City of Sheffield Saints’ final two league matches witnessed the end of an era as influential player-coac h Garnet Gayle is retiring from competitive basketball.
Gayle signed off with a two-match points total of 47 in the final Division Three match, a derby victory over Sabres and defeat at Birmingham.
Sabres obviously hoped to avenge a three point loss at All Saints just before Christmas when the two met at Hillsborough College.
But the visitors had other ideas and with six players getting on the score sheet in the first quarter and four steals from Callum McKenzie, they led 21-15.
The second period was closer, despite four 3s (two from Gayle, one each from David Frost and McKenzie) and 11 of 12 from the free throw line – Saints were 50-41 up at the break. Excellent rebounding from the visitors, quick foul trouble and missed free throws from both sides, the quarter ended with Saints still 57-45 up going into the final period. The final 10 minutes saw the visitors continue to exert pressure, hitting a further 22 points and coming away with a commanding 87-71 victory.
Garnet Gayle scored 31, including a perfect 13 of 13 from the free throw line, Chris Hackett 18, Luke Parker 16, David Frost 11, Callum McKenzie 7, Marcus Welsh 4, Joseph Swaby, Mike Talbot, George Naylor, Josh Edwards.
Sundays game at Birmingham A was a complete contrast. Saints had only two senior players Gayle and Swaby, plus assistant coach, Mike Talbot).
Seven of the Under- 18 squad made up the numbers, and made their mark in meaningless game as neither team could have made the play offs and Saints were not in any danger of relegation. Birmingham had several players of 6ft 6and Saints were never in the game, but all contributed to Gayle’s final appearance in Saints’ kit,.
Gayle scored 16, including 3 of 3 from free throws, David Frost & Josh Edwards 12, George Naylor 11, Joseph Swaby 7, Daniel Jenkinson 6, Marcus Welsh 3, Tyler Gayle, Kenneth Nwose and Mike Talbot finally made his debut appearance in the last 2 minutes.
Saints will continue in Division Three next season with a new coach, and a mixture of this season’s senior players plus at least five of the current Under 18 squad.
Coach Gayle will be a hard act to follow, but the signs are positive for another competitive campaign.