Bristol Flyers managed to claim both games against the Storm this season, adding a 58-47 win this weekend to their initial victory earlier in the season. American Amani Clark finished the game with 18 points for the Flyers, a valuable contribution in a low scoring game.
The Storm had the best of the early going as they jumped out to a 9-0 lead. That free-flowing opening wasn’t an indicator of things to come though as both teams began to struggle from there on out. With the Storm causing problems for their opponents with solid defence, particularly inside, the hosts couldn’t make the most of their looks on offence, particularly from the free throw line. That left a score of 26-23 to the Storm by the time the half time buzzer sounded.
More tight competition followed in the 3rd but consecutive threes by the home side meant they jumped out to their biggest lead of the contest as the quarter ended, up 42-34. The 4thwas a complete turnaround. With the visiting Flyers switching to a press on defence, the Storm offence all but dried up. With frequent trips to the line themselves, the visitors were able to cash in and get back into the game. With Gonzalez and Salvador both fouling out for the hosts, things went from bad worse as the Flyers moved into a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“This was always going to be a difficult game for many reasons, Storm have played really well at home and top teams have struggled to get the win here. I expected Storm to come out strong and put us under pressure, full credit to my team they battled and stuck with it,” said Flyers’ Head Coach Gareth Till after the game.
Hannah Wallace top scored for the host Storm with 15, scoring 5 of those points in the early 9-0 start to the contest. Gonzalez added 9 before fouling out and Colbron had 6. For the Flyers, Clark’s 18 was added to by Maialen Zilbeti who had 11 and Watkins with 7.
Amani Clark's efforts against Bristol Storm helped the Flyers secure a big derby win this weekend - B.East Photography
In a matchup that suggested an easy away win before tip, Reading dug deep to give league leading Solent a real scare on Saturday. Escaping with a 79-71 win, the Kestrels had to work hard to ensure they didn’t slip up ahead of their crunch clash with Southwark next weekend.
The writing was on the wall early in this one as Reading came out hard and established a slender lead at 16-15, firing a shot across the Solent bow that this was going to be a battle. Accepting the challenge, the visitors upped their game in the 2nd to erase their deficit and establish a lead of their own at 30-27 by the half. With both Axentieva and Essien in fine form for the Kestrels, the Rockets found they had more than enough in reserve as Gomez and Valdeolmillos kept them in touch at 52-48 after 30 minutes. Unfortunately for the hosts though, Solent pulled away in the last, stretching their lead and leaving town with a win.
Axentieva was the star for the visitors, continuing her hot form with 19 points, whilst Essien had 17. For Reading, Gomez finished on 21 and Valdeolmillos had 20.
Fortunately for the Kestrels, their game on Sunday was significantly more straightforward than the one 24 hours earlier, restricting Lancashire to just 15 2nd half points on the way to a commanding win.
With the absence of Julie Page continuing to hurt the relegation threatened Spinners, they had little answer to their visitors in this one but did well to only trail 23-13 after 1. That lead was only going to balloon from there though as the difference between the sides in the D1W standings began to show on the court. With Essien in fine form, her 21 points allowed the Kestrels to establish a 40-21 lead by the half. Keeping the Spinners to 15 points in the 2nd half, Solent added 37 of their own for a truly dominant win.
Mel Curson’s 12 points were more than enough when added to Essien’s fine performance, with Milly Knowles top scoring for Lancashire with 11.
Exeter treated their fans to a solid performance in their final home game of the season despite falling to Essex 63-52. With 17 points from Gomez-Belaman, Saturday’s fixture was one of the better games on the season for the struggling Eagles, result aside.
For Essex, the win was important in their race to secure 4th place and a home tie to start the playoffs. Up 19-10 in this one after the 1st, that lead was extended to 38-22 by the half. Credit to the home side, they fought back hard in the 3rd and managed to reduce their deficit, but they couldn’t complete the comeback.
Powesland had 19 for the visitors, with Tom adding 12 and Leung 8. Gomez Belaman’s performance was solid, as was a 16-point effort from Comesana. Brennan added 8 to round out the Exeter top scorers.
It's been a tough season for Exeter in D1W this season, but they've continued to battle to the end - Exeter Eagles
Anglia Ruskin slipped to a 5th defeat in a row but their D1W survival should be assured providing they can keep possession of the head-to-head tie breaker when they meet the Spinners next week. Even then, it would still take a strong effort from the Lancashire side in their remaining games to escape the drop.
Getting ahead of the hosts early, BA climbed out to an 11-point lead. That lead was narrowly stretched up to 12 at 29-17 at the half despite some sub-standard shooting from the visitors and a string of errors. With those opportunities, Ruskin looked to get back into the match and led by points from Jarkowska and Talva, the Rhinos pulled the score back to 36-35 to Barking after 3. That was the wake up that Abbey needed though, who regained their composure to finish strong and take both points back to London.
“Hard to put into words my summary of this game,” said BA Head Coach Karen Burton. “It was definitely a game of two halves, we underperformed in the first half, but had the lead going into the break and then second half we stepped up and our performance was better. Some games you have to just grind out the win and that was definitely what happened today.”
Sheret and Armanu led the way for BA with 11, whilst Rubin had 10. For ARU, Jarkowska had 14, Talva 11 and Schirru 7.