Bears’ Shield triumph is a landmark moment

Sussex Bears celebrate winning the Sussex Shield. Picture by Mansoor Ahmed (Map Photos)

Sussex Bears celebrate winning the Sussex Shield. Picture by Mansoor Ahmed (Map Photos)

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Sussex Bears lifted their first cup trophy on Sunday when they beat Birmingham Elite 58-57 in the National Shield final.

The club was set up in 2014 and were promoted from the Men’s Development League South Division as champions last season, having finished third the previous campaign.

Bears have continued that momentum this season and are second in National 3 South, while the Shield success marked a landmark moment for the club.

In a tight affair at the University of Hertfordshire, Bears led throughout before Birmingham finished strongly but the Sir Robert Woodard Academy-based side held on.

Hank Rivers was dominant at both ends of the floor, with 25 points and 14 rebounds, and Bears captain James Brame now hopes more success will follow.

He said: “It was the club’s first cup final and we’re one out of one now, so exciting times are ahead.

“We pretty much led from start to finish but gave our fans a bit of a fright towards the end. It was a good game against a very tough, young Birmingham side, who up at the top of Division 3 North.

“Our experience showed and we hit some big shots when we needed to, especially a couple of big threes from Bud Johnston.

“It was a great occasion for the club and it was amazing to come away with the win, hopefully this is the first of many for the club.

“It was quite a scrappy game at times and the rims were very tight but all that matters is the win, whether you win by one, ten or 30.

“This is massive for the club and hats off to Gary Smith for the way he coached the team.

“We’re having a lot of fun and we have a great team chemistry. It was a great day for the club on Sunday and hopefully we can now go on to win our league as well.”

Bears went into the match with four players unavailable but Brame said it was a team effort from the ten players who travelled to get the win.

The squad left Sussex at 8am in the morning, for a 11am tip-off in Hertfordshire.

The team also played the day before when they won 81-59 at home to Northants Thunder in the league. That match tipped off at 1pm to give Bears as much recovery time as possible before their final the following day.

Joe Carter top-scored with 20 points, while Johnston sank 15 and Rivers scored 13.

Bears are second in the table but have three games in hand on leaders Middlesex LTBC, who they trail by four points. Bears have won 11 of their 13 league matches this season.

Sussex Bears are next in action on March 4 when they travel to Southwark Pride.

Bears also run a number of junior teams. For more information about the club, visit www.sussexbears.co.uk

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