WBBL: Winterburn scores 1000th WBBL Championship point as Lions defeat Riders

London Lions guard Holly Winterburn joined the 1000 points club in the WBBL Championship this afternoon, as she helped her side to an impressive victory over her former team Leicester Riders – who she scored her first 958 points for.

Winterburn also dropped a game-high of 21 points as well as picking up six assists, but her efforts on defence were equally as brilliant as she made a huge five steals for her team.

Forward Cassie Breen was also an effective weapon for the Lions, as she contributed 14 points off the bench in just 20 minutes, while Kennedy Leonard dropped a brilliant double-double of 11 points and 13 assists.

Leicester can take some positives out of the match however, including Chelsea Jennings’ team-high tally of 16 points, despite starting from the bench for her team.

Meanwhile, Riders duo Oceana Hamilton and Makana Stone led the game in rebounds with 14 and 12 respectively, but their efforts were in vein as the Lions’ strength in depth proved too much for Leicester.

The second weekend of WBBL Championship action saw ten teams in action on a busy Saturday afternoon, with two teams making it back-to-back wins to open their seasons amid a number of particularly impressive defensive performances, and four road wins out of five games.

Gloucester City Queens, in their inaugural WBBL campaign, opened the day’s proceedings with a thrilling fourth quarter comeback to make it two wins from two, as GB international Melita Emanuel-Carr finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Queens trailed by as many as 13 in the first half, but steadily eroded their hosts’ advantage and took their first lead since the opening quarter when Inma Bautista commenced the fourth with a triple. That set the tone, and the run that settled the game came with four minutes to play when Claire Abbott hit a trio of three-pointers in a 9-2 burst, giving Queens the lead for good at 73-68.

Hatters on a high

Sheffield Hatters are the other team with a 2-0 record, after they recorded another big win by beating Manchester Met Mystics 79-46, also on the road at the National Basketball Performance Centre. Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee put in perhaps the day’s best performance with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, also nabbing four steals.

Hatters trailed for mere seconds in the first quarter before Fong Lyew Quee hit five points in an 8-2 tear that put them in front for good. The decisive spell came over the halftime break as, leading by just one shot, she again sparked a surge that saw Hatters hit 15 of the last 19 points of the first half, Georgia Gayle adding a pair of three-pointers on her way to 20 points.

They followed that by holding their hosts to single figures in both the third and fourth quarters, opening the third on a 9-2 run that completed a 24-6 ten-minute spell and gave them a 51-31 lead that just continued to grow down the stretch.

Meanwhile, the reigning league champions, Sevenoaks Suns, got their title defence underway in dominant fashion as they beat Essex Rebels 79-46 in front of a big crowd at Essex Sports Arena.

They wasted little time as they finished the first quarter on a 13-2 run to establish a double-digit lead that they never relinquished, Catt Carr hitting a pair of first quarter triples before Frankie Wurtz capped that run with five straight points.

Carr and Judit Fritz then opened the scoring in an 8-2 push to start the second stanza, establishing a 30-10 lead as Suns held their hosts to just 17 first half points. There was no way back for Rebels, as Carr, the league’s reigning Molten WBBL Player of the Season, again finished with a monster double-double of 20 points and 16 rebounds.

Another great defensive performance saw Cardiff Met Archers get their first league win of the season, holding Oaklands Wolves to just five third quarter points to break open a tight contest and eventually prevail 67-57, as Shannon Hatch led their scoring once more on 22 points.

Having trailed, Archers levelled the game early in the third on a pair of Hatch scores and then, amazingly, held Wolves scoreless for nine minutes. By the time the hosts next scored, a minute into the fourth quarter, Archers had poured in 15 points and led 52-39, with those points spread among five players in a great team performance.

Finally, there was another tense fourth quarter as Caledonia Pride picked up a first win of the league campaign, beating Newcastle Eagles 57-56 at home with four starters scoring in double-figures, including a double-double of 13 points and 15 rebounds from Maud Ranger, and another of 12 points and 12 rebounds from Sian Phillips.

But it was Sophie Loughran – who also finished on 12 points – who made the match-winning basket after ten second half lead changes in a thrilling contest. Trailing heading into the final three minutes, Loughran made the key lay-up to put Pride one point up, before neither team could connect on any of the final 12 shots of a hard-fought game.