Cowbridge are the Welsh Basketball Champions

On Saturday 7th May the school’s Basketball season reached its climax with Basketball Wales National School’s finals. Cowbridge was represented by its Boys and Girls Key Stage 3 teams. Both had qualified as the number 1 South Wales seed by winning earlier tournaments. They’d been training hard in the weeks leading up to the finals and were determined to end the day victorious. Girls team co-Captain Jess Gregory was characteristically confident, “You can quote me on this, I’m here to win and nothing is going to stand in my way!”

The boys started off proceedings with their semi-final against St. Gerard’s of Bangor, the 2nd place North Wales team. Both sides began by showing signs of nerves and St. Gerard’s got ahead early. Cowbridge settled down quickly and cranked the defensive pressure up to 100. Although the boys continued to show some rust on the offensive end they literally shut the North Walians down. For the last three quarters St. Gerard’s remained scoreless and Cowbridge soared to an easy win, 27-5. After the game starting guard Will Marsden commented on the masterful defensive performance, “If you can’t light them up then it’s time to shut down their shop!”

The Cowbridge Girls side played their semi-final next. Their opponents were Flint High School, again the 2nd place North Wales team. Knowing this was an opportunity to demonstrate their experienced Basketball skills the Cowbridge girls attacked the basket with near reckless abandon. Flint struggled to find any answer and Cowbridge rolled to an easy win 42-6. Kate ‘K-Flo’ Floyd however wasn’t interested in getting carried away with the win though, “Listen, this is just takes us one step closer, it’s good but we’ll celebrate when we lift the cup and not before.”

After a break whilst the 3rd place games played out it was time for the KS3 Boys final. Facing Cowbridge would be their South Wales nemesis Cynffig Comprehensive. The teams had faced off in the first game in the South Wales tournament. Cowbridge had won that game and knew that Cynffig would be looking for revenge. Having rested and prepared themselves effectively Cowbridge flew to an early lead and led 14-4 at the end of the first quarter. It didn’t take long for Cynffig to get into the game however and the 2nd quarter was tight throughout, Cowbridge only slightly increasing their advantage by one point. The teams went into the half with Cowbridge still ahead 24-13. In the third quarter both teams matched each other perfectly blow for blow with both sides only scoring 4 apiece. Knowing the national championship was there for the taking Cowbridge entered the final quarter determined to bring home the silverware. The ball started moving like lighting as the boys found gaps in the Cynffig defence and punished them for it. The game ended with Cowbridge victorious 37-20. After the boys had finished celebrating Captain Tom Apjohn-Williams took to the mic and addressed the fans, “We’ve worked hard for this and we’ve done it by teamwork, the Vale way! We’ve felt for a while now we’re the best and now it’s undisputed!”

Eager to match the boys the Girls team took to the court straight after. Again the opponent was the 2nd place South Wales team. This time it was St Richard Gwyn who’d defeated Harwarden from Flintshire to reach the final. Expertly coach SRG had prepared a special game plan for Cowbridge that was designed to stop the driving games of Cowbridge co-Captains J-Greggs & S-Hawks. The 1st quarter was a tight affair with both teams leading at different points. Cowbridge had nudged ahead by end, going up 11-7. It was the second quarter in this final that both teams traded blows at an equal measure. Cowbridge struggled to score but managed to keep SRG under control. The teams headed into the half 15-11. Knowing that Plan A wasn’t fully working Cowbridge turned to Plan B and brought on Year 8’s Connie and Maddie. As the defence locked into the co-Captains the Year 8 girls snapped the SRG scheme marvellously. Connie positioned herself perfectly the paint to receive drop off passes and scored three straight baskets. Maddie found her spots outside the key and waited patiently as the co-Captains dragged the defence inside. The ball was kicked and swung to Maddie who set her feet and released a perfect jumper. As it swished through it could be seen that it was dawning on SRG there was no answer for the Cowbridge offense. Cowbridge powered ahead and finished strong winning finally 33-18. Beaming with a grin as wide as her face co-Captain Sophie said, “Boom! Champs, that’s how it is, the king stay the king”

These national titles are the culmination of three years of hard work by these Cowbridge students. They train every morning before school and weekly after school. The majority of them represent the Vale for its Basketball team the Vale Vipers. They won’t be resting on their laurels though. The Year 8 girls will be looking to defend the title next year. The Year 9 players will be eagerly anticipating the challenge of moving up to KS4 and trying to win it all again, even as underdogs when in Year 10. With a strong crop of Year 7 & 8 players coming through the future is bright for Cowbridge Basketball.

Boys Champions: Adam Duncan, Tom Apjohn-Williams, Jamie Owen, Will Marsden, Alex Oldham, Adam Durrant, Rory James, Joel Carter, Ollie Piper.

Girls Champions: Jess Gregory, Sophie Hawkins, Kate Floyd, Nicole Yip, Maddie Rooney, Connie Wood, Phoebe Lee, Vivian Yip, Emily Gregory, Hollie Oakman