Basketball: Danum Eagles crowned Division Four champions

Danum Eagles 2014/15. Nana Jumah is pictured on the back row, furthest left.
Danum Eagles 2014/15. Nana Jumah is pictured on the back row, furthest left.

Danum Eagles have achieved exactly what they set out to do by winning the EBL Division Four (Midlands) title.

Victory at Sporting Club Albion on Sunday sealed the title, promotion to Division Three and sparked understandably joyous and emotional scenes at the end of the club’s first ever season in the National League.

George Colwill

George Colwill

Prior to their first game, Eagles secretary Jim Walsh told the Free Press: “This first year will be a learning curve but I think we’ll do all right.”

Jim was being modest.

Danum Eagles, who have stated their ambition to be in Division One within four years, were intent from the outset on winning promotion at the first attempt. They knew they were good enough.

And it was a goal that became even clearer following the tragic and sudden death of forward Nana Jumah, aged 28, a month into the season.

Proud head coach Bob Martin said: “These guys are such a fine example to young kids.

“They lost a teammate and decided to do something for him - and they have done exactly that.

“Nana’s death in training would end the season for a lot of teams, but not these guys. They are great people and I could not be prouder of what they have achieved this season.

“We haven’t finished yet either,” he added.

“The play-offs start this weekend and we’ll be going all out to win the National Championships.”

Eagles’ James Brough added: “What happened to Nana, despite being such an awful experience for us all as people, has been a huge motivating factor in our success.

“It has brought us together and we’re so happy that we’ve done what we set out to do.”

Eagles concluded their regular league season at Sporting Club Albion - affiliated with Premier League football club West Bromwich Albion - knowing that only a win would secure the league title.

A shaky first quarter saw the Eagles hold a 22-19 lead thanks to the play of Tom Hodson and Mathew Martin.

Danum got into their stride in the second quarter, Josh Metcalf and George Colwill made a positive impact and the defensive intensity of Paul Walsh and Robin Hewson helped the Eagles stretch the lead to 44-32 at half time.

The message from first team coach Ross Stafford at half time was simple: ‘Keep your heads.’

And the Eagles did just that.

There were nervy moments in the fourth quarter when the home side narrowed the deficit to seven points but Colwill had an answer for everything that Albion could throw at the Eagles.

Time and time again Colwill made big play after big play to restore the Eagles’ lead, scoring 13 of his 22 points in the final quarter, as they eventually pulled away to win 91-69.

Danum now enter the post-season play-offs as third seed. They face 14th seeds Woking Blackhawk Flyers on Saturday at Danum Academy Lower School (2pm).