The last club game before Christmas took the Junior men on the Scottish cup trail down to Falkirk Fury.
With starting Point guard and leading scorer Nicky Sim injured, and considering Falkirk had beaten the Musketeers in the league earlier in the season, it was sure to prove an uphill challenge for the team to get to the final.
Starting the game the Falkirk team played strong pressure defence trying to steal the ball and generate easy points. The Muskies handled the pressure well and it led to some easy baskets. Duncan Pattullo came out of the gates firing, scoring 10 points in the first quarter, and a number of them while being fouled and finishing his shot.
The Muskies took the lead into the second quarter against their somewhat stunned opponents 14-17.
Holding onto the lead would be the real challenge, and Falkirk came back strong in the second quarter.
The Muskies managed to work against the press defence, and got that many opportunities that the Falkirk team took the press off, allowing the Musketeers to move free and quickly up the floor. On offence the team moved the basketball around the court well and got some excellent opportunities, with Mark Myers and Jeb Spink exposing holes in the Falkirk defence and Duncan Pattullo having a phenomenal game, showing what an excellent player he is.
The strong play kept Falkirk at bay, but with the gap narrowing to a 1 point lead at 34-35.
With such a close game the atmosphere was tense, the home support made their presence felt as the hall was like a cauldron as the two teams battled.
Kevin Myers was excellent collecting rebounds and also picked up offensive rebounds to allow more scoring opportunities.
The Muskies defence was also excellent, with Falkirk scoring only free throws until two minutes left in the quarter. This led to a big surge, but then Falkirk came back into the game setting up a tense final ten minutes with the Muskies still up 1, and the score at 41-42.
Foul trouble began to hit the Muskies going into the last quarter. Lewis Esplin and Mike Taylor stepped onto the court and filled in ably for their team mates. Again, it was defence that proved decisive, with the Muskie defence controlling the Falkirk offence in a very hard physical game. It was the players who finished the game off decisively.
Nicky Sim, although injured, stole the ball and charged to the basket to finish while getting fouled. The lead began to stretch and Falkirk became more desperate to get the ball back. This played into the Muskies hands with a lay-up by Mark Myers, and Jeb Spink hitting his free throws as Falkirk fouled in desperation to keep time on the clock. It was all in vain at the game rapped up at 59-49 to the Musketeers and a place in the Junior Men’s Scottish Cup final.
With this team being together close to 18 months, this game showed the improvement in the team being together, and to still have the belief after their leading scorer being injured showed great strength of character and a strong team spirit, with players stepping up and showing what they are capable of.
The final will be during the BasketballScotland cup finals weekend, on Sunday, February 5 at the Center for Sports and Excellence, Edinburgh University with tip off at 12.45pm.
Scorers: Duncan Patulllo 19, Kevin Myers 13, Jeb Spink 10, Mark Myers, Nicky Sim 6, Lewis Esplin, Mike Taylor 2.