School stars suffer semi-final heartbreak in search for basketball glory

Marshland High School in Junior NBA tournament

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Basketball stars at a secondary school suffered semi-final heartbreak as they missed out on a shot at national glory. 

Year seven and eight pupils at Marshland High School triumphed in the West Norfolk District Tournament. 

They advanced to the Eastern Conference semi-finals of the Junior National Basketball Association (Jr NBA) after winning all eight of their group games. 

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

The tournament, organised by England Basketball, used the same format as played by the NBA in the USA with each school representing one of the 30 NBA teams and wearing its colours. 

In their first game, the year seven side named Boston Celtics beat the New York Knicks, or Springwood High School from King’s Lynn. 

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

That preceded victories over the Toronto Raptors (Wymondham High Academy), the Philadelphia 76ers (Thomas Clarkson Academy) and the Brooklyn Nets (King Edward VII Academy) on their way to the last four. 

But they succumbed to a strong St Thomas More High School outfit, representing the Charlotte Hornets, as the Southend team controlled the contest to win 103-22. 

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Dovydas Vaitiekunas top scored for Marshland High with 16 points while Kevinas Lekstutis also shone, leaving teacher Dominic Stannard feeling a sense of pride. 

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Mr Stannard said: "The score reflected the difference between the two teams, but it was a brilliant opportunity to play against a team so good, and really showed our boys the next level." 

Marshland High’s year eight team had a spotless run to the semi-finals, winning all of their matches en-route to their clash with Westley Middle School from Bury St Edmunds. 

But the squad, playing as the Brooklyn Nets, failed to capitalise on a perfect run-up to the game as they were beaten 44-11. 

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High School in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Josh Jones, Harry Laver and Dovydas Vaitiekunas were named as players of the match for Marshland, in what was described as a tough match. 

“It was a massive challenge,” Mr Stannard said. 

“Westley were a brilliant team. However, our boys never gave up and showed resilience and perseverance." 

"We want to thank England Basketball for facilitating the Jr NBA and inspiring so many youngsters to experience the sport for the first time.” 

Marshland High School in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography

Marshland High in Junior NBA League

Marshland High School in action in the Junior National Basketball Association League. - Credit: Ian Burt Photography