Haringey boys’ and girls’ basketball teams both made it through to the Balfour Beatty London Youth Games finals.
They guaranteed their places in the final four at the National Sports Centre, Crystal Palace on July 6 after emerging from a highly competitive weekend of qualifying rounds at UEL Sportsdock in Newham featuring boroughs from right across London.
The London Youth Games basketball features some of the UK’s most talented youngsters. Chicago Bulls NBA All-Star Luol Deng, Team GB captain Drew Sullivan and GB ladies internationals Azania Stewart and Temi Fagbenle have all competed at the event before making it to the top level.
Saturday’s girls’ qualifiers saw Haringey overcome Waltham Forest, Wandsworth and Hillingdon in the group phase to set up a quarter-final clash with Enfield.
It was a close affair, but they edged through to Crystal Palace 13-11. In the finals, they have been drawn to face Lewisham.
The other semi-final features Newham against defending champions Southwark. Haringey won the London Youth Games basketball title ten year in a row until 2011, when Southwark took their crown and defended the title again last year.
Mikela Hall-Ramsay played for Haringey at the start of their decade of dominance and is their team manager.
She said: “Their coaches do an excellent job with the girls. So it’s an easy bunch to have. It’s all about making sure they keep on track and do what their job is on the court.”
In Sunday’s boys’ competition Haringey topped their group, beating 2011 champions Lewisham, Brent and Redbridge.
The team were then drawn to face an imposing Lambeth team in the quarter-finals. The defending champions had racked up an impressive 141 point in their group, conceding a mere 12 points.
But it was Haringey who held their nerve and after a titanic struggle they triumphed 20-19. In the semis they have been drawn to face Newham. The winners will meet the winners of Sutton and Islingtonton decide the 2013 champions. Haringey boys’ team manager Nicky Distras said: “We needed a bit of luck on our side. But the boys played well and they played hard and I’m really proud of them.
“Lambeth are tough opposition, we knew it would be tough. But the best team won. It was all about working hard on defence.
“We made it last year to the finals, but we came third. It means everything to the guys to be going back to Crystal Palace.
“This year we are aiming for a win to bring something back to the borough. Anything is possible.”
To find out more and to get involved, visit www.londonyouthgames.org.