Phoenix have taken out the 18A Championship season title in stunning fashion in Tuesday night’s grand final overcoming a resilient Celtic Tigers side.
The game got off to a fast start for the Celtic Tigers with Phoenix lacking defensive awareness allowing William McCuskey to be left open for crucial early points. At the other end Celtic Tigers Dylan Porteous was making his height presence felt with strong defensive rebounding leaving no second chances for Phoenix.
League leading scorer James Reeves was allowed too much space and made the Celtic Tigers pay with strong mid-range shooting amassing an impressive 11 first half points. He was not alone with his partner in crime Jamie Constable making the most of his opportunities driving to the basket and scoring points at pivotal stages of the first half.
A strong finish to the half by Celtic Tigers Samuel McMaster clinching back to back baskets narrowed the Phoenix advantage going into half time with the scoreboard reading Phoenix 27 to Celtic Tigers 22.
The half time message from the Celtic Tigers bench was ‘the more time we have it, the less time they have it’. With control and making the most of their opportunities needed to ensure a competitive second half performance.
The key message from the Phoenix bench was ‘keep working and keep moving’, being repeated in order to keep the momentum they had and continue to create scoring opportunities.
The second half started off exactly the way Phoenix would have hoped with Josh Tainsh on fire from beyond the three point arc with three successful three point attempts to start the half. Blowing the leading out to 11 points with 15 minutes of play remaining.
The vocal Celtic Tigers crowd urged their side to wrestle back some control of the game and again up stepped Samuel McMaster to put crucial points on the board and start a run of consecutive points for the Celtic Tigers cutting the lead to 3 points.
This forced a Phoenix timeout to stem the flow of points and the Celtic Tigers momentum and it did just that with Phoenix’s James Hallet getting involved to score vital points putting the game back out to 11 points with four and half minutes to play in the game.
To the Celtic Tigers credit they kept making their opportunities count but so did Phoenix leaving no opportunity for the gap to be closed and as the time expired you could see the jubilation on the faces of the Phoenix players with the knowledge they had run away 11 point victors in a superb 18A Grand Final. The final score Phoenix 61 to the Celtic Tigers 50