The Varsity Basketball tournament reached the last round of action on Saturday at Wits Sports Hall with places in the final coming down to the final match.
TUKS CLAIM FIRST FINAL PLACE
Tuks, who were one of four teams in the running for a spot in the final, made life easier for themselves by comfortably beating the struggling 2018 runner-sup UCT 81-65. They then awaited the outcome of the game between Wits and VUT, who were due to play the last game of the day, with VUT only needing a win to go through, whilst Wits needed to win by more than 10 points.
UWC BREAK THEIR DUCK
In the interim, Varsity Basketball newbies UWC and NWU met in a battle of pride between. UWC were the only team who had yet to win a match while NWU had surprised both UKZN and UCT already. As it happened, the boys from the Cape seemed much more motivated and duly claimed a 72-54 victory.
UJ-UKZN DELIVERS A SEE-SAW BATTLE
Thereafter, UJ and UKZN met in what was a repeat of the USSA final from July – which the Orange Army had comfortable won 69-41. This time around, a possible place in the Varsity Basketball final was still up for grabs for either team and the play highlighted this.
UKZN came out of the change-rooms with determination and got the better of the first quarter to lead 16-11. The coastal boys did enough to edge the second quarter too to lead 28-22 at the half-time break. It was all change during the ‘champions quarter’, however, as UJ roared back claim the lead for the first time… 43-39. The UKZN resistance seemed to have crumbled as the locals coasted home to all but seal their final place with a 57-47 win.
All that was left was to see if either Wits or VUT could sneak past UJ with a comprehensive victory.
WITS VS VUT A WORTHY ROUND-ROBIN FINALE
Inevitably, a tight affair ensued, and the first quarter ended with Wits leading 19-15. VUT then swung the clash in their favour to lead 27-25 at half-time. Both teams knew that they would need a blow-out quarter to stand any chance of reaching Sunday’s final…
VUT seemed to make the decisive move in the third quarter by claiming it 20 points to 11 to go into the final period 45-38 up. However, buoyed by the home support and determined to end their title defence with a high, Wits overturned the deficit. They dominated the final quarter – winning it by ten points – and with it took the win 68-65.
It wasn’t enough to make the final, as they missed out by 11 points and finished third, but at least the only teams to beat them were the finalists.
Sunday will see the women’s final between the undefeated NWU and VUT getting underway at 12:00. The men’s final game will see a new champion being crowned, with UJ and Tuks taking centre stage at 14.30. All Varsity Basketball games will be played out the Wits Sports Hall, with the live action also being televised on SuperSport.
By S’fiso Nyawo