A young wheelchair basketball team have been crowned British Champions after defeating the best talent in the UK at the National Finals in Worcester this weekend.
The North Wales Knights U15 squad arrived in Worcester after a remarkable league campaign. The Knights secured the Northern Division League Title after winning each of their twelve games throughout the season.
The first game of the day saw the Knights play Sussex based Tornado Kings who were in fine form right from the tip. It was the Tornado Kings who raced into a 13 point lead as the Knights’ nerves, and some excellent play from their counterparts, gave them a huge task. Trailing 17-8 at half time the Knights were looking at an early end to their hopes of winning the tournament. However, this incredibly strong group of players put in a stunning second half performance, clawing back the Kings and winning one of the games of the day 29-23!
The semi-finals saw a strong Coventry Wheelchair Basketball Academy lay in wait, a team that had only lost once all season topping their Central Division. The Knights were up for the challenge and put in one of their most accomplished performances of the season. Taking the lead early on and controlling the game as it progressed to ensure that the North Wales team would reach the final in their debut season.
The final was played in front of a capacity crowd and pitched the Knights against the Northern Division runners-up and regular opponents, Tees Valley Titans. In a tense affair the Knights held on in a very hard fought first half before demonstrating their physical and mental strength under pressure, pulling away in the last few minutes to take the National Title 24-16.
Mike Hayes, Head Coach, said “We as a coaching team have challenged this group to go out and show the UK what we know they can do. Every time they’ve been up against it in a game they’ve come through with incredible belief, they never stop believing in each other. They are a pleasure to coach. I’m in awe of this developing golden generation.
The Knights fans made an enormous amount of noise throughout each game and really got behind their team when they needed it. This was recognised by British Wheelchair Basketball who presented them with a signed GB Women’s vest in recognition of their ‘Best Fans’ award.
The North Wales Knights, who are supported by Conwy County Borough Council and other partners, are based in Parc Eirias and have three senior National League teams who compete all over the UK. Marianne Jackson, Head of Community Development Service, said “We are committed to facilitating sport and physical activity opportunities for local people and are thrilled to have been able to work in partnership with such a dedicated group of volunteers. I’d like to congratulate the young North Wales Knights squad on their superb achievement and wish them all the very best in what promises to be an exciting future.”.
Mark Richards, Conwy’s Disability Sport Officer, added “It takes an enormous amount of hard work and dedication to become British Champions, not only by the players but by their coaches, families and everybody else behind the scenes. It’s fantastic to see all of their hard work pay off and everybody involved in this success should be applauded as they are a credit to disability sport.”.