Kings Juniors qualify for Elite 8s competition with two huge wins

The Thames Valley Kings Junior League team celebrated qualifying for Elite 8s in style with two huge wins against Hampshire Hornets and Tornados in Eastleigh at the weekend. The Kings took the court knowing that only two wins in the final group of matches would absolutely guarantee a place at the Elite 8s competition. 

In the first match of the day, against Hampshire Hornets - Kings went out onto the floor and started with a strong first quarter, with baskets from Liam Barker, Corey Bloomfield, Dan Smith and Joel Clifton. Kings taking it 14-2. Kings continued to add to their tally with further baskets from Oscar Knight, Clifton, Bloomfield and L.Barker and great defensive work from Owen Pither causing the Hornets headaches on offense to leave the game at the halftime break, 28-8 to Kings. 

Hornets return to the floor with fighting spirit but their baskets wouldn't drop as Kings continued to find the net with Smith, Bloomfield, L.Barker and Wes Newman adding more for the Kings tally. with the Quarter ending 42-10 Hornets. With just 10 minutes of game time left, Hornets continued to show great character as they never gave up as Kings scored further baskets from Reece Barker, Knight, Clifton, and Bloomfield. 

Final score - Kings 64 - 13 Hornets. 

In the second game of the day – Kings took to the floor with determination as underdogs against a Tornados side also fighting for qualification, Reece Barker won the tip and was first to open up the scoring, followed by younger brother, Liam, with Kings putting the pressure on Tornados the entire quarter.  Kings edging the first quarter, 14 - 5. The second quarter was almost a repeat of the first with Tornados adding another 5 to their tally and Kings adding 13 with  R. Barker, Smith and Knight all finding the net. The halftime score, Kings leading 27-10. 

A change in tactics saw a more even 3rd quarter for both teams with Tornados finally finding the net that had alluded them in the first half scoring 10 points but was again outclassed by the Kings who added 17. Taking the game to 44-20. With a place in the Elite 8s at stake, both teams continued to battle with end-to-end play for the entire final quarter of the game with Tornadoes scoring 12 points to Kings 13, Kings tally was topped up by Newman, Knight, R. Barker, and Smith.

Final Score - Kings 57-32  Tornados . 

The 3rd match of the day saw Tornados beat Hampshire Hornets 70-22. 

Coach Grant Barker stated after the game - "Everyone played amazingly in both games and to finish top of our pool was a massive achievement for such a young squad. They have played fantastic all season and we look forward to the Elite 8s". 

The Juniors will now look forward to the Elite 8 competition on 21st April where the top eight junior teams in the country will compete for a place in the final itself which will be hosted as part of the prestigious National Championships on the weekend of 26th-27th May.

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