Basketball: Youngsters will benefit from their Force bows

Matt Newby.
Matt Newby.
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Leeds Force might be fighting a losing battle trying to compete with the big boys night after night.

But the young local lads coming through the ranks suggest the future may be a little brighter.

The BBL inductees are made up of predominently British rookies and European and US imports.

But last Friday night in a heavy defeat to high-flying Newcastle Eagles, they were able to show their followers that there is a crop of young, homegrown talent ready to emerge.

Two local teenagers Oliver England of Leeds and James Banton of Bradford stepped off the bench for the final minutes of the loss to the current league leaders.

The two play regularly for the Force’s Division Three men’s senior team and also for the club’s academy programme, in the elite academies league.

“The idea was to see how they would contribute,” Force player and director of operations Oliver Hylands. “I think the pace of the game took them a little by surprise but they handled themselves well in that environment.

“It’s not great losing senior players but the flip side is it gives opportunities to the younger guys we’re developing in the academy.”

Leeds were inducted into the elite BBL this year on the strength of their community programme.

For director of basketball Matt Newby, their elevation is confirmation that the club is moving in the right direction.

Newby added: “We are very, very happy with what we saw.

“It’s a little reward for those guys for the hard work they’ve been putting in in the academy team.

“We hope to have the chance to see them in the BBL again and that they can continue to develop with the system.”

Two further Leeds Force youngsters will represent England against some of the best youth teams from across the European club scene at the Haris Memorial Tournament in Manchester next year.

Leeds lad Danny Evans – who played for the senior team last year and regularly plays for the club’s academy team – will represent England’s Under-18s.

And Force junior Micah Savery-Richards will play for the national Under-16s team. The BBL seniors face a daunting trip to Worcester Wolves on Sunday as they look for their first away win of the season.