Last month the newly-reformed community basketball team, the Brunel Ducks, celebrated two home victories in a national league, playing both winning games here at Brunel.
The Ducks, a local, community driven Basketball Association team, plays in the national division 4, and utilises both Brunel players and sportsmen from the local community. The team was shut down in the 1980s but has this year been resurrected, with the help of University funding to compete on a national scale.
The first two home games of the year for Brunel Ducks took place on Saturday 4th October versus the Folkestone Saints, and a cup match on Sunday 11th October versus Crawley Utd.
On 4th October fans from the local community and from Brunel filled the Netball Hall to capacity with 228 spectators, including an appearance from the Brunel Blizzards Pom Squad, to watch the Ducks' first game in over 20 years. After a largely disappointing first half against the Folkestone Saints, Ducks were down 9-20 at the end of the first quarter. A massive 17 points scored in the second quarter helped keep hope alive for the Ducks, with fantastic baskets from Prince Lartey and an incredible performance from Benji Lawmann.
After a nail-bitingly tense second half, the game went down to a wire with Ducks and Saints neck-and-neck for much of the final quarter, until in the final few minutes Ducks pulled ahead to win the match 79-74, to the absolute delight of the packed-out bleachers.
Top scorers for the Ducks were Prince Lartey (22), Leon Bennett Harris (20) and Benji Lawmann (20). The atmosphere in the hall remained electric for the entirety of the game, with a true American feel to the evening helped along by a hotdog/popcorn stand, music and a half-time basket competition for the younger spectators. After the match a number of the Ducks were seen signing autographs for their young fans.
Ducks Coach Pete Deppisch said of the match: "We had a sloppy start due to not having much time to train as a team. Despite starting very slow we managed to bring it back in the second half as the defence picked up to hold off a late run by Folkestone. Overall a fantastic first game for the Ducks!"
The Ducks' second match, a cup match, took place against Crawley Utd on Sunday 11th October. After a tense first victory the previous week spectators weren't left disappointed with another nail-biting match that saw the Ducks down by at least a couple of points in most of the first and second quarters. By half time Ducks were down 46-45, but managed to drag back a 6 point lead going into the fourth.
A show of teamwork and amazing sportsmanship in the final quarter saw basket after basket, with multiple three-pointers which meant Crawley United couldn't catch a break, getting repeatedly shut down and intercepted by a strong Ducks defence. An amazing slam dunk from Joel Henry (pictured) clinched the game for the home side, and to the delight of the crowd Ducks finished the game victorious with a 96-82 lead.
Noel Kinrade, one of the Ducks' team coaches commented: “It is still early days. The team has been assembled over the past two weeks and we have had more games than trainings which doesn't help. Once the team chemistry is developed we will be a very competitive team. Outside of the team, it was great to see so much support from the community. The atmosphere was amazing and we hope it continues throughout our first season.”