British Wheelchair Basketball: Steelers vs. OWLS Statement

On Sunday, the top two teams in the British Premier League clashed. The OWLS, who went to this game as arguably the underdogs picked up a two-point win over the Sheffield Steelers, who suffered their first Premier League loss in almost two years.

However, despite the loss, Steelers still finished top of the league for the second consecutive year as the beat OWLS by six points earlier in the season.

Laurie Williams and Mark Scholefield both gave statements about the game:

OWLS player and GB women’s team member, Laurie Williams said:

“We knew it would be a challenging game for us, having lost to them earlier in the season. Steelers having a lot of talented GB players on their team. However, we were determined to come out hard and take the game from them. The first half was fast and physical with both teams racking up points on the board. Foul trouble put us in a difficult position in the third quarter which led to Steelers capitalising on some of our mistakes.”

“However, we managed to come back from a 16-point deficit and win the game by two points. It showed the tenacity and perseverance of The OWLS. We played a team game and trusted our system. Ultimately this helped us get the win.”

Steelers captain and former GB U22 Men’s European champion, Mark Scholefield said:

“We had this game circled on our calendar for a long time, not just because it marks the end of our British League season. Steelers vs OWLS is always a great game, league games don’t get any bigger than when we face off with the Premier League title on the line.”

“I think that it was tough to call which team was the favourite coming in. You could have said that our 68-62 win over them in October gave us the slight edge, but that was a game where both teams were missing key players due to injury, and therefore didn’t do much for implications going forward.”

“As usual, once the opening tip went up, none of that really mattered. It was clear from very early on how well prepared for each other both teams were. We did everything we could to clutter and rush their half-court offense, while they put all their defensive attention into stopping us from getting out in transition. As you’d expect with two teams as equal as this, the game featured big scoring runs from both teams and more than a couple of stretches where we played each other to a standstill.”

“We both battled foul-trouble at different points and it definitely had an effect on our rotations. We made our run late in the third quarter when they had to take Jack Perry out of the game, this gave us a 50-40 lead going into the fourth.”

“Oldham went back to their preferred unit, but we managed to hold them at bay initially and get the lead up to 14. At that point, Oldham’s score run started and we had a poor stretch of basketball. It didn’t go our way for the final five minutes of the game, and the OWLS repeatedly made huge shots. An and-1 by Jack Perry gave them the lead with 17 seconds left and we weren’t able to score on our next possession, giving them the win, 64-6

“This was our last league game of the season, this result still secured us the Premier League Title, due to the head-to-head points difference from our two results against the OWLS. That said, closing the season with a loss on your home floor is always going to sting.”

“While it wasn’t the result we wanted, we don’t have any option but to regroup as quickly as we can and get ready for the EuroLeague 1 Finals. It’s only a couple of weeks at this point, the spirit of the team is still positive, we know what we need to do differently if we want to win games.”

“After winning so many games over the last couple of seasons, this loss has effectively left us with a blank slate and it’s up to us to decide how we bounce back. I believe in every one of our guys, we have no reason to doubt our resilience.”

Knowing the results of their two previous bouts will make their epic encounter at the 2019 National Championships in May even more anticipated. Presuming they both make it to the final of course.

Rollt. would like to thank Laurie Williams and Mark Scholefield for their statements.

Text: Dylan Cummings | Photo: The OWLS Disabled Sports Club

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