On that Saturday evening, sombre clouds, the buzz of the day’s games had settled into restlessness as the last games of the day began, including Men’s Basketball, second team. Both teams filed onto the court for warmups, Lancaster’s coach bringing the team in for many a huddle, chant and speech that I had heard ringing through the changing room doors into the hallway as I walked past.
The first quarter began with Lancaster stealing the ball out the air in the toss-up, it didn’t go so well for Lancaster for the rest of the first half. York dominated Lancaster; it looked like a sure-fire win for the white roses. Lancaster trailing behind, especially struggling as York snatch the ball with repeated defensive rebounds after Lancaster miss their shots to even the scoreboard. The first quarter saw lots of miscommunication on both sides, teams passing the ball to what I can only presume was the crowd and even the opposition.
Josh Mirchiz, playing for York, drove the ball up the court as York’s solid defence kept Lancaster’s rebound shots out of the net. Tensions rose as Lancaster coach Yankho Songwe frustratedly calls time out with the score at 35 – 28 in the second quarter.
While York’s defence kept Lancaster behind, perhaps overly defensive, York racked up fouls. The second half of the game saw a change in Lancaster’s fortune as they steadily crept up, matching York’s every hoop. The score went from 47 – 47 to 51 – 51. More three pointers were scored and suddenly York were under immense pressure to get ahead of the game. The coach for York attributed this to a lack of stamina “I think at the end we were a little bit tired inside […] we could see that our fitness wasn’t quite there”.
Finally with one minute left on the clock, with the teams neck-and-neck, a time out is called. Lancaster’s coach, Songwe, brought the team into a huddle and “reminded them of who they are and what they are capable of”, and made the assertion that they need to play to their strengths, the “little bits of things that are gonna add up to the win. And I had to make sure we got those rebounds, you know, we got those steals.”
York, in the tense last minute, necks craned towards the court, people half-sitting, half-standing on the bleachers, were overtaken by Lancaster with three pointer after three-pointer. York’s play was too tired to defend those shots. Lancaster won, 52 – 57. In those crucial last seconds, York had made their way up to the net but missed each essential shot, with strangled cheers from the crowd.
A deflated captain of the York team congratulated Lancaster, “they played really well”. Crowds of red congregated on the court while Lancaster got their team photo as York supporters filed out for the next day of games.