SADDLEWORTH SCHOOL’S year nine basketball team has been crowned Greater Manchester champions following an extraordinary finals day at the Amaechi Centre, Whalley Range.
They defeated Manchester’s Trinity School 28-10 in the final only two hours after losing 40-12 to the same opponents in the group stage of the competition.Silv
That had been the Saddleworth youngsters’ first defeat in three years together and the prospect of qualifying for the final looked very slim at that stage.
Fortunately Saddleworth improved markedly throughout the afternoon and victories over Swinton High School, Oulder Hill from Rochdale and Golborne from Wigan secured runner’s up birth in pool B of the prestigious event, which brought together the best school teams from all 12 boroughs in the county.
Saddleworth then hit top form in their semi-final as they recorded an impressive win over pool A group winners Urmston Grammar by a 20-point margin.
This left a re-match with the hitherto unbeaten Trinity School in the final. And In a change of tactics from the first encounter, Elijah Wolstenholme took on the responsibility of point guard, Ethan Buckley was tasked with rebounding duties and Will Marston was in electric form on the fast break.
The exertions of a long afternoon seemed to have taken its toll on the very athletic Trinity side and it was the skills and composure under pressure of the Saddleworth team that led to a complete reversal of fortunes from the previous game.
Saddleworth were crowned champions and Manchester Giants’ head coach Jeff Jones presented the team captain Elijah with the winners’ plaque.
Both Saddleworth and runners up Trinity School will now represent Greater Manchester in the national stages of the competition.
The year nine basketball had earlier been crowned champions of Oldham for the third successive year as they were triumphant in the schools’ competition at the Ball Hall.
Six schools participated, but it was Saddleworth who remained unbeaten throughout the afternoon winning all seven games.
Saddleworth defeated Oasis in the first semi final with Failsworth prevailing over Radclyffe in the second.
A tight final, dominated by some sterling defensive work from both teams, was eventually won by Saddleworth 10-2.
Top performers on the day were Elijah Wolstenholme and Greg Simister.
Saddleworth competed in the county badminton championships at the National Cycling Centre as 20 schools took part from all the boroughs of Greater Manchester.
In their group, the girls lost 3-2 to Westleigh (Wigan), beat St Thomas More (Tameside) 3-2 and were beaten 4-1 by group winners Canon Slade (Bolton).
Alice Griffiths and Tara Phethean both won a singles match each, Alice also won two doubles matches while Robyn Cartwright and Emma Brewster won two doubles matches with Megan Bradbury and Tara Phethean.
It was a great learning experience for all the girls as they were all playing against older players so will still be eligible next year if they qualify.
The boys played Copley Academy (Tameside), Burnage Academy (Manchester) and Rivington/Blackrod (Bolton) and, although all players competed excellently they managed only one victory out of the 15 games played, with Oliver Keane and Nathan Roebuck winning a doubles match 15-10 against Copley.
The standard was very good and great to watch throughout the day, whilst also remembering that all the boys have another year at this age group if they qualify next year.
The year seven rugby team missed out on a big day out at the Stobart Stadium, Widnes, following a disappointing 22-6 defeat at the hands of Wade Deacon School.
On a bitterly cold afternoon, nerves took their toll as a string of unforced errors proved costly. Trailing 12-6 at the interval, despite having had the benefit of a gale force wind at their back, the team did improve their performance in the second half.
However, playing against such a strong wind and encountering some solid tackling a fairytale fightback was never really on the cards and ultimately never materialised.
Best players for Saddleworth were Gabriel Payne, Charlie McManus, Fenton Rogers and Tom Whitehead. Saddleworth’s sole try was an opportunistic effort from full back Mason Young who pounced on a rare error from the opposition late in the first half.
Meanwhile THE YEAR nine football team reached the semi finals of the Oldham Schools’ Cup for the third successive year.
It was achieved in style following a 9-1 win at Newman RC College with the match played in arctic-like conditions.
The first half saw biting icy winds, hailstorm, snow and a dominating display from Saddleworth.
Adam Howarth scored a hat trick, Dion McGhee and Dylan Fitzgerald scored two goals apiece while Danny McGroarty and Brandon Halliwell also found the net.