Horsham Hawks under-13s have won their second piece of silverware this year after an incredible come-from-behind 61-59 victory over the Crawley Cagers in the Sussex Cup final in Brighton.
This was Horsham’s third successive appearance in the finals and after two defeats in as many years, the Hawks were determined to secure a different outcome on this occasion.
Josh Lea-Clayton helped them to victory and in doing so was named the most valuable player with a game high 27 points, while Fin Bennett’s last-minute basket saw them snatch the victory.
Head coach David Clayton said: “I am so proud of this team for never giving up. Even when we were down by five points and 40 seconds remaining the team were focussed and determined to keep going.
“It’s hard to beat a team that never gives up as they showed.”
As the game began it was Crawley who opened up an early 12-6 advantage as they exploited their significant height advantage to finish accurately under the hoop.
Amy and Charlotte Willcox and Meghan Stevens tightened up the Hawks defence, while Lea-Clayton scored nine of the next 14 points to close the Crawley lead to 32-26 at the half.
Horsham were quick out of the gates in the third quarter with an explosive 17-4 run which included back-to-back three-point baskets from Antonio Lozzi as the Hawks edged ahead 45-40.
Both teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter before Crawley went on a significant 13-3 run despite scores from Josh Tavolieri and Harry Rose. A Cagers basket with 40 seconds remaining put Crawley ahead 59-54 as the Horsham Hawks called a time-out.
With time running down and Horsham needing at least three scores in 40 seconds, Lea-Clayton drained a long three-point shot to cut the deficit to two points.
Lea-Clayton stole the ball and tied the game at 59-59 with 14 seconds remaining. Crawley narrowly missed retaking the lead before Bennett secured the missed shot and was fouled with 4.5 seconds remaining.
He calmly and confidently sank both free throws giving Horsham a two-point lead to win their first-ever cup final.
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