IT was a busy bank holiday weekend for the Warwickshire Bears Wheelchair Basketball Club.
On Saturday, the Bears hosted a friendly game against Shropshire Warriors in remembrance of Luke Parker, a former player for both the Bears and Shropshire Warriors.
Many former team-mates and friends of Luke came to pay their respects, a year after he lost his brave battle against cancer.
The following day, the Bears travelled to Swindon to play Swindon Shock, the team they lost to in last season’s national play-off final.
Warwickshire took a strong team with them and from the tip-off were hungry to play, following a lengthy lay-off from competitive games.
The first quarter was a slow start for the Bears who, although getting good shots at Shock’s basket, couldn’t seem to convert the shots. Shock took full advantage of Bears’ slow start and used their fast break game effectively to get into an early lead.
The Bears suddenly kicked their slow start and turned the game around, with Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Jacob Robinson on a scoring spree that took the Bears into a comfortable 21-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was again all about the Bears’ offence as they pulled further in front and limit Shocks’ main threat Macauley Tomlinson to distant shots.
Bears’ Dan Gill had a MVP game and Derek Hall found his range at the basket. The Bears went in at half-time with a healthy 41-23 lead.
The second half saw the Bears use their strong bench and, with all players hungry after a long absence from competitive games, all came on and got on the scoresheet, with the game finishing 76-45.
Bears’ coach, Tom Masterston, said: “Although Swindon were unfortunate to be missing some of their team, they were still a threat with Macauley Tomlinson playing, but I think the team managed him well whilst taking full advantage of their opportunities.”
Meanwhile, the Bears’ women’s team were invited to showcase wheelchair basketball in the Wasps’ fan village at the Ricoh Arena on Monday, prior to Wasps Netball’s game against Severn Stars.
Bears’ coach, Jacob Robinson, said: “Being an affiliate club to Wasps is a great opportunity not only for our ladies team, but for the club as a whole.
“To be able to get our club and our sport in the mainstream media is invaluable.”