Leith had been working hard recently after the worst run in the clubs short history and two good recent performances have helped feed the faint embers of belief. Training has been competitive and selection is becoming a headache that some coaches would love to have. Wolves have been having a similarly patchy spell so the stage was set for a test of preparation and determination.
The first quarter felt tight with little between the teams so it was a pleasant surprise that Leith found themselves ahead. Wolves 4 – 7 Honeybadgers.
Improvements all round were there to see – fewer turnovers and less decision making in the margins was evident meaning the Badgers earned the right to compete on an even playing field. This removed from the equation meant that a contest of attacking and defending would decide the game. Leith showed its teeth with an array of offensive options, cutting, driving, posting and shooting in response to the defence in front of them. Better outside shooting this week saw 9 points from downtown but the majority of the offensive work came from intelligent penetration when the D offered it and fast break execution, particularly from Deatch & El Prez. With Chris, G and Fraz constantly menacing every rebound the rest of the team had confidence to put up the good shots when they presented themselves. J showed his honeybadger blood digging deep to put in great hustle despite full on manflu, and Ian came on to equal his career high points tally, breaking out the jets after a beautiful turnover feed from Cobra. Snake hands wasn’t done there though, despite being run ragged on D he threaded the needle, reversing a bounce pass through the entire defence for a highlight layup conversion Steph Curry would be proud of.
The game wasn’t going to be won on highlights though, as a contender for play of the season from Deatch looked beautiful as he ran the floor and flipped the no look over the shoulder pass, but against all odds the follow from Fraz defied physics to rim out. A missed dunk attempt from El Prez (plenty of air but coming back off the back of the rim) followed keeping his tally to 18 for the night but thankfully we weren’t relying on the highlights as the basics were being executed well. Vast improvements in defence and rebounding coupled with slowly re-emerging offence worked together to push the Badgers to a 45 – 20 final score.
In truth the Wolves never felt out of the game and the final score is more a reflection of Leith consistently doing things well than a gulf between the teams. Week off next Friday, then the fast & aggressive madness team but two hard weeks training before that. Baby steps on the journey back badgers but plenty of marching ahead.