Cowbridge Year 9’s crowned Basketball champions

On Friday 22nd of April the Cardiff and Vale School Basketball Association ran its annual Finals day. In each year group the top two teams from the leagues met in a winner takes all final to determine the champion. Two Cowbridge teams, the Year 8’s and Year 9’s had fought their way to a place at the finals. The Year 8 team was there for the first time. The Year 9 team won the final the year before and were keen to repeat as champions.

The Year 8 team tipped off first at 9:30am against Vale rivals St Richard Gwyn. Both schools fielded squads primarily made up of players from the Vale Basketball team, the Vale Vipers. They had also met earlier in the year with Cowbridge narrowly beating a depleted St Richard Gwyn team. Ace shooting guard Maddie Rooney was confident before the game, “We’re a smaller side but we train hard and trust each other. It’s not going to be easy, but it wouldn’t be worth winning if it was.”

The game was close in the first quarter with each team scoring 10 points each via a balanced attack. In the second quarter however Cowbridge struggled to find an answer for the strategic defensive play of their opponents and only managed to score 1 point whilst St Richard Gwyn rattled off four quick baskets. The rest of the game was again a tight affair but after Cowbridge’s star player, Captain Adam Duncan, fouled out in the 3rd quarter Cowbridge struggled to find the resources it needed to overcome the deficit it faced. They battled with everything they had until the final whistle but ultimately fell short. Reflecting on loss point guard Kate Floyd remained upbeat, “Getting here was a massive achievement, I’m so proud of my guys. I know we’ll work hard to be back here next year.”

The Year 9 team were similarly up against a Vale rival for their final. Barry Boys Comprehensive was the success story of the season in the Vale. After struggling mightily last season they reintroduced themselves this year as a new beast, led by six Vale Viper players. In the Vale league fixture earlier in the season the Cowbridge side had proved however to be too experienced for Barry, winning 41-26 in January.

After both teams scored a few initial points Cowbridge took the game by the scruff of the neck at the end of the 1st quarter and rushed ahead 10 to 4. This continued in the second quarter with Cowbridge ending the half up 19-10 and feeling confident. Early foul trouble for starting center Adam Durrant however became a big issue midway through the 3rd quarter. Without him to patrol the paint Barry went on a scoring spree and brought the Cowbridge lead right down to 2 mere points, a single basket. With his team facing one of its toughest challenges yet Captain Tom “Tommy A” Apjohn-Williams decided it was time to take over. In the dying seconds of the quarter he drove inside and scored, restoring some order to the game and sending Cowbridge into the final break feeling like they’d weathered the storm.

When the 4th quarter began Tom carried on where he left off, attacking the Barry defence fearlessly, either scoring baskets himself or creating opportunities for his teammates. By this point Barry had little left, the mental toll off fighting back from 9 down only to concede a large lead again proved a heavy burden. Jamie Owen and Alex Oldham finished off the game for Cowbridge scoring decisive baskets. A late Barry 3 pointer trimmed the lead a little but Cowbridge ultimately triumphed 36-31.

Key reserves Joel Carter and Jess Gregory were jubilant as the team celebrated their victory. “When Big AD got hit with that 3rd foul I knew it was time to step up” said Carter, “Injury knocked me out of a lot of games this season so to be able to make a big contribution in the final feels great.” Gregory chipped in, “That’s a heck of a team over there and they made us earn it this year, but hard work pays off!” As the team headed back to school to announce their triumph overjoyed reserve guard Nathan Milani could be heard singing “All we do is win, win, win no matter what!”

The season isn’t over yet for Cowbridge. On May 7th both Boys and Girls Key Stage 3 teams head to Swansea to play in the National School Finals. Both teams were victorious in the South Wales finals and are looking to declare themselves as king of the Welsh hills next month.

Year 8 team: Adam Duncan, Robbie Hawkins, Kate Floyd, Nicole Yip, Maddie Rooney, Connie Wood, Phoebe Lee, Vivian Yip

Year 9 team: Tom Apjohn-Williams, Jamie Owen, Will Marsden, Alex Oldham, Adam Durrant, Rory James, Jess Gregory, Joel Carter, Sophie Hawkins, Iwan Apjohn-Williams, Ollie Piper, Nathan Milani.