The Men’s Basketball 1sts took on top of the table Leicester at Sport and Fitness and were agonisingly close to picking up their third win of the season unfortunately losing 73-74 in what was a very tight and entertaining match.
Following an away loss against Worcester last week, the Lions were looking to get a positive result from a tough game to assert themselves within the Midlands 2A league. The opening quarter started very evenly, with neither side getting more than a three point lead for the first eight minutes. Point guard Ollie Thomas controlled play nicely for the hosts, forcing fouls and making free throws to keep the side ticking over. Birmingham drained a very deep three late in quarter to give themselves a five point advantage later on, and it was 20-16 to UoB at the end of the quarter.
Defensive rebounds were somewhat problematic for the Lions early in the second quarter, but they were able to extend their lead to 30-25 after a few minutes. Leicester then began growing into the game and embarked on a 7-0 scoring run to take the lead. Fraser Argyle then made a splash with a well-taken three-pointer, but the away side had the lead at half time, 37-39.
Birmingham looked fired up at the start of the third period as Thomas asked the Leicester defence questions, scoring a great reverse lay-up following a great move in the key. The momentum from this was clear to see as the Lions had a great passage of play, leading 59-50 at the end of the quarter as Leicester missed two free throws just before the buzzer. The tension in the crowd was nail-biting.
The same player missed another set of free throws in the first minute of the fourth quarter, and Birmingham capitalised on this, extending their lead to as many as 11 points. However, Leicester’s quality continued to shine through and their ball movement was noticeably improved from the first quarter. Their intensity was markedly improved, and they quickly closed the score to 64-62 by forcing Birmingham to use a timeout with a few minutes left. Thomas came back on the court after a rest and extended the lead to five. Leicester kept within touching distance though, and with 2:30 left on the clock, the Lions took the lead for the first time in the half.
As the game entered its final minute, Birmingham were down 71-73 and Leicester did well to draw a foul and convert one of their free throws to put the game beyond Birmingham’s reach. Unable to hit a three-pointer to tie the game, the Lions left everything on the court as it finished 73-74. A great performance from the team who can be proud of their efforts against a very well organised Leicester side. Next week they travel to Warwick in a local derby and will look to build on this fantastic performance to pick up a win.