And so it is that I am on my way to Bradford on the Saturday lunchtime in preparation for one of my biggest games in Leeds Carnegie history.
This is another truly massive sporting weekend with big Premier League games, F1 continues and of course England are fighting hard to try and sneak a draw in the 1st test against India. The first Premier League game was under way with Arsenal running riot against 10 man Tottenham Hotspur. Champions Manchester City would later take on Aston Villa in Manchester while Man United had a tricky trip to Norwich.
I arrive at Carnegie to find Leeds Carnegie Men 11 about to take on Rotherham Hawks, and what a fantastic game this one turned out to be.
The Hawks got off to a most fantastic start to lead 30-11 at the end of the 1st, but from here Carnegie would slowly work their way back into this one and scaring the pants off the boys from Rotherham and their massive following of mums, dads and friends.
Carnegie would lose the second quarter by just 1 point 24-25 meaning a score at the half of 35-55 in favour of Rotherham. A deficit of 20 points. Was there any way back? Well if there was a way back I for one couldn’t see it.
Into the 3rd and both teams are holding their own giving up no easy points. The Hawks back court were having a field day but the Carnegie big men were working hard to stay in the game. The 3rd Quarter would be tied 23 a piece meaning an end of Q score of 58-78, Carnegie still 20 points down.
Well from here it would all change as Carnegie would intensify their defence and score at will at the other end. Bit by bit they would eat away at the massive Hawks lead but in the end would come up just short.
Carnegie would win the final quarter 34-22 to end the game 92-95 according to the score book. I think there was a 3 point discrepancy somewhere but it really didn’t matter. Unfortunately for Carnegie it would have made the score 92-98 in favour of Rotherham.
This was a fantastic game and congratulations must go to both teams.
I suggested to Carnegie 11 Head Coach Paul Hartley that if his guys hadn’t dug themselves into a hole, they wouldn’t have to climb their way out. He told me that Carnegie were playing their second game of the day and his guys were a bit tired. Tired they might have been but they put up one heck of a fight. [Just received a message from Coach Hartley telling me that that was Carnegie’s U14s playing in the U15 on Saturday.]
And so the Arena was cleared in preparation for the Official Launch and the big D1 game against local rivals Bradford Dragons. These guys have played each other on numerous occasions over the years and the games have always been close affairs. They had met once this season at Bradford and Carnegie ran out comfortable winners.
My equipment is all set up and I am following the Premier League scores on the BBC Sport website.
Manchester City defeat Villa by 5 goals to none while in the earlier game Arsenal put 5 past Spurs, while conceding 2.
Chelsea were defeated by West Brom 2-1 and I must say congratulations to Baggies Manager Steve Clarke. I have raved about this guy for years and I am delighted that he is finally getting a chance to show just what he can do.
The late game would see Man United travelling to Norwich who are looking strong under new Head Coach/Manager Chris Hughton. Chris is another young coach who has proved that he knows how to get the best out of his players.
Now I do not think either West Brom or Norwich will win the Premier League but their results over this campaign could have a very significant effect on where the Premier League Trophy finally ends up this season.
I have spoken elsewhere on mikeshaft.com about my first encounter with Matt Newby, the Director of Basketball at Leeds Carnegie and what got me excited about this programme was his vision for the future of Basketball in Yorkshire and here at Leeds Carnegie.
The great and the good of Yorkshire and Leeds Carnegie are assembled for drinks and Canapés and then the expectant crowd is finally allowed to enter the Arena which is looking stunning. The arena has been effectively turned around with the team benches and scorers table at the opposite side of the floor. This means that as commentator I can now actually see the crowd from my commentry position.
Within minutes the venue would be full and the players would be on the court warming up. The big team news was that Daumants Pabrieza of the Dragons would take no part in the game because of injury while Carnegie starter Jack Stannard is in his walking clothes for the same reason.
Well after the official launch the game finally gets on the way and what a game we have to grace this wonderful Arena.
For those who do not know about Carnegie Basketball I have to tell you that this year Coach Newby has recruited a truly stunning outfit with sensational players at every spot.
It is interesting that with college ball in the UK as elsewhere you can see the development of players over the years at very close quarters. Players who come in at Year 1 tend not to get many minutes but by year 2 or 3 they are the starters as other players fill their shoes on the bench.
The starting 5 for Carnegie would be Wilkins, Elderkin, Anebo, Ajumobi and Marsden while for the Dragons Coach Mellor would go with Edmunds, Saladzius, Fetske, Malek and Silcott.
The ball goes up and we are on the way and the impressive Robert Marsden gets the first score to the delight of a full house. In that 1st Quarter Ajumobi, who would seem to be Carnegies’ big scorer at the moment would hit 7 points including 1 triple while Wilkins would add 5.
For Bradford the impressive Saladzius had 5 along with stalwart Vance Silcott. The score at the end of the 1st was Carnegie 17 Bradford 13.
Here is my tweet at the end of the 1st stanza…1st Q Carnegie leads 17-13 over Bradford. Great start to the game and a full house. AWESOME!
Into the 2nd and it was more of the same as the teams went head to head. Silcott continued his good work for Bradford while Carnegie really spread it around with 4 players going to the well in the 2nd.
The score at the half was Carnegie 30-28 Bradford. This was what I had to say on Twitter…Oh BABY What a ball game score at the half Carnegie 30-28 Bradford. Clifford drains buzzer beating 3ball to give Leeds the lead at the half.
The 3rd Q was an absolute monster as Bradford would come roaring back to take a 7 point lead and things weren’t looking good for the home team or the massive crowd. But we need not have worried. The score at the end of the 3rd was 48/44.
This was my tweet at the end of the 3rd…End of the 3rd Carnegie on top 48/44 Good Q for visitors but home team took back control. 4x3s in that Q by Carnegie.
And so into the 4th and Carnegie really took control on the back of some amazing shooting.
This last time I wrote about ‘Nebo it was to tell the world that he had more fouls than points in that game.
Well tonight it was different He would light up the new Arena with 3 triples in a row that would send the crowd wild, and would finish with 14 points in the game.
Ajumobi or is it Ajukobe (I like that) would have another solid night with a team high 19 points including 3 triples and it was probably the best night yet at home for Mark Elderkin who went for 10 including 2, 3balls.
And so despite numerous fouls by both teams to try and play the clock Carnegie would run out comfortable winners with a final score of 73/67 over Bradford.
Here is my final tweet…Leeds Carnegie win it 73/67 over Bradford. Man this was AWESOME. Read the write-up soon on http://mikeshaft.com . Boy what a game you missed!
For the visitors Mark Saladzius would finish with a game high 21 while Vance Silcott would have 20 and Rihards Sulcs would chip in with a solid 15.
Later in the evening Twitter and Facebook would be alight with comments about the game and the evening as a whole. I have picked out 1 from Ian Smyth which really sums it up for me…
@mikeshaft @carnegiebball @carnegiesport Awesome job last night Mike, you made a great match into a great event. Thanks
One of the most memorable moments was when I announced the final score from the Norwich/Man United game and the crowd erupted. The Canaries had defeated the Reds 1-0.
When on Sunday the F1 American race was won by Lewis Hamilton, it was the culmination of a quite wonderful weekend.
Now I have to tell you it does not get any better than this.
You have got to love it when a plan comes together.
Photo – Chris Hughton (AFP/Getty)
Other Photos – Carnegie Official & Oliver’s’ Dad.
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