From the very beginning the Tayside Musketeers’ cadet men fixture against Highland Bears last Saturday was destined to be an engrossing fixture.
The last meeting of the two basketball sides saw a last second basket for the Musketeers denied in overtime. Hence, the excitement which surrounded this fixture.
The excitement obviously fuelled the Musketeers’ early play, going into a 10 point lead. An excellent start to the game by Chris Thomson helped the team keep the intense play controlled, and allowed the cadets to maximise their effort. This was a total team quarter as each of the starting five scored, leading to a 21-13 lead to finish the quarter.
Keeping the lead would be a big challenge; Highland played excellent defence and made it tough for the Musketeers to score. With such stingy defence on both sides it was no surprise that this was a low scoring quarter at 7-6, again the Musketeers winning the quarter to come out on top 28-19.
Many people associated with basketball say that the third quarter can be a game changer and where games are won and lost. This third quarter certainly was a game changer. Highland came out of the stalls quickly, and soon tore into the Musketeers lead, using their fast break to get quick and easy baskets. Gavin Thomson put in a great stretch of tough play in this quarter, and the Musketeers were lucky that the whole game did not disappear, regaining some composure in the last few minutes, going into the fourth quarter down 34-38.
The excitement at the start of this game was now felt again going into an adrenaline filled final quarter. The cadets had to show what they lacked at stages earlier during the season, toughness, and they responded in spectacular fashion. Being down four points, Ross Walker hit a big three point shot, keeping the team within touching distance. Chris Thomson then stepped up to hit another big three point shot. Close to the basket Noah Smith used his size to grab rebounds and score or get fouled. This spurt was enough to push the Musketeers ahead with two minutes to go. Highland then desperately fouled to get possession back, putting the Musketeers to the free throw line. With seconds left Highland hit a three point shot narrowing the lead by three. Ross Walker was then fouled and sent to the free throw line, hitting one of two, to give the Musketeers a four point lead at 57-53. This left Highland with one shot which they could not convert a score, leaving the Musketeers with the victory.
In terms of displays the four quarter was the cadets best of the season, it was exactly what the coaching staff have been looking for, showing the toughness and character to come back from a deficit. The strides the cadets have made since September simply can not be understated.
Scorers: Ross Walker 19, Noah Smith 12, Chris Thomson 9, Ewan Laing 6, Gavin Thomson 5, Craig Knight 3, Ross F Walker 2.