Boys FINAL: Handsworth vs. Charles Hays
Written by Scott Leigh, Handsworth Grad 2006
Battle of the blues in this final game of the 2018 No Regrets Basketball Tournament - Handsworth Royals versus the Charles Hays Rainmakers. The Royals are making their second straight appearance in the finals of this tournament, and they are hoping for a different result this year around as they finished second in the 2017 tournament. An intriguing matchup to keep your eye on between two big-men who can handle the ball: the Royals #21 Horn and the Rainmakers #13 McChesney.
The Rainmakers execute on their first possession getting McChesney an easy bucket at the rim. Limiting the Rainmakers penetration to reduce the help side defense required will be a key factor in the Royals success tonight. #6 Lupton for the Royals navigates this way through the key with a smooth looking Eurostep to give his team an early 5-2 lead. A strong sign for the Royals as they have started this game playing confident basketball, not afraid to attack the lengthy Rainmakers and knocking down open jump shots. The Rainmakers have struggled to find their rhythm after the starting position, which has resulted in them being down 10 early. Not dissimilar to the girls’ final, a mechanism found to increase the intensity in the gym is to have a minor clock issue which leaves the gym in silence for a few minutes to ponder their thoughts. The Rainmakers seem to have appreciated the break in play, as they have regrouped and come out on a 5-0 run post-clock delay. The intriguing head-to-head matchup has not disappointed, with #21 Horn working the shoulder shake and finish and #13 McChesney coming right back at Horn and earning the foul call. The Royals were up 8 at the end of the first quarter.
McChesney’s height is creating difficulties for the Royals’ guards looking to finish inside - he just sent that layup attempt right back where it came from. #10 Leighton for the Rainmakers is doing his part, working down low and finishing with a crafty finger-roll. #10 Leighton, who is rumoured to be cousins with McChesney, just sent a three point attempt into the concession stand. Apparently #10 Leighton is as upset as the fans that the ‘No Regrets” donuts have all been eaten, and his only possible way of redemption was to try and break the concession price board. An equal battle in the second quarter with both teams playing their tails off has the coaches looking for answers, from anyone. The Rainmakers coach is testing out each empty seat on the bench to try and find that lucky seat that will help his team find a lead. Hard to blame him, these Collingwood seats have NBA cushion quality. A hard fought scramble on the offensive boards leads to a second chance opportunity for the Royals, ending with #6 Lutman making a buzzer beating fade away three from the corner. Halftime score: Royals 32 to Rainmakers 23.
Halftime Fact 1: Handsworth’s Coach Storey won a provincial championship as a coach of the Royals back in ’06 - a team that was led by the inspiration behind the No Regrets Basketball Tournament, Quinn Keast.
Halftime Fact 2: These players competing here tonight would have been in grade 1 when Quinn Keast was in grade 12 (Andy Prest, North Shore News).
The block party continues in the second half with both teams coming out with big denials at the rim. #12 Van Bylandt for the Royals is heating up with back-to-back buckets… “#12 Van Bylandt receives a pass from the man and BOOOOOM goes the dynamite!” - professional announcer. A back and forth second Q has at times seen the Royals lead get up to 10 and has fallen to as low as 5. Both squads are getting physical and fighting hard on every possession. As we start to the near the final quarter the importance of each possession continues to grow, and the players are well aware. A late three by #10 Leighton brings the Rainmakers within 8 points heading into the final quarter.
In a strong take to the hoop #9 Watters for the Royals finishes with the contact, and earns an opportunity for a three point play. Each team has been taking advantage of their possessions and making smart plays in the offensive zone. You can start to the feel the desperation in the Rainmakers with each possession that goes by, knowing they have to get on a solid run in the next 5 minutes to give themselves a chance to win this final game. Another three from #9 Watters is not helping the Rainmakers cause. In the offensive zone the Royals are looking to run down the clock and get to the final whistle as soon as possible. The lead has been pushed to 14 points in the Royals favour with under 4 minutes remaining. Charles Hays is putting the pressure on with an aggressive full court press, looking to create quick turnovers and easy buckets. Too little too late for the Rainmakers as the Royals roar loud and proud as the 2018 No Regrets Basketball Tournament champions. The final whistle goes in this championship game with the Royals winning 69-50.
Big thank you to all of those supporters and participants of our 2018 No Regrets Basketball Tournament, near and far.