Emotional start to season for Warwickshire Bears

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Neil Bunting shoots.

WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL

WARWICKSHIRE Bears 3rds coach Dan Smith could not have asked for a better start, as his side opened the new campaign with a 53-28 victory away at Derby Wheelblazers on Sunday.

The game proved to be an emotional one for both teams, having met at the end of last season before the game had to be abandoned due to the tragic death of Colin Ilic, who had suffered a heart attack while playing for the Wheelblazers.

Since then both teams have become very close friends and honoured Ilic with a minute’s applause prior to their British Wheelchair Basketball League Division Three Central/South West clash.

The first quarter was a close affair, with both teams unable to make any headway.

Both the Bears and Wheelblazers were forced into numerous mistakes and turnovers, but it was the Bears who had the slight 8-7 lead at the end of the quarter.

After the break the Bears came out more determined to put the first quarter’s mistakes behind them, but were constantly thwarted by Wheelblazers’ junior star Dahnon Ward.

However, the visitors were able to build a lead, with youngsters Ellan Fraser and Kyle Jackson added to the lead.

And at the sound of the half-time buzzer, the Bears had moved into a comfortable 28-11 advantage.

With the lead built up from the previous quarter, Bears coach Smith was able to go to the bench and give some much-needed court time to the rest of the team he had brought along to the contest.

With a mixture of experience and new players, the Bears were once again able to add to the score and go into the final quarter with a commanding 40-15 lead.

Having built up such a healthy advantage, Smith was once again able to make the most of his bench and give valuable minutes to his players.

With nearly all of the team getting onto the scoresheet, the Bears were able to see out the game and record a 53-28 success.

Smith said: “After a slow start, we managed to take the win in our first game of the season.

“With a mixture of senior and junior players, we took a dominant lead to get us the win. It was a great start to the season.”

The Bears are next in action on Saturday when they make the trip to Tees Valley Titans.

The Bears, who are based in Henley, are always on the search for new members, volunteers and sponsors to help provide sporting opportunities to disabled people across the county.

For more information, call Tom Masterson on 07946 518354 or send an email to info@bearswbc.com