Bristol Storm secured an important win on Sunday as they reinforced their playoff credentials with a narrow victory over Essex. Racing out to a 15-3 advantage early thanks to baskets from Gonzalez and O’Malley, Bristol were eventually pegged back but still enjoyed a 15-7 score line after 1. A much more even 2nd played out as both teams trading baskets, highlighted by a stretch where the Blades increased their defensive pressure to slow down the hosts considerably. Still, with a narrow 25-21 advantage to end the break Bristol fancied their chances of pushing on in the 2nd half to secure the win.
And push on they did as a scrappy but low scoring 3rd quarter concluded with shout about before Essex made a run of their own. Trailing by 8 with just 2 minutes left, the Storm turned to their bench for answers and sparked a period of play punctuated by defensive stops and 3 straight triples from beyond the arc. Grabbing the lead for a 2nd time, Bristol wouldn’t be so careless again and this time held on for the win.
After the game, Storm Head Coach Steve Brocklehurst was quick to pay tribute to his team and the way they’re gelling on court, “We now have a real nice balance to the squad, some veterans, some at their peak, and probably most importantly the junior programme keeps providing us with players that can come in and have an impact.”
Bristol Storm (black kit) have been heating up in 2017 with some solid results - Bristol Storm
Reacting to positive results by the teams around them, Reading were able to snap their lengthy losing streak with a comfortable win over bottom side Exeter. A 15-7 1st quarter and a 23-11 3rd quarter gave the visitors more than enough breathing room in a contest where Chiara Di Stefano defied her young age to put up 16 points for the Rockets.
The loss takes Exeter’s own streak up to 15 and the potential for a winless season is now very real. Gomez Belaman and Comesana both had 8 for the Eagles who can be encouraged by a close 2nd quarter.
One mid table side that couldn’t secure a win this weekend was Anglia Ruskin as they dropped a home fixture to title chasing Team Solent Kestrels. Enjoying a fast start, the Kestrels asserted their dominance early on the way to a 23-4 opening period that would set the tone for the remaining 30 minutes. Although the hosts narrowed the gap slightly as the game developed, the Kestrels pulled away further throughout the 2nd half for a comfortable final score.
Talva’s 18 points for Anglia Ruskin were in vain, though Schirru’s 7 and 6 each from Ramma and Gonzalez were encouraging contributions. For Solent, Mel Curson top scored on 12, with Konali adding 11 and Jackson 10.
It was double delight in Bristol for the home teams this weekend as Bristol Storm’s win over Essex was preceded on Saturday by a win for city rivals Bristol Academy Flyers. The turning point of an even contest was undeniably the 3rd quarter where the Flyers impressively blanked their host into putting up a bagel, taking the period 17-0, and with it the game.
Flyers new signing Maialen Zibleti was impressive on debut, grabbing a game high 16 points and leading her team to victory. Amani Clark was more than happy to play second fiddle to her new team mate and she finished with 11. Harriet Welham top scored for the Blades and was the only player to make it into double figures, she had 10.
Maialen Zibleti had a solid debut for Bristol Flyers this weekend - B.East Photography
Playing a double header on the weekend, Lancashire had an excellent chance to try and make some inroads into their lowly position in the D1W table but couldn’t get off to a positive start as they fell to Charnwood on Saturday. A 26-18 3rd quarter saw the Riders establish a 57-44 lead going into the final period but the Spinners made a real run at their hosts in an attempt to get back in the game. Ultimately it was just too much to ask from the young Spinners side, but they can take a lot of heart from giving one of the league’s leading teams a real test.
Rachel Clayden was the star of the show for Lancashire once more, she had 21, with Milly Knowles scoring 15 and Shauna Harrison adding 10 more. For the Riders, it was a real team effort as they shared the points across their roster. Lucy Rogan top scored with 13, whilst Kelsy Cuddy had 10 and Jessica Eadsforth-Yates helped herself to 9.
Unfortunately for Lancashire, there’s no reward for competitive losses as Saturday’s narrow defeat by Charnwood was followed up by another close L away at Barking 24 hours later. In a relatively even game, 24 points for Taneka Rubin was a lifeline for Barking in a low scoring affair.
Trailing by a single point at the half as well as after 3 quarters, Barking had to wait until the final period to move into the lead as Rubin and Naomi McKenzie increased the scoring for the hosts and the Spinners couldn’t keep up. As with their previous game, Knowles and Clayden did the bulk of the heavy lifting for the Spinners, scoring 17 and 13 respectively. Rubin’s 24 was added to by 14 from McKenzie and Dami Adeyinka finished with 10.