On what was a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon in the KZN capital, the Maritzburg College and Westville first basketball teams locked horns in an Alan Paton Memorial Hall packed with vocal supporters.
Prior to the start, both teams lined up for a minute’s silence (feature pic) to honour Westville’s senior deputy headmaster, Mr Nestor Pierides, who had passed away during the week, a man who had done much to build the Westville sports programme.
The clash marked the beginning of the 2019 KZN schools basketball year and as the KZN10.com match preview indicated, this tussle was slated to be a ding-dong affair between two of the KZN10 giants – and it certainly lived up to the hype.
As a Stayers’ side, College beat Westville 64-55 in the 4th term of 2018 so there was much anticipation for the return encounter.
As Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard says: “The shouting captain for 2019 Ollie Zondi ensured that the supporters sang war cries throughout the match and this added to the wonderful atmosphere at the game, also showcasing what schoolboy sport is all about.”
The home side led the first quarter by 2 points and the same score margin at halftime indicates the closeness of this contest.
The third quarter proved to be the game-changer.
The third quarter started with the teams locked in an intense arm wrestle as neither side could really dictate play for any extended period of time. Every time Westville narrowed the gap College would score a couple of quick baskets to maintain a 6- to 7-point lead.
“Up to that point every time College’s offence and defence found synergy they would take the game away from Westville,” Maritzburg College first team basketball coach Zeke Oosthuis told KZN10.com
And it was during one these better spells of play by Maritzburg College that the turning point in the game occurred.
College were in control of the game and placing enormous pressure on Westville to make up their points deficit on the scoreboard.
College stole Westville ball and set off on the fast break, but the layup was unexpectedly missed and in the ensuing tussle College lost the ball to Westville.
On the very next Westville possession, College were again able to manipulate the Westville defence, and a College player broke for another uncontested layup but the point’s opportunity was missed once again.
So, to the Breakdown of Quarters 1 and 2 and 3
1st MC 11 W 9
2nd MC 10 W 8
3rd MC 14 W 13
The air seemed to be sucked out of the building.
“Westville, sensing that College had failed to land the killer blow, took the opportunity and started hunting for offensive rebounds, placing enormous pressure on the College guards to box out all members of the attacking team,” says coach Zeke.
Westville ended this decisive third quarter stronger, with College fighting to keep their lead. The quarter ended with College still holding the Westville team at arm’s length, but the College lead was now a “gettable” 5 points, as opposed to the 9 points is should have been.
Westville started the fourth quarter sensing that they had gained the ascendancy, and a marked feature of the opening minutes of that final quarter was the urgency with which they played.
“Westville, who up to that point had tried to score by running traditional plays for some key players, threw caution to the wind and aggressively attacked the College defence, taking every opportunity to drive to the basket,” says MC coach Zeke Oosthuis.
“College, who had contained Westville quite handily for most of the game, seemed to be thrown by Westville’s confidence and determination, and the lads in Red Black & White committed numerous unnecessary fouls in trying to stop the avalanche of Westville attacks.”
Midway through the 4th and final quarter Westville, behind some inspired play from SA U15 player Ethan Brooke, took the lead and ultimately control of the game.
4th QUARTER A MATCH-CHANGING Westville 19 MC 8
Grade 10 basketballer Ethan showing a great deal of big-match temperament in scoring 2 huge 3-pointers to electrify the Westville fan base, and the outcome saw Westville running out 49-43 winners.
Let’s look at Quarters 1 and 2… Even though College won the jump ball, it was Westville who opened the scoring and maintained the lead for a large part of the first quarter. However, with both good offense and defence the home team bounced back from a scoring drought to end that first quarter 11-9 ahead.
Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard: “Halfway through the 2nd quarter College had built a commanding 12-point lead through executing their game plan effectively.
“But, as was the case in the corresponding fixture in the 4th term, College again lost focus in the remaining minutes of the first half as Kgopotso Matlena of Westville exerted his considerable frame in the post and cut the lead to 2 heading into the break.”
MATCH MUSINGS of MC COACH ZEKE OOSTHUIS
“The anticipated one-on-one match-up between Cameron Best of Westville and Liam van Rensburg of College didn’t scale the heights as much as it potentially could have, as both players had moments of brilliance but otherwise cancelled each other out on the day.
“It will be interesting to see how their seasons progress as they may be the top two wing forwards in KZN this year.
“It was a great advert for the health of KZN basketball as two of the premier teams displayed a high level of basketball. As is the case though with talented and competitive 1st teams the margins for error are very fine – a few opportunities missed or taken can be the difference between winning and losing.
“Down the final stretch Westville made the better decisions and played the big possessions better.”
Westville won the fourth and final quarter by a match-clinching 10-point margin.
“Westville did themselves and their supporters proud, and if the jubilation of the team and boys at the final buzzer is any indicator, this was a match that they really wanted to win and was also a mark of the esteem that they hold Maritzburg College basketball in.
“Maritzburg College, on the other hand, can with reason be left feeling that they let this one get away. After 3 basketball quarters of dominance, they lost the last quarter 19-9, an indicator, possibly, of fitness. A tough lesson to be learned it seems.”
And as Maritzburg College MIC basketball Jenny Orchard says, “Coach Paul ‘Bear’ Bryant once stated, ‘Concentrate on winning the second half’, and this is what the College team need to do for their next game against Hilton College.”
Overall, however, it was a successful day for the Maritzburg College basketball programme, with 16 matches played, College winning 11 and Westville 5.
Coach Zeke looks ahead to Saturday, January 19: “The match-ups offer intriguing story lines. Home side Westville take on the undefeated Michaelhouse team of the 4th [Stayers] term. The corresponding fixture last term was cancelled, so it’s all to play for.”
Maritzburg College make the short journey up the hill to take on Hilton College. Another absolute cracker is in the offing.
ALL THE BASKETBALL RESULTS
* Maritzburg College score first
1st lost 43-49
2nd lost 27-34
3rd won 29-16
16A won 24-17
16B won 38-22
16C won 18-16 extra time
15A lost 24-25
15B won 22-15
15C lost 14-27
15D won 13-10
15E lost 6-11
14A won 40-23
14B won 10-5
14C won 16-6
14D won 6-2
14E won 14-8
14F drew 4-4
MC overall vs Westville
MC 4th vs 5th…… 4th won 29-15
MC 16D vs 16E….. 16E won 22-20