"The Last Blog - The End of the Raiders"
Wrexham Raiders v Hope Lions
Welsh Basketball League
With Wrexham Raiders set to fold after after tonight following its financial problems, this was to be our last ever game together as a team... I don't remember ever wanting to win so badly.
We had the bare minimum five players compared to their full bench and while we got off to a good lead, we eventually tired and they pulled us back, going ahead at the half way point. We rallied in the third quarter then one of our guys injured his ankle, but stayed on to help out in defence.
Our tiny lead gradually began to evaporate as we moved into the last few minutes... each time one of their side fouled there was a huge relief as we got a quick breather. Looking at the others with a few minutes to go, I could see how much I wanted to win reflected straight back at me in their faces... we were only two points behind!... that was the last time I dared look at the scoreboard.
With the last few seconds counting down I got free on the right side of the court. A long and perfect pass from James our pointguard came straight to my hands at the half way line. (...Five... Four...) I steadied and took aim (..three... two...) up went the shot.... (..one...zero...)
It's funny how time slows down when you're waiting for something to happen. Like everyone else I was watching the ball sailing slowly through the air. For ages I was still thinking about the shot... you always wonder what taking those last second shots would feel like when you see them on TV, but you're never quite sure... As the ball eventually arced and started downwards though, all I cared about was where it was going to land...
'it's on target... the length looks good... flippin' eck it's going to go in!!'.... bang!.. the ball clips the back edge of the rim and bounces out.
It was absolutely silent. I didn't know how many points we had been behind, but I couldn't bear to look at the scoreboard... From half court it would have been a huge three pointer and the thought that we might have missed out on the win by one or two points was unbearable.
It wouldn't have mattered. In the end we were four points behind... but that didn't make me feel much better. We'd lost games before, but this was different. We'd lasted out a season, no-one thought we would complete and in our last game we'd finally produced a performance we were proud of... Everything, from the look on the others' faces to the blood soaking into my socks told me we'd done all we could... everyone had performed and even I had put up my best numbers of the season with 12 points, but it just hadn't been enough...
It's not all bad though. We finished third in the league and having been 45th in the rankings for scoring early on, I ended up 27th which was much higher than I expected.
Of the five of us left standing at the end of the season, our two juniors have been picked up by a national league side's academy which is great, and ironically this last game had been against the team who picked up the option of our registrations for next season. After the game they confirmed they wanted the rest of us to join them next season, which was a big relief and a nice way to finish.
Thanks for letting me bore you guys all season, and thanks too for the support... (one last time) Go Raiders!
Many thanks to sponsors Wynnstay Hotel and Oswestry & District Sports Council