Friday 2nd of May, The Leith Honey Badgers produced a gutsy team performance to defeat The Edinburgh Soldier Bears 40-27 at Westwoods. Leading into the match, The Badgers heard the rumours Soldier Bears possessed the physicality, technical ability and spirit of Worcek running through their blood so this was a battle of the beasts as we looked to be Honey Badger incarnate.
From the tip it was clear The Soldier Bears were a code red threat as their physical players sought to immobilise The Badgers whilst militantly working the ball to find their mowhawked leader open from outside. However the Badgers remained quick on their feet, getting out to the big fella in the Camo Foams before the opportunity for 3 arose.
The speedy and decisive play carried into the offensive end with the Badgers varying between well worked ball movement to find Big Fraz in the paint and explosive breaks from El Prez Mike. Between them they scored the badgers 10 to Bears 9 but it was the gritty defence that set the rumbling tones of this powerful performance.
Mike and Fraz carried on their scoring to notch the Badgers first 6 of the second. However it was the ability to withstand opposition attacks that led the Badgers to take the quarter by 1. Andy conducting, he orchestrated Piotr, Scott, Dom and Farooq to take turns covering the floor so the bigs could settle in, box out and take down the rare shots that breached the defence. Make no mistake, this was not an easy shift for the others, but from the guards persistent intensity, the big men just focused on the physical battle of handling their opposite number and ripping down the rock. This caused The Bears frustration, as Strong drives from Andy and Dom were met with hard fouls and swished buckets from the line.
The 3rd quarter had The Badgers confidently stopping the opposition, limiting them to 7 as the games tempo went up a notch. It may be the West in Westwoods, as Scott was certainly at home finishing a nice left hand lay up before swishing a 3 from downtown- somebody get this man a buckfast! A fired up Sanchez got in on the act too, closing the quarter with a signature 3 before an altercation led to The Soldier Bears having 2 from the line with no time on the clock. Regardless, The Badgers lined up and screamed a silent war cry as the soldier on the line missed his attempts and the quarter ended 14-7 to Leith. ‘There’s no such thing as a free, free throw’.
Going into the 4th it was 36-27 to The Honey Badgers to which it remained for the first 4 minutes. Leith continued to deny the Bears despite their fantastic intensity and determination. Every loose ball was chased and a body always in front of a man. With a quick spin and floater, Dom put the game out of sight extending the Badgers lead to 11 before Big G notched up the final points of the night. Up 13 The Badgers retained their intensity to deny any opposition baskets and finish the match 40-27.
Respect to The SoldierBears for they are obviously a strong team, however Friday was perhaps one of our most convincing team performance of the season. Missing a couple of regulars what became apparent is that this team is not dependent on individuals but depends on one another. Through tireless, selfless play and a composed yet hard nosed execution the Honey Badgers worked together for a big win. There were some very nice baskets in there but this came from defence, a support for one another and a personal pride not to be beaten by your opposite number. The true heroics may not be easily identified on the score sheet as it was about shutting down 100%, trusting our teammates and never giving up. Lets remember this as we take on The 47s in a fortnight.
Q1: Leith 10 – 9 Soldier Bears
Q2: Leith 12 – 11 Soldier Bears
Q3: Leith 14 – 7 Soldier Bears
Q4: Leith 4 – 0 Soldier Bears
Final Score: Leith 40 – 27 Soldier Bears
Scorers: Mike 15, Fraz 8, Scott 5, Dom 5, Jonathon 3, Andy 2, Graham 2