Burnside High School’s 76-58 victory over St. Thomas of Canterbury College in the Canterbury Under-17a grade basketball championship this week sounds routine, but the performance of Mitchell Langley on the losing team was quite remarkable.
The Year 11 student became the first St Thomas player to record a triple double in Canterbury Basketball Association (CBA) statistics recording 14 points, 13 rebounds and a staggering 16 blocks. The number of blocks is a new CBA record. The next highest blocker in the game had three blocks while Langley’s previous best was five.
“We had the lead in the third quarter, but because Burnside as struggling to get to the hoop they choose to pass more and shot from distance. We couldn’t contain them and so they won in the end.” Langley complains.
Langley wasn’t entirely satisfied with his previous sport of choice, rugby league. He abandoned the code last year in purist of a new challenge. While playing social basketball he was encouraged to trial for the St. Thomas First V and made the cut for both the Under-17a squad and the Thompson Trophy roster who compete in the Under-20 grade.
“I am playing three games a week at the moment. I play on Tuesday for the Under-17’s and on Saturday for both teams. I get little rest with the Under-17’s, but I am the youngest player in the First V which means my minutes are less frequent.” Langley explains.
A sudden growth spurt is one factor contributing to Langley’s recent success. He was six-foot a year ago, but the 15-year old centre has shot up to 6 foot 5 in 2017.
“I was the tallest guy in the Burnside game which helped me dominant the boards. I like to attack the hoop hard and prevent the opposition from getting inside. That’s my game at the moment, but I need to work on my hands and shooting. I am hoping to get better all the time.” Langley says.
In the Under-17a grade St. Thomas has won two out of three games while the First X was only 14th in the South Island Championships last year. However the school has recently built a new gym and presently boasts 15 teams.
“My goal for the rest of the year is to keep improving with the ultimate goal being a scholarship in the US. I love the sport and am getting better all the time.” Langley enthuses.
Langley is not the only big boy making a huge impression in Christchurch. Angus McWilliam at Middleton Grange stands 6 feet 10 and has just acquired a scholarship to play NCAA Division I basketball at Texas Christian University.
P.S. Not suggesting for any minute that Langley’s feat rivals the NBA, but the sheer number of blocks he attained is highly unusual in any game of basketball at any level. Blocks have been recorded in the NBA since the 1973-74 season. In nearly 45 years only 43 different players have blocked 10 or more shots in a game. It has occurred a total of 155 times (including the playoffs) in NBA history. Mark Eaton accomplished the feat more times than anyone else in league history (19), followed by Manute Bol (18). Eaton, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Andrew Bynum are the only players to block 10 or more shots in a playoff game, with Bynum being the only player to do so with a victory. All of the before mentioned players are seven foot or taller.
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