Playoff Final
09/06/2017, 8:20 pm
Harlow Hawks 1
72 - 77
Bower Park Bucks
1st 2nd 3rd 4th T
Harlow Hawks 12 19 17 24 72
Bower Park Bucks 12 20 19 26 77
Harlow Leisurezone
Men's 1
Referee: A.Osunsami, K.Symmonds

Match Report

Friday night and the crowds gathered at Harlow Leisure zone for the Essex mens plate final between Bower Park Bucks and the hosts Harlow Hawks. Finishing at the bottom of the league, the Hawks surprised even themselves after overcoming a 23point first quarter deficit, in their semi final match up at Brentwood Mavericks to earn a spot in the final. After some administrative juggling and lack of court availability from the Bucks,  Hawks wound up with home court advantage!


The two previous meetings the teams had both saw Bucks take a win, however Harlow had been in many finals before with silverware on the line and were ready for the challenge.


As the crowds took their seats the teams tipped off to start the game. Hawks won the tip and scored straight of the bat with a quick layup from R.Norkeliunas. Bower Park started slow conceding 7 quick point before finding the bottom in the net themselves. The game found its rhythm, and the teams went tit for tat trading points for the remainder of the opening quarter finishing with twelve points each. The Bucks shallow bench seemed to damper their usual energetic style of play leaving Hawks feeling confident in their chances of victory.


The second quarter saw the Hawks getting the rest of the team involved as Coach Shab made regular rotations on court. Points from the big man T.White, and Hawks’ veterans R.Allen and S.Friedner matched the Bucks scoring in the opening 3 minutes. A slight lapse in concentration at the defensive end and Hawks gave up 6 consecutive points. R.Norkeliunas split a pair of free-throws and a dagger from beyond the 3 point arc from S.Niaz tied the scores back up at 24. Keeping the Hawks on the back foot, Bucks penetrated the defense finding easy points under the basket of the home side. Great ball movement led to a superb catch-and-shoot 3 pointer from L.Morris, followed immediately by two fast break points as S.Niaz assists Morris giving Hawks the lead late in the first half. A last second free-throw from the visitors was the only difference in scores as the teams headed to the bench for half time. Bucks 32, Hawks 31


The start of the third quarter mimicked the 2 previous as both teams exchanged buckets. Bucks found themselves at the free-throw line 4 times this quarter, but fortunately for the Hawks they only converted 3 from 8. S.Niaz honed in from 3 point land mocking down two big shots the keep Hawks on the game. Together with R.Allen’s six points and other scores from L.Morris, R.Whytock and a single free-throw from R.Norkeliunas left Hawks training by 3 at the close of the third. Bucks 51, Hawks 48


With a final 10 minutes of play to decide the winner, the ball was inbounded to commence the firth quarter. T.White started dominant for the home side with back to back layups, making it a 1 point deficit. An increase defensive pressure from Bucks paid off as Hawks turned the ball over a number of times without so much as an attempt in target. Capitalising on the home teams mistakes the Bucks poured in 8 unanswered points to push their lead to almost double digits. Baskets from S.Burgess and player coach S.Niaz capped the run before Bucks guards found their range from deep each hitting open 3 pointers to reach that dreaded double digit lead. After missing a pair of free-throws, R.Whytock began a run of his own with two strong drives to the basket, both successful, followed by a fourth outside shot from Niaz to reduce the difference to a mere three points. With just over a minute on the clock the remainder of the game was played at the charity strip with both teams combining for 14 free-throws. Poor shooting all round meant Hawks just couldn’t close the gap, as they hit 3 of 8 compared to Bucks 2 of 6. Fighting to the very last second the Hawks just lost out on an epic plate final match up. Final score Bucks 77, Hawks 72.


A huge thank you to all the supporters who showed up to make for a fantastic atmosphere.


Written by:- Lee Morris


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