When our U18 Premier players traveled on rainy Thursday night through traffic jammed London streets to play against Lewisham Thunder, they could be excused for being a tiny bit apprehensive. Their first meeting at Alec Reed Academy merely a couple of weeks ago ended in a humiliating 37 points defeat. To make matters worse for United, their influential 6’7” forward Golovcenko was not available to join them.
The beginning of the game seemed to confirm their worst nightmares with United trailing by 13 points after the first quarter. The second ten-minute period brought more composure for United in both their offensive and defensive operations and we managed to reduce the margin single digits (9 points) by the interval. After the break Poorman despite facing double, triple and sometimes quadruple defence managed to perforate Thunder’s defence with his shooting or finding teammates wide open. His efforts were tremendously supported by the powerful Bentley, who finally started making proper use of his size inside and also from the 15 year old sharpshooting White. With 5 seconds left of regulatory time United was trailing by 3 points and the ball found White who launched yet another successful 3 pointer forcing overtime.
For four minutes in the added period both teams traded baskets and it was impossible to predict the final outcome in this tension filled encounter. With one minute to go both pillars of United offence, Poorman and Bentley fouled out and it looked like despite valiant efforts, United was heading for defeat. Two free throws successfully executed by Thunder gave them a seemingly decisive 1 point lead with 3 seconds left on the clock. However, Kolesnikovas making his debut for the first team had completely different ideas and coolly dribbled past the half line and attempted a 3 point shot from a minimum 9 metres. The ball hit nothing but net and United’s young players accomplished a memorable comeback on very hostile and notoriously difficult territory.
Coach Szatkowski after regaining some form of composure delivered this verdict “This could be quite easily the game which will define our season. Coming to Lewisham after being beaten by them by 37 points at home and winning after overtime will do wonders for our confidence. Especially in the situation when so many players contributed fabulously to our case.”
U18 South Premier
Lewisham Thunder-London United 96-98 (OT)
E.Poorman 29, Z.Bentley 20, W.White 15, M.Edwards 13, K.Kolesnikovas 10, E.Lartey 4, K.Hines 3, K.Szczawinski 1