Oliver Hylands: Hall’s haul highlight of improved display

Will Hall
Will Hall
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Despite a huge game from former Great Britain Under-20s player Will Hall, Leeds Force were unable to overcome the high-flying Cheshire Phoenix last Friday night.

Hall managed a haul of 23 points and 15 rebounds in the contest.

The game, which was dominated by defence, at least proved Leeds’ progression throughout the season.

For Cheshire, 65 points is their lowest points total since their first game of the season, which just emphasises the job we did in shutting them down.

Due to our current captain Armand Anebo being out with injury last Friday, I was handed the honours for the first time.

In front of an improved crowd and with the YEP’s own Nick Westby looking on, I knew I had to personally put on a good performance or I would never hear the end of it.

Thankfully, it looks like I managed to do just enough to keep my new columnist job:

“Basket for @LeedsNews columnist Oli @Hylands22 not only brings @forcebball to within 2 at 14-12 but also ensures he keep his new job #theBBL” tweeted Nick.

Good job, because I’m enjoying this new role.

During the game I had another new experience. For the first time since starting basketball at 16-years-old I was made to feel extremely small.

Standing at 6ft 7, feeling small has never really been an issue for me, however, matching up with someone over a foot taller than me was rather surreal.

Cheshire boasted Paul Sturgess in their line-up, a man who at 7ft 7.26in is the tallest professional basketball player in the world.

And I don’t think it was until the game was over and I had a chance to look at some of the game photos that our club photographer, Chris Midgley, had taken, that I realised just how tall 7ft 7in is.

Once the game was done, it was time to unwind at the ESH annual dinner, hosted by our sponsors.

With all the anticipation going into the evening, I can safely say that it did not disappoint.

With any excuse for me to get my suit on, this Hollywood-themed night was no exception. From the grand red carpet entrance to the replica Hollywood sign, this night had everything and was the perfect way to recharge our batteries ready for what is set to be a huge week.

After a perfect start to 2015 with our first win away from home at Sheffield (60-62 on January 2), this week brings the final game of three in the Yorkshire derby series.

Currently tied at 1-1 this season, it is winner takes all this Friday at the University of Huddersfield (7.30pm tip-off) for Yorkshire bragging rights.

It seems only fitting that the decider in this series is going to be played at a neutral venue in Huddersfield and what a venue it is.

With seating capacity of over 1,000 people, greater than our usual home venue at the Sports Arena at the Headingley Campus of Leeds Beckett University, the brand new arena is quite a facility.

I have already had the chance to play there in an exhibition game earlier this season and not only is the court a fantastic place, but the fans that came out to support were tremendous, too.

With seating on both sides of the court, the constant wall of noise throughout the game provided an amazing atmosphere. I hope to see everyone there.

Sitting six places above Leeds Force in the league and having put some incredible performances in since the last meeting, Sharks are odds-on favourites to take this Friday’s game.

But as most sports fans know, a derby rarely follows the form book and this one shows no sign of breaking that tradition.

Someone who will have that extra little bit of motivation going into Friday’s game will be Sheffield-born Hall.

After a fine return to form last week, Hall will be hoping to put in a repeat performance against the club where he developed his skills as a youth player.

Currently averaging just over 15 points a game this season and leading the team in that category, Hall is one to watch.

But it should be an absolutely cracking game.

I hope to see you there, and hopefully I have a win to report on next Tuesday.