coach Mark Holden. With his birthday this coming Friday, he can be certain his players will give him another gutsy performance.
1st Quarter: Pleasance Pace 4 – 18 Leith Honey Badgers
2nd Quarter: Pleasance Pace 13 – 12 Leith Honey Badgers
3rd Quarter: Pleasance Pace 8 – 15 Leith Honey Badgers
4th Quarter: Pleasance Pace 8 – 17 Leith Honey Badgers
Final Score: Pleasance Pace 33 – 62 Leith Honey Badgers
Minda 23 points
Mike 17 points
Fraz 8 points
Doug 5 points
Graham 4 points
Mark 3 points
Andy 2 points