Leeds Carnegie Basketball finally picked up their first ever playoff crown last weekend after a back-and-forth affair with League Champions, Reading Rockets.
A 71-65 point victory sealed Leeds’ inaugural playoff title with a man-of-the-match performance from MVP Jack Stannard, who picked up 27 points at the Amaechi Basketball Centre, Manchester.
The victory was all the more sweeter for the Yorkshire side as former Rockets coach, Samit Nuruzade, who left the Berkshire club in the summer, is now part of the coaching set up at Leeds.
Under Nuruzade’s tenure, Reading won the league and cup double last season and it seems success is following the coach through his prolific career.
The game itself was close throughout with both sides coming into the final off strong semi-final performances.
An 18-14 scoreline after the first quarter highlighted the similarities between the sides yet it was the Rockets who upped their game in the second to take the lead at the half way point.
23 points were scored by the league champions in the second quarter, answered only by 14 in return, leaving the score at 37-32.
After the interval, Leeds came back strongly and managed to tie up the game and setup the perfect final quarter where anybody could clinch the title.
Momentum was with the Carnegie side and it showed as some intelligent play gave the local side a lead which they were never going to lose. The side showed determination to hold on until the final whistle and, despite a late Reading comeback, pick up the season’s most prized piece of silverware.
Josh Wilcher’s 19 point haul for the Rockets was not enough to help his side comeback and the title was Leeds’.
The majority of Leeds’ scoring came courtesy of MVP Stannard, who led the way with 27 points. Backing him up was Russell Permenter, who claimed 15 points of his own alongside eight blocks.
Victory signals a big stepping stone for Leeds Carnegie who will now relish the chance to play in the country’s biggest league, the British Basketball League (BBL), next season in their first rookie year.