Bulls and Saints bring silver back to Dalkeith
Midlothian basketball had a double cause for celebration at the Scottish Cup senior Finals at Meadowbank, as both Midlothian Bulls and Dalkeith Saints tasted victory in their finals.
Veteran Ian MacLean scored 33 points to take Midlothian Bulls to their ninth Cup crown in ten seasons, as Bulls held off a late rally from Glasgow Sports Division to win 76-71. The west coast side surprised the league champions at the off, building up a 2-14 lead as Bulls failed to find their defensive rhythm. With coach Dave Patterson missing through suspension, assistant Dougie Reilly found himself under pressure and a time out sparked a 16-4 streak to tie the game at 18-18 with 9:03 gone in the first half. As MacLean warmed up, Bulls powered in front, spreading the offense around with Craig Robertson and Marshall Muirhead moving inside to get some points, and only a late basket from Glasgow's international forward Alan Kiddie reduced the deficit to 36-31 at half time.
With the pace increasing from both teams after the re-start, Bulls kept their heads for a 13 points advantage after 4 minutes. Glasgow pressed hard with Craig Brownlie using his strength to reduce Bulls offensive rebounding, and adding nine points in succession, the Glasgow centre led a 4-13 run which suddenly left brought the holders back into the game at 57-57. As so often in the past, MacLean stepped up, two consecutive three pointers stemming the tide, but as he retired to the bench, Glasgow's Tony McDaid scored 4 of a 0-7 run to take his side into the lead at 63-64 with 6:07 remaining in the contest. MacLean, sank 7 shots from the foul line and despite baskets from Kiddie and Brownlie, the latter finishing on 27 points, Glasgow could come no closer and Bulls duly completed their league and cup double.
Reilly, who is hanging up his boots and may succeed Patterson as Bulls' coach was pleased with the win, and pinpointed the crucial difference between the teams. "Preparation and experience," said Reilly. "We know what to do when it comes down the stretch. The most important thing for us today was having as many people as possible contribute on offense. In the first half everybody was scoring, but in the second half Ian came through for us."
Dalkeith Saints took advantage of a uncharacteristically poor performance from holders Polonia Phoenix to take their second women's Cup in three seasons, winning a drab final 51-63. Pam Veitch made point about her exclusion from the Scotland squad by opposing coach Stuart Harris, scoring 14 points to lead Saints.