Preston’s College basketball team made history as they secured their first ever Basketball England North West Conference title on the back of their performance against Myerscough College.
Despite losing the last game of the regular season in overtime on Tuesday night, the margin of victory for Myerscough – 104-98 – was sufficient for Preston to win by a differential of plus-three.
That was because Preston had won the duel between the sides four days earlier by nine points, 76-67.
England Under-18 standout Kyle Carey led the way with a personal haul of 26 points with Moses Byekwaso adding 24 and Melkisedek Moreaux with 15.
On Tuesday, the hosts started off confidently as they set about reducing the arrears and immediately started scoring at will.
Preston looked shell-shocked from the outset and took some time to settle into any kind of rhythm, by which time Myerscough had built a sizeable lead.
At the end of the first quarter, the home side led 33-18.
And as the second quarter started there was no sign of Myerscough letting up the pressure as Preston missed numerous chances to get back in the game.
At the end of the half. Preston did make some inroads into the deficit and only trailed by seven.
“I think Myerscough came out hitting every shot,” said Preston coach Malcolm Leak.
“But as the game went on and we settled down, I told our guys to keep the game within arm’s reach.”
Try as they might, Preston could not contain the striking duo of Alex Roberts and Ky Elly who, at times, made it look all too easy in the third quarter.
Deficits of 14 and then 11 meant Preston could not get over the hump and make it a single-digit game.
But as the fourth quarter got going the team’s new-found confidence and sheer defensive intensity proved dividends.
Preston’s first lead of the game came with little less than 60 seconds of the game remaining when Courtney Grant-Allen hit a shot to give them an 88-87 lead.
However, a contentious decision by the referee allowed Alex Roberts’ three-point shot to stand giving his side the lead, with less than 17 seconds of the contest remaining.
Rattled but not perturbed, Preston worked the ball inside and found Moses Byekwaso, who was fouled by Myerscough’s captain Kieran Skeffington.
He calmly knocked down both foul shots and, just as the game four days earlier, this game too went into overtime.
In the overtime period the hosts outscored the visitors 14-8 and held on for a 104-98 overtime win, which proved in vain as Preston held on to win the title on basket differential.
“I am proud of my team and the performance because we played together and fought back after a 15 point deficit,” said ace Melkisedek Moreaux who has been the scoring leader on the team with an average of just under 22 points per game in the Under-18s conference.
“I am very proud of our point guard Jonathan because he led us in the first half and stepped up his game. We struggled on the defensive end but our offense kept us alive in that battle. I’m happy that we’ve won a championship and hopefully there are many more to come.”
Leak was equally as impressed with the performance. “It was a very good game,” he said.
“That’s what rivalry games are supposed to be. Two good teams fighting for a championship.”