Game reports have been sparse lately as inconveniences like jobs & families have demanded everyone’s time, so we’ll start with a quick recap. Honeybadgers have shared the top win loss record in the league from early on with Pleasance 47s, Soldier Bears and Peregrines. Pleasance Pace have sat atop the table for the majority of the season although it was pointed out that the fixtures meant they had played substantially more games than some of the others around them. Regardless, they’d beaten what was put in front of them, and were there by merit. Our boys from Leith, having only lost twice this season beat the Peregrines in their first meeting to propel us to the top of the standings IF we could knock Pace off first. Wasn’t to be however, as the young aggressive Pace team came out at full speed, ouththinking and outfighting the Honeybadgers, leading to our 3rd loss of the season. This brought Peregrines and 47s back into contention, with Soldier Bears suffering an uncharacteristic setback. Panthers however stepped up and took points of the 47s in a gritty win where both teams played their socks off, and soldier bears pulled them further back with a nail biting 51-49 victory. Leith meanwhile saw victory against the feisty and perpetually improving Buccs and Fife’s finest to leave them atop the table again alongside the Peregrines. Both teams then on Friday night had recorded only 3 losses apiece, with 3 games remaining. The scene was set for a showdown……
The game started as expected, both teams positively growling on defence and quality looks hard to come by. Leith struggled to score, leaving the dust undisturbed on one side of the scorers console for the first 4 minutes. Peregrines were likewise stifled, but found their way to a few points via the stripe and some grit. Small tactical change, swapping quality muscle in the form of G for the limping decoy that is coach, and the resultant ball movement found Prez in his favoured spot, where he duly smashed the lid off the basket. Force field destroyed, the badgers then remembered what to do, Abi, coach and Fraz all chipping in with Mike to put together a 10-2 run and force Peregrines to burn an early time out.
2nd quarter saw the meanest D of the game, with players on both sides having to make difficult looks just to get the scoreboard moving. This quarter ended 8-8, with all the Peregrines points coming from their number 6. Bonus on our end however was Banky warming up, claiming both boards and points as Leith stuck to the plan, sharing the ball and the load, and therefore making the Peregerines work hard on D right accross the court. With the D as ferocious as it was, this is a good point to tip our hats to the officials, who were superb in their calls, and constantly talking and explaining in what must have been a tough nights work.
HT: Honeybadgers 18 Peregrines 14
3rd quarter saw a different approach from the peregrines as they looked for a way around the D. They found an opening as their number 9 slashed repeatedly to the basket, scoring with layups and free throws. Taking up the challenge, Leith unleashed their own one man offence, with Abi outscoring him 7 – 5. Honeybadgers had made a clear commitment to good quality offence, moving the ball, limiting turnovers and finding good shots. On this occasion however, the 3 ball – which this season has become our favourite flavour of misbehaviour – deserted us, with Abi dropping the only long bomb of the game in this quarter, thanks to a kind high bounce. The team listened well however, and didn’t get frustrated, or stray from the plan. Scott was particularly disciplined, threatening the D from deep, keeping the floor spread for his teammates to get work done, and finding them with some nice feeds. Thanks to the peregrines hitting an almost identical high bouncing three however, they took the quarter 13 points to 9.
Final quarter started with a scoreline of 27-27, and the peregrines shot into an early lead with their #6 hitting a close shot and 3 free throws in quick succession, fouling out the hustle machine that is Fraz in the process. Banky this time stepped up, matching the aggressive inside play and keeping us close with 2 free throws, although down on the scoreboard. A couple more tactical changes shut down the inside threat before Scott added two more as the honeybadger defence hit top gear to pull us to within one. With only a couple of minutes left on the clock, and the season effectively on the line, Prez decided he’d had enough, and in true honeybadger style, went out and took what he wanted. 7 points in the last 3 minutes was enough to push us past the Peregrines, culminating in a Holywood style last minute putback with 10 seconds remaining. Honeybadgers ahead by 2 with 10 seconds to go, both benches held their collective breath as they waited to see if the Peregrines would force overtime or gamble on a three for all the marbles. With their slasher on the ball and their shooter being set up for the three, the ball crossed the halfway line on 7 seconds remaining. Abi who was right on the ball handlers toes, let him cross the halfcourt, effectively trapping him and then, calling on all his experience, anticipated the spin move, executed a little lateral shuffle and appeared exactly where he wasn’t expected to strip the ball clean from his confused opposite number. To the roars of his teammates, all that was left was to run the ball into the safety of the opposition half for an epic finish.
2 games now remain for the team, and what a pair to finish. Two “derbies” stand between Leith and a first title – first up the powerful Masters team who we’ve traded games with since we first entered the league – and who have accounted for one of our losses this season. Then finally our regular training partners the Madness, who’ll be looking forward to ending their season on a high against their rivals.
All to play for kids!