Claymore cup- day 1.

Half of the squad rolled into Gairloch at around 7.30 on Friday night and promptly began their athletic preparations. Deatch proved the coach wrong with some pretty sweet BBQ skills before the stragglers rocked up at around 11.30. Preparations continued, making sure we were all hydrated in the knowledge that a hard days balling awaited us. There was even time for a cultural exchange visit to meet some locals and learn about their pool skills and their beer. We all tried the local delicacy “hector”. Much if it remained unconsumed. A bit like Guinness watered down, filtered through some peat & mixed with ribena. An acquired taste perhaps.
Andy & Mike got the winning underway on the baize, Farooq had his ear flicked and won the poker school sweeping an enormous pot of around £2.50. As it doesn’t appear to get dark up here we – in one sense – got to bed at a sensible time of day (…?). The residents of the crunkhouse(tm) were the focus of much envy as polly the caravan (henceforth to be referred to as the shan-a-van) was a little neater than perhaps expected. There would, one would have to assume having inspected the sleeping quarters, have been some spooning. We didn’t ask. We don’t judge. Cobra, so adept at steals on court turned his skills to bed-nabbing, ousting the old man from his bunk, and then rather rudely refusing to share when the structural capabilities of the wee bunk ladder looked like the coach might test them beyond their limits. Regardless- we slept the sleep of the righteous and woke the next morning to beautiful views, and the sound of birdsong and someone in a bottom bunk apparently trying to start a petrol lawnmower. Hearty breakfast and onto battle.
First up were Inverness City. A well balanced team, fast and eager, this was a battle that swung back and forth. The honeybadgers could be kindly described as ‘clunky’ with low conversion rates and some pretty tired looking play. City were quick and proficient, and the lead changed hands a few times. A coherent third quarter saw the Badgers eek out a lead and assert some dominance but Inverness exploded in the final couple of minutes, blowing away the honeybadgers 5 point advantage to take the game by 3 points. After some lunch, some light napping and some refocusing badgers faced off against Elgin Eagles. Having seen these guys in the morning, we knew we were in for a game- they’re fast, they’ve got handles and there are genuine shooting threats all over the court. What they didn’t have however was genuine size, and the Badgers looked to take advantage of this. The rebounding at both ends was dominant with some outstanding work from Pete & Banky. Holden &
Kerracher were able to bully the opposition on offence and good team D led to a 10 point advantage at the end of the first quarter. Early in the second El Prez finished a raking baseline drive with a reverse but came down at speed on an opponents foot turning his ankle over. He was deposited to the bench to assess and the team moved on. Without Mikes offence, Deatch & Pete kept the scoreboard moving and Cobra stepped up, charging through the entire D on a number of occasions with purpose, earning free throws and finishing layups. With the lead building slowly but Eagles continuing to look dangerous & grow into the game, Kerracher chose to test out his damaged foot. On play one he tore down a rebound, took his defender away from the basket and executed a highlight reel move, reversing his dribble between the legs, spinning and dropping his defender before finishing strong. Leg fixed. Floodgates open. There followed an onslaught from #8 as Elgin tried various defensive options but were completely unable to stand up to the one way traffic as post move after move dropped. With the defence scrambling spaces appeared and the team started clicking, exploiting them with more familiar badger type passing. Banky & Deatch picked some great passes and finished strong, with the full team contributing defensively. A good win for the Leithers, giving us a chance of making a final showdown tomorrow, although Gairloch stand in the way and will have something to say about it. Off to bed now ready for early tip tomorrow.

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