Three Cup Semi-Finalists confirmed in enthralling WBBL opening weekend

Durham Palatinates and Sheffield Hatters both secured comfortable victories as the 2021-22 WBBL season got underway with the WBBL Cup on Friday evening.

The nights first match saw Caledonia Pride travel to Durham Palatinates. In a one-sided Group A encounter it was Palatinates that went home with a 77-42 win. The first quarter was a tight affair that saw the hosts hold a narrow three-point advantage with the score at 17-14.

Palatinates started to pull away from their opponents in the second and third quarters. They added 17 in the second and 23 in the third whilst limiting Pride to just 14 points over the two periods.

They went on to play out the game in the last, adding a further 20 points to secure the win.

Goretti Hurtado Barbeito lead the scoring for the home side with 17 points while captain Kara Elderkin narrowly missed out on a double-double performance as she finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds. For Pride, Maud Ranger had a good game, contributing 11 points and nine rebounds.

Sheffield Hatters welcomed Nottingham Wildcats to the All Saints Sports Centre in the days later tip-off. Much like the evenings other game it was a one-sided affair as Hatters picked up an impressive 94-53 victory.

Hatters got off to an electric start, scoring 25 points in the opening quarter to race into a nine-point lead. It was a lead that only got bigger as the game went on.

By half-time they had stretched their advantage to 21 as they went into the break 48-27 up. A massive third quarter of 27 points increased their lead again. Going into the last they had a lead of 34 with the score at 75-41 in the host’s favour.

Hatters finished strongly as they went on to win 94-53. Georgia Gayle stared for the home side as she dropped 28 points in a commanding display. Kennedy Nicholas was impressive for wildcats, finishing on 30 points.

The WBBL Cup continued Saturday afternoon following an exciting opening night, with the Cardiff Met Mystics, Leicester Riders, London Lions, Manchester Met Mystics and Newcastle Eagles all picking up important wins.

The Gloucester City Queens were impressive in their first ever game, particularly Marlee Ball who dropped 26 against her former club, also grabbing nine rebounds too.

However, a monstrous 16-points 16-rebounds double-double from Shannon Hatch as well as an extra 19 points from Kim Kheing inspired the home side Archers to victory.

Meanwhile in Scotland, last season’s WBBL Play-Off runners-up Eagles put on a dominating performance, with Maddie McVicar leading the scoring with 22 points.

It was a disappointing day for Caledonia Pride, but there were plenty of positives to be taken from their second half display, where they found a bit of scoring rhythm through the likes of Sian Phillips (15) and Maud Ranger (17).

In London, the Lions continued their impressive start to the season following on from their excellent win in the EuroCup Women earlier in the week, as Cassie Been, Kennedy Leonard, Stephanie Umeh and Holly Winterburn all scored 13 or more points.

Claire Paxton performed really well on her debut for the Essex Rebels, as she dropped a team-high 15 points, but the quality in depth for the Lions proved too much on this occasion.

The Riders, who are the current WBBL Championship holders, also got off to a winning start as they defeated Oaklands Wolves in a tough-fought battle with Anna Lappenkuper leading the East Midlands side to victory with her 14 points.

Both defences didn’t give up many easy looks or buckets, but Wolves guard Greeta Uprus was the player to find a solution the most as she dropped a game-high of 17 points, despite being on the losing team.

Finally, the Met Mystics also picked up a victory today after outplaying the Nottingham Wildcats in a very high-scoring game, with four players reaching over 20 points – including Georgia Jones who dropped a game-high (and joint high for the entire competition tonight) of 26.

Kennedy Nicholas continued her impressive start to life with the Wildcats, dropping another 22 points this evening after scoring 30 the night before, but unfortunately for her and the rest of her team, they fell a little too short.

And in an enthralling day of action for WBBL’s ‘Super Sunday’, three teams booked their places in the semi-finals of the WBBL Cup.

Sheffield Hatters, London Lions and Newcastle Eagles all stamped their tickets for the next round, and there were crucial wins for Cardiff Met Archers and Leicester Riders to set up a final day showdown in Group C.

Last year’s finalists Sevenoaks Suns would have been looking to go one better this year and came up against a stern test against a London Lions side who have enjoyed an excellent start to the season.

They put themselves in the driving seat in the final quarter and found themselves 3 points ahead with forty seconds to go, however an incredible last period fightback from the Lions ensured they would maintain their perfect start to the WBBL season.

They will face fellow high-flyers Sheffield Hatters in the semi-final who enjoyed an impressive showing against Manchester Met Mystics.

The Hatters flew out the blocks and found themselves 20 points clear by halftime, with former Mystic Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee leading all scorers with 20 personal points along with Helen Naylor who posted 20 points of her own to go with 11 rebounds.

In the day’s opening game Cardiff Met Archers ensured their group campaign would go down to the final day as they put in another impressive performance to see off Oaklands Wolves.

After an opening day win against Gloucester City Queens the Archers carried on their solid start against the Wolves, as they had five players score double figures in points on their way to a convincing win.

Shannon Hatch led the Archers with 19 points to go with four rebounds and six assists.

They will face off with last year’s Cup winners Leicester Riders to decide who meets Newcastle Eagles in the semi-final, with the Riders seeing off the Queens in a dominant display.

The Riders held the Queens to only 14 first half points as they looked to put the game to bed early, against a Queens side that saw four players play all 40 minutes. Louise Rouse caught the eye for the Riders with a dominant double-double of 14 points and 13 rebounds.

In the day’s final game Newcastle Eagles came out on top in their decider against Durham Palatinates. Both sides knew a win would be enough to take them into the next round, and it was the Eagles who seized the incentive with a well-rounded team performance.

Ebony Horton exploded for 31 points as she led all scorers for the Eagles, as a strong second half showing saw them hold the Palatinates to only 17 points in the final two quarters.