Stunning weekend of wheelchair basketball at the Lord’s Taverners Junior Championships 2017
In a fitting finale to the 2016/17 junior wheelchair basketball season Wales met the South West and the West Midlands met the North West as twenty regional teams from across the UK competed in the 2017 Lord’s Taverners Junior Championships.
In the Under 15 category the South East squad played an outstanding undefeated weekend and ultimately claimed the Championship title following a close fought game against Wales. The South East side clinched the win by just three points, in what was an emotionally charged final.
Competition was also fierce in the U19 category with the West Midlands squad hungry to bring home their third consecutive Lord’s Taverners Junior Championships title. The two sides met in the final gold medal game, where strong play shone through from both teams with the West Midlands winning the title.
The Lord’s Taverners Junior Championships also provided an opportunity to recognise exceptional young talent emerging through the development pathway. Ahead of the Championship’s medal presentations the Lord’s Taverners and British Wheelchair Basketball awarded Most Improved Players Awards in both the U15 and U19 categories to Kieran Jones and Sophie Paterson respectively. The Awards for Junior Male and Female Players of the Year were presented to Peter Cusack and Joy Haizelden. Finally the Jean Ratcliff Award for Outstanding Achievement was awarded to Worcester Wolves and Scotland U19 player Dylan Cummings.
Winner of the U19 Most Improved Player of the Year Award Sophie Paterson has had a phenomenal year, the GLL & Aspire London Titans and West Midlands squad member joined the GB Women’s Programme in 2017 and received her first senior team selection for the European Championships earlier this year. On winning the award Sophie commented:
“I would love to continue developing and one day be the best player in my classification. I’m always pushing to be the very best I can be so continued improvement is what I strive for. In terms of team goals though, to medal at a Paralympic Games would be the dream.”
U15 Captain on the South East team, Liam Barker was delighted with their title win and commented:
“It was amazing to win gold and become champions but to make history as well is just unbelievable, the team worked so hard and it was great to be playing in such a good squad.”
Following the conclusion to the 2017/18 Junior League season Lord’s Taverners Director of Charitable Programmes, Nicky Pemberton sees a positive future for the sport:
“The Lord’s Taverners Junior League Championships is a fantastic advert not just for wheelchair basketball but for all disability sport. We believe that sport and recreation is essential for all young people, regardless of ability or background and we’re very happy to be supporting the wheelchair basketball competition which provides regular opportunities for young people to enjoy all the benefits sport can bring both on and off the court.”