Teesside Lions u14 squad enjoyed a big win on Saturday and justified their ‘project’ season last year with positive signs and results already this season. The project last season for a team of players, none of whom had experienced structured league basketball, let alone National League, was to develop and one year on, develop they most certainly have.

A 34pts victory over Rotherham Hawks along with a recent 6pt loss to Mohawks has shown the dramatic improvements the team has made. The Mohawks result in particular was a reverse of a near 100pt loss last season, with much more to come from a team now realising they are on the same level as some strong and established teams.

There was a concern that it would be difficult to replace the influential Kody Durance, Worthee Ikah & season MVP Josh Hegarty, but new leaders have emerged with Charlie McKenna and Ben Grimes showing composure beyond their years.

In addition to this, two players from last season in Max Smithson and Freddie Williams are now very dominant contributors having played a bit part role last year. Their improvement is nothing short of remarkable and the trend is similar throughout the squad. The competition for places is healthy and the team train up to five times per week, an opportunity the club is proud to provide.

“There were a lot of tough times last season. Myself and the other coaches were aware of what was likely to happen and we prepared the players and parents for some heavy defeats. Having our own achievable targets within games helped us align our focus and concentrate on our project, and the results are speaking for themselves.

“We train more than most clubs in the country and without blowing our own trumpet, we strongly believe in the quality of our training. We are now beginning to bear the fruit of a year’s hard work and while we won’t win every game, we will enjoy every positive result all the more, fully aware of where we have come from.” Added Coach James Thomson.

In amongst the group are some more fresh faces with Jacob Rush, Jack Westgarth-Graham and Jake Lopez joining the team. Rush in particular has impressed and was joint top scorer with 17pts against Rotherham Hawks. With so much promise and even more to come from Jayden Fisher, Harrison McDonnell, Thomas Bilton and Harvey Turner the future is not just bright, its blinding!

With so many members, the club decided to enter a second U14 team which is effectively the u12s into the U14 Regional League and a girls team into the Durham U14 League. Both teams will endure a tough project, but safe in the knowledge that the light at the end of the tunnel will glow just as bright for them.