In-Depth: Wolves take championship in nail-biter

Wolves and Jets took to the NSC Arena Court in front of packed stands in a nail-biting climax to the 2023/24 Basketball League. Wolves were keen to maintain the momentum that saw them top the regular season table this year while Jets sought to avenge their overtime loss in last season’s Championship Final. Early advantage went to Wolves who secured the jump ball and quickly converted with an outside shot from Ross Wilson.

Wolves again deployed their full court press led up by Michael Pardoe and Oscar Lace, however Jets had learned from their previous loss and found some success breaking through to get into the front court. Defensive pressure from both sides kept scoring low and Jets stayed close through the shooting of Paul Kilic and Wayne Mears. Another swish 3 from Wilson kept Wolves ahead, the pressing defence also paying off as they ran out the first with a slender 17-11 lead.

Quick baskets from Pete Boussougou and Revi Del Rosario brought Jets within a single point at the start of the second. Wolves held their nerve though, relying more on inside play with Ben Takkan finding success from the mid-range and drive, while Cameron Scott dominated offensive boards. Wolves offence struggled to flow at times but they continued to make small gains as Viktor Capkanovski added his name to the scoresheet. The pressing defence also disrupted Jets flow, providing plenty of steals and turnovers for Wolves, however similar pressure from Jets on the return held the wolfpack to a creeping advance rather than runaway success. The game was still too close to call at halftime, Wolves extending the lead by two, 30-22.

The third opened well for Wolves, Wilson and Ben Campbell racking up six early points in quick succession. Jets took time to find a reply but an outside shot from Boussougou was followed in the mid-range by Wayne Mears. Further breakthroughs came in the form of quick takes that drew fouls and soon Wolves found themselves in the penalty, Kilic and Del Rosaio happily sinking the free throws. It was a setback for Wolves but not a killer blow as they kept the score ticking over, maintaining the lead at the buzzer, 41-34.

With only 7-points difference there everything to play for as Jets hit the afterburners in the final quarter. A solid defensive wall prevented Wolves scoring, though Harry Brindle managed to draw fouls on the drive, while quick breaks and solid ball movement gave baskets to Mears and Michael Baker, tying the game 41-41. Momentum was shifting to Jets but relentless full court pressure by Wolves led to a halfcourt violation, and a charge taken by Brindle. With their engines stalled Jets soon found Wolves on the advance again, Brindle and Pardoe going strong to the hoop for fouls and free-throws while Capkanovski picked off a pass for a quick break layup.

The game shifted to Wolves but remained close, Jets within 4 points in the final two minutes. It was Wilson and Capkanovski who effectively sealed the deal, the former taking a strong drive while the latter swished outside the arc. With less than a minute Wolves led by 9-points and played the clock to prevent a Jets response. Two foul free throws by Pardoe pushed the Wolves further ahead, 56-45, and capped off a successful defence of the championship for back-to-back titles.

Man of the Match was awarded to Michael “Junkyard Dog” Pardoe whose lockdown defence coupled with a solid offensive presence to help power Wolves to the win.

The Isle of Man Basketball Association would like to extend thanks to all the players, coaches, officials, and volunteers, without whom this season would not have been possible. The Annual Awards evening for the Basketball Association will be held on Saturday 11th May in The Loft, 1886. Tickets are priced at £20 per person including a buffet meal and are available through

The regular season and training sessions will now go on a break for the summer, but basketball will continue with pay-to-play open courts every Tuesday evening at the Roundhouse. Running from 19:00-21:00, the first hour will be for players aged 14-18 with the second hour for senior players aged 18+. No pre-registration is required, with teams formed on each night and a cost of £5 per player.

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