York Vikings are pushing the boat out in the National Basketball League this year.
After sailing to victory in last year’s local Leeds League, the Vikings were granted entry into the National Basketball League for the first time in their history.
The club have performed valiantly so far in the NBL Fourth division, winning four of their eight league fixtures, with top scorer Adam Wright in fine form.
On Sunday (Dec 3rd), they were faced with the mammoth task of beating league leaders Calderdale Explorers who have won all of their eight league fixtures this season.
Speaking before the game, Vikings point-guard Oliver Scott praised the youth set up at the club having come through the ranks as a youngster.
Like many others in the team, he is now aiming for an American scholarship.
Scott commended the ‘smooth transition’ he experienced from youth to senior basketball.
The same managers are at both the York Eagles [youth team] and the Vikings team, so it is good because you get familiar with the different systems of both teams from an early age.
We want to progress and a lot of us are aiming for scholarships. We have good ties with the Universities and we’re trying to get more people involved in basketball.
– Oliver Scott
Calderdale sink the Vikings
It was always going to be difficult for York Vikings against the fiery winning culture of Calderdale Exploreres.
The game started as some may have expected, with Calderdale playing some wonderful flowing basketball to take a 21-34 lead in the first quarter.
A number of key interceptions allowed the Vikings to reduce the gap on Calderdale to 10 points in the second quarter.
York sharp shooter Russell Quinn landed some impressive 3 pointers and Adam Wright converted a number of free-throws, as the Vikings came back to only loose out by 24-21.
With the score at 45-55 going into the third, the game became very physical. Towering Vikings centre Kev Bishop battled in defence to keep the ball out and sent a number of Calderdale attackers to the deck in the process.
However, it was the explorers that managed to gain the upper hand, as they capitalised on some sloppy passing from the Vikings to gain a 19-point lead in the third quarter.
Top scorers Nat Atkins, Rob Fairly and Rob Donaldson starred for Calderdale, who’s key interceptions were inspired by the intimidating ‘defence’ chants coming from the explorers bench.
Although the Vikings battled hard to reduce the points gap to 12 half way through the last quarter, they couldn’t come back. The West Yorskhire District side took the lead back to 19 points to win the game 87-108.
Weeks looks to the future
York Vikings Head Coach Richard Weeks was disappointed with the result against the league leaders. He felt that the Vikings could have competed better in the game, but is confident that his team can get back to winning ways in their next game.
That was a really tough game. We’ve improved over the last six or seven weeks, but we should be competing a bit better in games like that.
Calderdale are well drilled and disciplined side and we couldn’t match their physicality. That was the difference.
That was probably our toughest game. We have two home fixtures coming up against Barrow and Kingston and hopefully we can put them away and get moving up that table.
– Richard Weeks
He claimed after the game that the club’s success has been down to the quality of youth development and will continue to do so in the future.
The club are partnered with the York Eagles who bring up young players through the local age group leagues, until they are eventually given the chance to prove their selves in the senior Vikings team.
We are in the fourth division and we expect to be right up there in Division three and Division two.
We expect our young kids to come through and progress through the ranks, so the future is looking good.
Our youth program is really good. We have something like 128 youth players so without a doubt, we will progress.
– Richard Weeks