Tigers U16 boys battled hard in their first home match at the Dome but in the end came up short, losing to an impressive Stroud Sharks team 62 – 51.
The teams looked to be evenly matched and the first half did not reflect the quality within both sides as lacklustre finishing culminated in a very low total of 25 – 17. Tigers managed only nine points in each of the first two quarters.
The boys turned the tables on the visitors in the third with energetic full court defence and better execution of the offence. In fact it was a line-up of four first year players and one senior who is new to Tigers that led the turnaround with rookie forward Matt Parks throwing himself at everything and scoring six points in the period.
Down three heading into the final quarter the game was set for a thrilling finish. Senior forward Yosef Elo Gab dominated the initial stages scoring the team's first six points of the period including a leaping tip-in following a missed shot.
Elo Gab, however, picked up his fifth foul following his offensive outburst and had to sit. Parks and rookie Nathan Webb were admirable in replacement, but the offence was then largely left to senior co-captains Dominic Hinchliffe and Ben Hayes, which proved to be too much of a burden even for their quality.
Tigers held a one point lead in the fourth finally succumbing to Stroud's distinct size advantage. Forced to foul, Sharks executed down the stretch and hit in the last 30 seconds of the game to create a score that did not reflect the closeness of the teams.
With two games under their belts, all but one of the 18-man squad has seen battle and the rookies continue to show they are capable of handling the speed, physicality and intensity of U16s basketball.
Coach Mark Crncich says,
“We talk about two keys before and during every game: effort and execution. So far I have no complaints about the effort level of any player on the squad, but we are lacking in the execution department. We you play a solid team like Stroud you can't afford a lapse in either area. I know these boys are capable of better and have no doubt that once our execution gets better we will be very tough to beat.”
The boys are away to Exeter Eagles next week before travelling to Bristol to meet Flyers in the first round of the Cup on October 23. The team's next home tip is on Saturday, October 29 when they host Midlands-based Arden Griffins, tip at 1:15.