Mavericks wrap up the league title in style

Mavericks' inspirational captain Andy Sanderson drives towards the Benfield Lions basket.'Photo by Beth Kennett
Mavericks' inspirational captain Andy Sanderson drives towards the Benfield Lions basket.'Photo by Beth Kennett

MORPETH Mavericks sealed the Tynemet Basketball League division two title in style.

Two wins in the space of 36 hours over the weekend ensured they took the league crown as they extended their winning run to 12 games.

And with Morpeth’s other team the Magic having clinched the division three Knockout Cup earlier in the season, it means the club’s 15th season has been an unforgettable one.

The Mavericks clinched the league title on Friday night with a comprehensive 87-54 win away to Oxclose Cougars.

They went into the game knowing that they had to win one of their three remaining fixtures to pip All Saints Sabres for the league crown.

And it was fitting that they should wrap up the title on the court where Morpeth won their first ever league game 14 years ago after had they failed to win a single game in their first season in the league.

Friday’s win was especially significant for coach Paul New and captain Andy Sanderson, the only survivors of that first-ever win.

Although Oxclose briefly threatened to make a game of it early on, a 12-2 run towards the end of the first quarter saw Morpeth take control, with their hustling defence providing the platform for some fast and fluent offensive play.

Spurred on by the inspirational Sanderson, who never let his team-mates take their foot off the gas, the gap had stretched to 17 by half-time.

That margin settled any nerves the Mavs may have had, given what was at stake, and the second half followed a similar pattern as Morpeth pulled away from the home side.

While it would be wrong to single out players after what was a complete team performance at both ends of the court, mention went to Andy Gibbison, voted MVP by the opposition, and Matt Davison, who combined to score 53 of the Mavs’ 87 points and drained five three-pointers between them.

Two days later the Mavericks juggernaut thundered on as they flattened Benfield Lions 91-59, a result which means Morpeth have completed their home programme unbeaten.

The Lions were more like rabbits caught in the headlights in the first quarter as Morpeth went on the rampage to, quite incredibly, score 28 points in the first nine minutes while restricting their visitors to just one basket in reply.

With the Mavs leading 30-6 at the end of the first quarter, there seemed no way back for Benfield. And so it proved as Morpeth twisted the knife.

Leading by 31 at the break, a flurry of four three-pointers in the third saw the Mavs lead by as many as 44 before they eventually took their foot off the gas.

The Lions actually won the fourth quarter 20-12, but by that time it was all over bar the shouting as the Mavericks were content to savour another landmark achievement in an unfortgettable season.

Once again the big men owned the paint at both ends of the court and their hustle provided the platform for Morpeth’s sharpshooters to pick off the opposition.

Yet again Gibbison led all scorers with 31, while Sanderson scored 18, and 12 of Davison’s 15 points came from behind the three-point line.

Scorers v Oxclose: Gibbison 33, Davison 20, Bayazit 11, Mavin and Sanderson 8, Thistlethwaite 6, Clewes 2; v Lions: Gibbison 31, Sanderson, 18, Davison 15, Bayazit 11, Mavin 9, Thompson 3, Smiles and Clewes 2.