Image: Nigel French/PA Wire
Three days of fantastic competition saw England North Girls and England South Boys crowned 2021 School Games 3×3 Wheelchair Basketball champions at the National Finals in Loughborough.
Being held for the first since 2018, the School Games National Finals saw the new format of 3×3 feature at the event for the first time and it provided plenty of thrilling action as 48 of the UK’s best young wheelchair basketball athletes competed for their region/country at the multi-sport event.
After two days of close-fought games in the pools stage, including an enthralling overtime victory for England South against England Pink in the Boys’ competition, it was Finals Day on Sunday when the overall placings were decided.
The Girls’ competition was extremely close all weekend which set-up an exciting Final as England North went head-to-head against England Pink in the gold medal decider. The game was tied at 9-9 heading into the final minute, but a Niamh Watson basket gave the North a one-point lead with just 53 seconds left on the clock.
It came down to the final attack of the match as England Pink looked to level the scores and force the game into overtime, but the North squad of Holly Lounds, Alice McHaffie, Rhumbizai Leah Mulomo and Niamh Watson, coached by Steve Greatorex, held firm to secure a 10-9 victory and the 2021 School Games title.
The Boys’ final was one of the highest scoring games of the weekend as an unbeaten England North played England South in the gold medal match. A superb 15-9 victory for England South saw Liam Barker, PJ O’Donovan, Charlie McIntyre, Daniel Smith and Abderrahim Taghrest, coached by Jack Davey, win gold.
Barker scored four of his game-high seven points in the final 60 seconds of the game to ensure there was no late drama after England North brought it back to a three-point game with just over two minutes to go.
Bronze in the Boys’ competition went to England Pink after an excellent 12-4 win against Scotland Blue, while bronze in the Girls’ event was won by Wales, who beat England Orange 8-4 in the bronze medal match.
In the earlier 5th-7th classification play-offs in the Boys’ competition, Wales secured fifth with two wins in the play-offs, while England Green’s 6-3 victory over Scotland White saw the Green team finish sixth and Scotland White seventh.
England North’s Rhumbizai Leah Mulomo was awarded the ‘Spirit of the Games’ award, which is given to the athlete that best demonstrates the School Games Values of determination, honesty, passion, respect, self-belief and teamwork.
As well as the on court competition, athletes were also able to engage in workshops delivered by British judoka and athlete mentor Tom Davis – these included sessions on ‘Team You’, communication and preparing to perform. Athletes also attended a session run by the Youth Sports Trust on The Power of Being an Athlete and took part in a UK Anti-Doping mock drugs test.
2021 School Games Results: https://www.schoolgamesfinals.org/sports/wheelchair-basketball/wheelchair-basketball-results/
Day 1 Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgjJBHXq3wg&t=5s
Day 2 Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcEA164DZwc
Day 3 Replay: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-l5BCvCCLk