7-May-2017 Surrey Playoffs Final

Woking Blackhawks v Richmond Knights u11 47-41

Having walked past the Atoms (20-0), beaten Feltham (64-47) in the quarter finals and beaten the Richmond Knights u12 (35-33) in an incredibly tense semi-final, it was the turn of the Richmond Knights u11.

But was it going to be an easier game? On paper maybe but on the day and when nerves become a major issue, anything can happen.

Liam got us going with a lovely layup and then Henry took over proceedings scoring 9 points in a row without reply from the Knights.
Following this, there was a period during which nothing dropped for the Blackhawks and as Richmond started putting their attempts away, the young hawks started to feel the pressure and missed at least 5 shots from under the basket.
Q1 finished 13-9 but it should have been all over by now.

Buoyed by Woking's inability to finish from the free-throw line (1 out of 4 made) at the end of Q1, the younger Knights took the fight to the Blackhawks and went ahead 17-19 in the 4th minute. After 7 points with no reply, it was time for a time-out!
Denver goes up and sinks the only basket till the end of the period to see both teams drawing 19-19 at the half.

So here comes the all-important Q3 and the Knights have the psychological advantage.
As they took to the floor, both teams were met by a wall of noise from the two sets of supporters who had been fighting their own unrelenting battle from the stands.

It went back and forth, baskets were traded, the lead changed hands more times than our collective blood pressure cared to acknowledge and with 24-25 showing on the scoreboard and 3.5 minutes left on the clock, another timeout, more instructions and this time it looked like the message got through!
Noah, who had been uncharacteristically quiet, started the resurgence with a lovely run to the basket, just because he could!
'King' Henry then took over once again to go on a 5-point run and marginalised the Knights' best player with some great and much-improved defence.
This breathed confidence into the young Blackhawks and created opportunities for Tieni and Sean to score before Henry won another rebound to scored and finish the period 16-9.

Woking stared Q4 35-28 ahead but halfway the period, the Knights clawed it back to put their noses ahead 39-40 as Richmond's Marco went on the rampage scoring 10 points with just 2 points in reply from Denver.
Another timeout and coach Costas asked his brave youngsters to refocus and give it their all for the next 3 minutes. And so they did in the most impressive way.
With Henry's legs worn to his knees, Noah decided it was time he took over and simply drove through the Knights's defences causing a hasty retreat amidst screams of excitement and support from parents, teammates and the U14s and their parents who had come early for their final to increase the decibels in the hall to deafening heights.

Tieni scored a huge basket to make it 45-40, Richmond replied with a free-throw but the game was slipping away from them as Woking ran down the clock in the final two minutes and Henry delivered the final blow seconds before the final whistle to complete a historic win for the club's U12s as they were crowned Surrey champions for the first time.

It was interesting to watch as the Knights tried to keep Denver quiet (he had scored 15 points in the semi), Henry went on about his business relatively quietly and ended up scoring 20 of the 47 points!
No doubt he was chosen as the final's MVP to everyone's delight!

There are no words to describe the pressure these young players went through over the past few weeks but they have created some very happy memories for themselves, their parents, their coaches and the Club as a whole.

Young champions, WE SALUTE YOU!

Blackhawks u12: Noah (6), Kiran, Liam (2), Lucas, Sean (4), Aidan, Tieni (6), Max, Denver (9), Henry (20)
Coaches: Costas Rakitzis, Nigel Barclay
Team Manager: Mawuse-Ayele Ayivi 

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