Wheelchair Basketballers from North Wales joined forces with the rest of Wales at the British Junior Championships to compete with the Welsh U15’s and U19s’ teams, in an action packed weekend of basketball held in Worcester.
The Welsh U15’s squad was captained by Alex Wilson and co vice-captained by Ana Blease and Kieran Jones. Alex and Kieran both play for Conwy Thunder WBC and Ana for Rhyl Raptors. Joining them on the squad were the rest of the North Wales Knights British Junior League champions, some making their debut for Wales; Callum Truchon (Anglesey Hawks), Ryan Jones (Conwy Thunder), Will Bishop (Rhyl Raptors), Rhys Evitts (Rhyl Raptors) and one of the squads reserves Keelan Ridings (Anglesey Hawks).
Along with the players came the support team, one of the best supporting groups in the UK, North Wales certainly brings passionate, enthusiastic and loud voices to every game! Driving the Welsh squad forward and encouraged by the players, the Welsh voices joined in force to cheer and chant their team through every game. The Welsh flags flew and the dragons roared, matching t-shirts meant no one could mistake who was being supported and a little song certainly brought the house down, being sung, shouted and roared so even those back home in Wales could hear.
“Oh Fluffy Sheep,
Oh Fluffy Sheep,
Oh Fluffy Sheep are Wonderful.
Because they’re Welsh, white and fluffy,
Oh Fluffy Sheep are Wonderful.
The U15’s Welsh squad, with their coaches and support team made it all the way to the final having played many incredible and hard fought games throughout the weekend. The final was to end with the Welsh side clawing back and finishing just a few points behind the eventual winners, an incredible game.
The U19’s Welsh squad also had a good lineup of North Wales players, joining forces with the rest of Wales. Conwy Thunder development coach and player Luke Ravencroft, vice-captained the squad and was joined by fellow Conwy Thunder player, Sara Miliband. Making their debut for Wales, were Anglesey Hawks’ Andy Alexandrou and Gemma Thomas as well as squad reserve Keira O’Brien.
Again, the players brought with them their supporters and joined by the lively U15’s supporters, cheered their team on during some close fought and nail biting games.
Coached by Anna Jackson and assisted by Caroline Ballard-East, the Welsh U19’s finished a solid 7th place.
At the awards ceremony, British Wheelchair Basketball awarded the “Most Improved player in U15’s” to North Wales, Kieran Jones, on his last outing with the Wales U15’s team. A massive achievement.
Elsewhere in North Wales, the WBNW Knights held their annual awards evening, celebrating all that was achieved in the past 2016/17 season.
Held at Porth Eirias on Colwyn Bay promenade, the North Wales basketball family gathered. There was a great buzz in the room, everyone catching up and reminiscing on a great season for the Knights.
With awards for each Knights team; Knights 1, Knights 2, Knights 3 and Knights U15’s as well as additional light hearted awards, the night got under way, led by Knights stats man Paul.
In each Knights squad the players chose their ‘Players Player’ award winner and the coaches, their ‘Coaches Player’ award winner. These saw players from most of the regions clubs, presented with awards. This also included returning players to the National League, as well as players making their National League debut.
Knights “Breakthrough Player of 2016/17 Season” was awarded to Ryan Hewitt, richly deserved, having had a brilliant debut season with Knights National League teams.
For the first time, the RGK North Wales League winning team, was presented with the winner’s plaque. Conwy Thunder WBC took the crown for the 2017 season, in what were 4 amazing rounds of wheelchair basketball.
Throughout the night, interspersed between the main awards, were some lighthearted awards, voted for on the night by all the players, volunteers and supporters. Awards like ‘loudest player’ which went to the loudest player in North Wales and possibly all of Wales…Rhyl Raptors Ana Blease. We had an award for ‘bossiest on court’ which went to Knights Head Coach, Mike Hayes and the ‘most accident prone’ which was awarded to me!
We also had a special award, which was given on behalf of all the supporters, volunteers and players to three individuals that have and do work so hard behind the scenes, in order for North Wales to have the amazing system in place, offering opportunities in the elite level, as well as supporting the regions clubs. We all wanted to thank Mike Hayes, Mark Richards and Sophie Vaughan for their outstanding contribution and dedication to Wheelchair Basketball North Wales.
An amazing night to truly celebrate what was a great season for Knights and to truly close the season just ahead of an exciting 2017/18 season, for everyone involved in Wheelchair Basketball North Wales.