London United U18 has booked their place in the playoff quarterfinals after beating Islington Panthers 82-72. Despite the 10 point margin suggesting a fairly comfortable win the reality was far removed from comfort.
Despite a very good beginning marked by a 7-0 run, United very soon found itself in a very tough battle were with both team’s struggling for fluency. In a game punctuated by turnovers, Islington started to capitalise on United’s mistakes and finished the first half with a 4 point lead.
In the third quarter the young Londoners finally started finding their range and Kevin Szczawinski (led all scorers with 21 points), Keith Kanye and Afra Khalil were able to hurt Islington’s defence with long range shooting. With Carl Campbell stepping up to dominate both boards United was able to establish an 8 point margin which after the final minutes of trading baskets allowed them to finish on the right side of a 82-72 result.
Next Sunday United will face at home Leeds Force in a straight battle for the place in the U18 National League Final Four.
Coach Szatkowski was absolutely elated with result of the game: “It was a true team performance, this group of players really knows how to play together and they always find inspiration from their hard work. It was not a beautiful victory, but we are maybe not a beautiful team. We are a very blue collar group of people which work for each other. Our focus is qualification to the Final Four tournament and we have a week to prepare for Leeds. I’m absolutely convinced that these guys will do absolutely everything and probably some more to play in the Final Four tournament.”
London United v Leeds force will take place next weekend at Alec Reed Academy, details to be posted once confirmed.