BWB National League returned in thrilling fashion with close games, high points scoring and plenty of drama, despite only four games taking place during the opening weekend (2-3 October) of the 2021/22 National League season.
Three of the four opening weekend games were in Sheffield, and the teams and spectators gathered at the city’s Northern General Hospital were certainly treated to three entertaining games.
In the Premier Division, 2018 World and 2019 European champion George Bates marked his Sheffield Steelers return in impressive fashion. Bates posted a game-high 36 points, 11 rebounds and five assists as he led the scoring in a thrilling opening Premier Division game which saw Steelers beat Mohawks 74:67.
Liam Fawcett was the top-scorer for the away team, scoring 32 points, including a three-pointer with 45 seconds of the game remaining as Mohawks closed the gap to five points, having trailed by 12 points with just under eight minutes to go. But Steelers held firm with the final two points in Tokyo 2020 co-captain Maddie Thompson’s eight-point haul securing a seven-point win for the Sheffield Steelers.
The Premier Division clash was part of a triple-header on the Sheffield court, including a Steelers-Mohawks double-header with the club’s second teams meeting in Division 1 North.
The game came down to the final second of the match with Ciaran Carrigan scoring the match-winning point from the free-throw line with 2.4 seconds left on the clock when the game was tied at 54:54.
The successful free-throw secured a one-point victory for the Mohawks (54:55) with Carrigan top-scoring with 21 points for the visitors. Jared Ryan and Joseph Williams scored 18 points each for Steelers.
The final match in Sheffield on Sunday was another close game, with just one point separating Sheffield Steelers 3 and Leicester Cobras heading into the final quarter in Division 3 Central. Steelers extended their lead in the final quarter to win by six points, 49:43.
Aidan Spilsbury was the game’s top-scorer with 17 points for Cobras, while Heather Andrews led the scoring for Steelers with 14 points.
Elsewhere, the only other National League fixture of the weekend took place on the South Coast as Sussex Bears began their season with a 57:45 win against The Bears 2 in Division 2 South. Muhammad Aurangzaib Ayub topped the game’s points scoring with 21 points for the Bears.
For BWB National League results, fixtures and league tables, please visit https://britishwheelchairbasketball.co.uk/competition/national-league/