Westside’s unbeaten record in the CBL U14 division looked to be in serious jeopardy on Sunday when they ran into a motivated Barnet East Giants squad.
The Westside story this season has been well-organised, crisp execution on offense and good communication and effort on defense, behind the excellent coaching from head coach Lloyd Clark – which thus far has many tipping them as early favourites for the division championship, currently reinforced by their perfect start to the season at 2-0. Conversely, Barnet came into this game still searching for their first win at 0-2 and not yet clicking as at the rate of their west London rivals. The stage looked set for another convincing Westside win however someone must have forgotten to send the script over to the Giants, because the game turned out to be something entirely unexpected for those lucky enough to be on hand to watch the CBL thriller.
Barnet’s Asuro Williams came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, racking up 80% of his teams entire offensive output, as Westside struggled to keep up with the impressive Williams onslaught early on. In fact, Williams outscored the entire Westside team on his own in the first stanza, by a score of 8-6, in leading the Giants to an early 4 point cushion.
After some timely words from their coaches, Westside regained their composure in the second quarter behind steady playmaking from Harrison Cutler and inevitable scoring touch of Louis Savastano, who scored on a couple of swift moves to the hole to level the score and then push the West Londoners ahead by 4 going into the half.
Williams refused to back down easily in this one and came back out in the third with 4 more points, enroute to his game high 13 point haul. However Cutler looked every part of the floor general he clearly is for Westside in not only running his team’s offense with aplomb, but also taking advantage of the gaps in the defense as he sliced and diced to the basket repeatedly for score after score. Cutler plays with a competitive fire and has some punch to his game which is a joy to watch. He plays to win and with noticeable support from Jasper Towleh, who scored the last 4 points of this tightly contested game, he and his Westside teammates were once again successful, finally outlasting the vastly improved Giants by a score of 22-18.
“I really enjoy my team – we are all great friends on and off the court” Cutler said post-game. “I just try to find ways to get them involved and try to make it easier for them to score however I can. We also are improving on defense and work hard in practise on the plays coach is teaching us. We just want to continue to get better and hopefully we can keep on winning”. For his efforts in leading his team to a hard-earned win, Cutler was awarded the game MVP, finishing with 8 points and several key assists.