The Strathclyde League Cup-Final ended in exciting fashion yesterday, as the East Kilbride Bagpipers defeated the Cessnock Haws 53-50.

Big Jimmy McGhee led the ‘Pipers in scoring with 13 points, almost matched by Haws guard Boaby Gemmell who had 11.  Tam Smith had a game leading 7 rebounds for the Kilbride squad, closely followed by Tam McTem of the Cessnock with 6.

Being the season highlight for both teams, the game unsurprisingly drew a large crowd, as 23 people filled the stands at Paisley’s Lagoon Centre.  A late tip-off meant that both squads could not only engage in pre-game haggis, but they could join in with the hunting, killing and cooking of it also.

The Haws squad, sporting a dashing new tartan strip for the big game, opened the game up with a 10-2 run.  Yet the ‘Pipers were soon back in the game with some inspired play from Big Jimmy.  McGhee scored two slam-dunking layups in the last minute of the first quarter to tie the game at 15 apiece.

Boaby Gemmell, showing all the determination that made him the best butcher in Glasgow’s South Side, took over the game in the second quarter, scoring all 5 of his baskets and making a number of attractive passes.

Lack of available changing rooms meant that both teams had to enjoy their halftime fried Mars Bars from their respective benches.  And there was an ugly scene as Haws coach John ‘Dobber’ Ritchie complained to centre staff that the breeze from an opened fire door was causing his team to miss shots.

Scoring exceeded defence in the third quarter, as both teams fired from all angles, scoring 20 points each and setting up a dramatic fourth stanza.

The last chapter was chock-full of highlights.  McTem, shying the ball from the sideline, was whistled for an infraction for overstepping the line.  He demonstrated to the referee, to no avail, that the line was simply too close to a wall for his size 14 feet to fit between them.  Cessnock took advantage of this overturn, tying the game up with a big three-pointer.

East Kilbride fans held their collective breath as Big Jimmy McGhee tumbled to the floor after an attempted steal, slipping on grease near his own bench.  After applying some Deep Heat during a subsequent time-out, he was back on court, ready for the dramatic finish.

After 8 straight possessions without a score, McGhee hit a massive three.  His shot took so long to go in, having taken a fortuitous spin off of a bent screw in the backboard, hitting the rim 6 times before dropping though, that there were only 3 seconds left in the game.  McTem inbounded a long pass to Gemmell, who caught the ball at half-court.  He took one dribble and was set to launch a potential game-tying shot, but tripped over a badminton net being erected at mid-court by centre staff, losing the ball as the buzzer sounded.  Despite protests, the referees accepted that the game had run over its allotted time, and that the staff did in fact have a job to do.

Both teams may meet again in the Springburn Knifecrime Tournament on April 15th.




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