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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Guildford Heat Fired Up for Trophy Defense
March 9, 2009

PREVIOUS SIDELINE NEXT SIDELINE

Excuse the bias — and no offense to the Eagles — but 'Go Guildford!'


The Americanís own Keonta Howell has been leading the charge for the Heat this season. Photo: Gary Baker
This being a column rather than reportage, I'm allowed a little bias. My partisanship should come as no surprise, however. The American itself was Surrey–born, the Heat are still the most geographically local BBL team to our offices, and star forward Keonta Howell is one of our writers. Add to that the fact that my own family history includes both Guildford and Sunderland (regional rivals to all things Geordie, and no, it doesn't help that Newcastle started out as the Sunderland Saints), and I was never likely to root for the Eagles in this one.

'This one', by the way, is the British Basketball Trophy Final. If you haven't been following the story of the Guildford Heat — and to a large extent the Eagles as well — you've been missing some great story lines.

League Champions in Year Two
Three years ago, the Newcastle Eagles were the dominant team in the BBL, lead by iconic player–coach Fabulous Flournoy to success in the League, Playoffs, Trophy and Cup — a clean sweep. The Guildford Heat were just a fledgeling amalgamation of local basketball enthusiasm. Come 2006–07, and it was the small–town Heat, paced by Americans Chad McKnight and Brian Dux that jumped up and shocked the league, stripping the Eagles of their league championship title and the BBL Cup, leaving Newcastle with only the Playoff title.

The Dux accident, but Trophy success
Then came the 07–08 season, losing McKnight to the Leicester Riders, and Dux to an auto accident that left him with severe head trauma (from which he is now slowly recovering, back in his native Buffalo). The Heat defied the odds to take the BBL Trophy and Playoffs title, leaning heavily on ex–UConn player EJ Harrison as they defeated the Eagles 86–79 in the Trophy Final, but lost out to the Eagles in the league after a 108–101 thriller.

Administration, yet fighting on
And now the 08–09 season. While the stars — Howell, Harrison, and a returning McKnight amongst them — fought to keep Guildford competitive on the court, the club came under financial pressure away from it. In the past month, the club first went into administration, only to be saved by businessman Alan McClafferty (fittingly enough, MD of John Dennis Coachbuilders, a renowned local manufacturer of fire trucks).

At a players' meeting, the American stars decided they would fight on despite the team's money woes, and far from being distracted, went on a week's rampage, defeating the Plymouth Raiders home and away to qualify for the Trophy Final and then slapping aside the previously dominant Everton Tigers 90–74 in league play. If they've been a little underwhelming this past week, it may only be that they're keeping their powder dry for an explosive Trophy Final.

Another classic clash
The Trophy Final is this Sunday at the Guildford Spectrum. While not the 10,000 seater stadium the Eagles enjoy back home, The Heat nonetheless intend to fire up their fine local venue, nicknamed 'The Furnace', to take full advantage of home court. The Eagles are the league–leaders and favorites. The Heat are a team with the players needed to defend their Trophy crystalware — not just the US stars, but Brits such as Mike Martin, Jon May, and ex–Vanderbilt Center Alan Metcalfe.

If you enjoy basketball — and a potential feel–good ending — you might want to grab some of the last tickets available for the Trophy Final this Sunday. Visit the Guildford Spectrum website at www.guildfordspectrum.co.uk. The Heat's own website is www.guildfordheat.com.

Ha'way the Heat!

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