Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Basketball: Tunstall Leave It Late; Post-Christmas Form Secures Year 11 Title GRASSROOTS SPORT

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Basketball: Tunstall Leave It Late; Post-Christmas Form Secures Year 11 Title GRASSROOTS SPORT

Article excerpt

Byline: By JAMES THOMSON

THE Tees Schools League completed its first very successful season with a late surge from High Tunstall of Hartlepool to secure the Year 11 league title.

High Tunstall had not played any games before Christmas but a good 41-32 victory over the traditionally strong Northfield School set them off on the right track.

The next win over league leaders Norton Knights by four points, 33-29, provided the Hartlepool School with the best possible start.

A 31-23 win over Grangefield School and two default wins earned High Tunstall the league title, two points ahead of Norton Knights.

Norton claimed some revenge two weeks ago as they beat the league winners 31-30 in the County Cup Final.

St Michaels didn't enjoy the best of seasons, as they failed to complete any games and finished bottom of the league.

Norton could and should have been Year 10 Champions but a bold decision to forfeit the remaining two games by head coach Mark Rhodes, due to pupil behaviour and lack of commitment, enabled Blakeston Bulls - one point ahead on 17 league points for the season - to pip them to the honour, even though they had played one less game and suffered one more defeat.

Both teams had won five games and Norton had lost only once when Bulls had tasted defeat twice.

Norton would have gained two additional points just for playing the last two games.

Mr Rhodes had met with the department heads and collectively decided that an important message must be delivered to those representing the school that pupils must be on their best behaviour and fully committed to the team.

The fortunes of Blakeston have been helped by the coming of age of Liam McBride, who has enjoyed a tremendous season, culminating in a league and cup double.

Bulls head coach Mike Garthwaite has developed a basketball power school at Blakeston, and with three teams in the County Cup Finals and finishing second in Year Seven and Eight and first in Year Nine and Ten, the school can be more than proud of their achievements this season.

Guisborough Giants, of Laurence Jackson School failed to play any games in the Year 10 league, finishing bottom of the 10 teams.

Redcar Mariners fared only slightly better in ninth place with two losses from two games played, but the potential is there, especially considering they only lost by two points to Norton, 41-43.

With rising star David Budd, if they can fulfil their full fixture list next season, they will be competing for the title.

Year Nine has been dominated by the unbeaten form of Blakeston Bulls, who went seven games without defeat to clinch the title.

Damian McKenzie has been the player of the season for Bulls, collecting the MVP award six times from seven games with talented guard, Matthew Garbutt collecting in the other game. …

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