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Pretoria High School League: Willows whitewash St Albans – 8 May 2009

By on May 19, 2009 in High School

Friday the 8th of May saw Willowridges’s male sides take a daunting trip down the road to rivals St. Albans College for a league fixture that promised a lot of fireworks. Willowridge U/14 and U/16 A boys needed to win these games to stay in contention as they had already lost this season and the First Team had a score to settle as they had lost in a controversial manner to the same side last year.

The U/14 game started off slow with St. Albans taking possesion but not putting it too good use as they were a bit ‘too patient’ on offence allowing the defence to catch them out. A few lay up’s saw St. Albans take the lead and Willows had it all to do in this do-or-die encounter. Dumisani Shongwe and Theo Malatji, the Willowridge coaches, did not waste much time in calling a time out to restructure their game plan. This seemed to have been a wise move as Willows tightened up defence and hardly let another basket in for the first half. College had many players with potential but minor issues like constant three second violations, fouls and the usual jitters had them playing from an almost stagnant position on offence. Victor Fouda, the College coach should have done better to make use of his no.15, a player the size of your average U/19 SG who could easily pass of for Shaq’s son (except he is white). This giant was well contained by Willows and when he did get chances he failed to convert. The second half saw Willows adopt the ‘draw fouls’ approach as they drove the ball to the basket hard drawing some crucial fouls and netting important free throws. When College stopped fouling it was the shooting guards turn to shine as they dropped jump shots like a heavy load, Willows had it pretty much wrapped up half way through the second half. The excitement got to the young boys who began giving away easy possession and making clumsy passes on the fast break, this allowed College to score some easy lay ups to salvage some pride on the score sheet. Willowridge U/14 boys outclassed St. Albans to emerge 30 – 20 victors. The dream lives on.

The U/16 boys had put in a shocking performance the day before as they only managed to beat PBHS C team by 11 points and they had already lost to the same schools A team this season. College came into this game with a score to settle as they had lost to Willows in both junior divisions the previous year. The hype seemed to be a false alarm as both teams played sloppy, casual and cautious basketball. Structure and discipline were lacking as the players seemed to be having a free for all on the court. Eventually Willowridge took the game 21 – 18 in what was a very lacklustre affair. Both teams will have to go back to the drawing board if they have any intentions of laying a claim to the championship this year.

The First Team game was the pick of the day as the players and coaches had all sorts of different scores to settle emanating from previous years rivalries. The game was quick but cautious as neither team had an inch to give away. Willowridge struck early with a 4 – 0 lead after hard posting from their no.11. St. Albans soon found their feet and took willows to the cleaners as no.10 threw down 2 consecutive three pointers to give college the lead. Consistent posting by Willows saw them take the lead after the first quarter. The second quarter saw Willows Seth Mulli answer the three point calls with a no look dagger and all those who were not certain now knew that we had a game on our hands. Victor Fouda’s introduction of Rhys Carrolisen into the point position paid off as he managed to stabilise the team. This allowed no.10 to go back to his ways as he dropped jump shots and faked to the basket countlessly. This led coach Tumi Bapela of Willowridge to send Theo Malatji into man defence on this player, this move seemed to have killed the game for College. Both teams squandered numerous opportunities and went into the half tied but the second half proved too much for College. The chance wasting never stopped but Willows stepped up their defence to frustrate College whose defence seemed to only deal with drives through fouls. Fast break basketball came into play for Willows in the last quarter and College simply had no reply. Willowridge ran away with the game to win 27 -17 and complete a total white-wash of the hosts on the day. Willowridge needs to keep up their form to do what they have never done before and win a senior title whereas St. Albans needs to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise soon as the finals are a month away. Maybe the Willowridge basketball motto is true after all, ‘Labor Omnia Vincit’- hard work conquers everything. 

Article by Katlego Malatji

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