There has seldom been a more successful weekend for Durham basketball than the championship finals this year in Sheffield.
Over the years, the Durham presence on the BUCS basketball scene has gone from strength to strength, with both the men’s and women’s team coming into the championships this year as strong favourites for the title.
Last year the men took 2nd place with the women following closely behind with 3rd, so both teams looked to make that extra push this year to try and cause an upset at the top of the table.
The women kicked off the proceedings on Friday 16th, facing a much fancied Oxford side with a reputation for some unstoppable outside shooting.
Oxfordhave a strong basketball history, so this was by no means going to be an easy game for the Palatinates.
The Durham girls came in focused and made sureOxforddidn’t get a chance to get their shooting momentum going, allowing the Palatinates to dominate the game and come away with a comprehensive 84-56 victory.
Following the women’s good result, the men took on Middlesex, a team with a number of quick guards capable of some dangerous middle penetrations.
TheDurhamside however never looked shaken by the London side, and went on to win easily, 104-54.
Day 2 of the championships was semi-finals day as both Durham teams took on local rivalsNorthumbria.
Durham have taken on their northern counterparts several times this season with mixed results, so there was everything to play for in what promised to be another exciting day of the championships.
In the women’s game,Durhamfaced a Northumbria team with two particularly strong American players who have proven this year that they can pose a considerable threat.
The Palatinates secured an early 10-point lead which they managed to hold up until the 4th quarter, but there was still the feeling that anything could happen.
In the final quarter the Palatinates were unrelenting and showed true spirit to crush any Northumbria dreams of making the final, as they extended their lead to win by a 20-point margin, 86-66.
The men’s game followed, withDurhamcoming in as favourites to win having beatenNorthumbriain all their encounters in the regular league.
The men got off to a slow start, keepingNorthumbriawithin touching distance.
It was only in the second half that the Palatinates began to make serious headway, going on to win comfortably, 76-50. For the first time in history, there were two Durham teams in the final.
UWIC are renowned for their women’s basketball, with several GB under-20s players in their ranks and the coaching staff to match.
The Palatinates looked to close down UWIC’s quick inside play with strong defence, forcing outside shots from a team with no stand-out shooters.
The game started off with both teams matching basket-for-basket.
Strong rebounding from Rachel Baker, solid inside play from captain Katrin Hulme, and unremitting team defence from Durhamsaw the Palatinates begin to pull away in the 2nd quarter.
The second half was a show-case ofDurhambasketball with some great ball-movement and overall solid performance, allowing the Palatinates to run away with the game to come out as clear winners.
The final score of 75-38 is a testament to the hard work coach Davie’s team has put in this season, culminating in a weekend where no one could even come close to the dominant Durham women.
Congratulations also to Rachel Baker who was awarded most valuable player after consistently great performance over all 3 games.
After securing one gold medal in the finals,Durham’s next challenge lay with the men.
Defending champions Worcester compete alongside the Durham Wildcats in the British Basketball League (BBL) where they sit in 2nd place, so the match-up presented a real challenge for theDurham men.
Worcestergot off to a great start, leaving the Palatinates to play catch-up, at one stage trailing by 15 points.
Durhamfought back in the 2nd quarter however, with big man Mario Flaherty dominating the offense boards forDurham and point guard DJ Glavan weaving in and out of theWorcester defence to bring the score to an even 45-45 at half time.
Durhamhowever were unable to keep up their good form from the 2nd quarter and started getting into foul trouble in the 4th.
A late surge by the Palatinates in the last three minutes of the game was a case of too little too late, as the clock agonisingly wound down to crown Worcester men’s champions after a great display of basketball from the two teams.
The final result was 88-81 toWorcester.
A huge thank you goes out to coaches Lee Davie, Dave Elderkin and strength coach Jon Kantor who have worked overtime this year to achieve these great results. We look forward to next year’s championships to defend our title!
Tayler Wejnert, Franziska Worthmann, Helen McKinney, Kathryn Owens, Rebecca Mee, Julia Wegner, Rachel Baker (MVP), Florence Glen, Emily Clarke, Katrin Hulme (captain), Jenny Boyd.
Max Fowler, Mark Elderkin, Chris Pearce, Sam Chambers, Stephen Jones (captain), Fred Hinnenkamp, Mike Capocci, Odiba Attah, Kevin Wollbrinck, DJ Glavan, Mario Flaherty.