Basketball players selected for Welsh youth teams

Basketball players at a local school have been selected for Welsh national sides after a packed summer calendar of basketball lead them all the way to a national finals.

Left to right, Ben Ritson, Joe Ritson, James Price and Oli Wilson
Left to right, Ben Ritson, Joe Ritson, James Price and Oli Wilson

Coach Mark Wilson of William Brookes School in Much Wenlock charted the progress of four of his young players - Ben Ritson, Joe Ritson, James Price and Oli Wilson - from school competition and junior basketball competitions, and in a national 3x3 competition called Ball Out.

From May to July the boys were training three times a week and started focusing on learning everything they could about 3x3 basketball.

They travelled to London on July 17 for the first qualifiers at Finsbury Park, competing in the under 16 category.

They were to lose all three of their group games, but by their final game of the day the team was growing in confidence. Their opponents’ friends in the crowd kept urging them to not underestimate the boys - a real compliment after a tough day.

At a later event in Birmingham, the boys were landed in the 'group of death' and were unable to progress, but their play had already come on leaps and bounds in the preceding few weeks.

More tournaments followed, and Mark described a watershed moment in Leeds.

"The trip to Yorkshire was a huge turning point. Just three weeks after London, the team’s game had gone to a new level. I have never witnessed such swift progress by a group of players in 25 years of coaching," he said.

Ultimately they went out of the Leeds tournament at the semi-final stage, but again the progress was impressive and they qualified for the national finals back in London.

They were to lose their three group games in London to put their stellar run to the finals at an end, but the boys were delighted with how they had performed.

With Ball Out at a close, the boys still had two more 3x3 tournaments in Wales following the national finals. They finished as runners-up both times, losing 10-9 to the Welsh team players who beat them 15-1 in Swansea a few weeks earlier.

Welsh selectors were impressed and invited Oli Wilson, Ben Ritson and Joe Ritson to Welsh national Junior team trials. Ben and Joe were successful in being picked for the under 19 squad and Oli was selected for the under 16 squad.

Coach Mark said: "All four players had a fantastic summer of basketball and improved far more than I, or they, would have ever expected.

"3x3 is such a great game for accelerating player development and the Ball Out tournaments are definitely one of the best ways to become involved with the format.

"They are really keen on their basketball and I am sure they will have more success in the future."

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