Solent started off a must win weekend in the best possible way as they easily handled Lancashire on Saturday. Defeat for the Spinners started the slide on a 2 loss weekend that ultimately sealed their fate as the club can no longer escape the D1W trap door.
A 30-11 opening period signalled the Kestrels intentions early and although Lancashire fought valiantly throughout it was never likely to be enough. Against top quality opposition, Shauna Harrison can be pleased with her contribution of 28 points even if her Spinners side did finish 2nd best. Ekimini Essien was once again the catalyst for the league leaders, she had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals in the 1st of 2 impressive performances on the weekend.
Ekimini Essien is hitting a real solid patch of form at the best time for Solent - Mansoor Ahmed
Wrapping up their weekend, the Kestrels claimed a nervy tie that was close throughout the 1st half. Missing 2 of their starting 5 in Mel Curson and Karlina Axentieva, it wasn’t a surprise that Barking were able to stick with the visitors and just 6 points separated the teams at the half.
The 3rd quarter was where Solent were able to pull away though, limiting BA to just 5 points as they increased their defensive efforts with significant results. That simply spurred the hosts on in the final quarter though as they looked for a way back into the contest. Restricting the Kestrels to just 9 points, Barking managed to put up 21 of their own but it was too little, too late after such a damaging 3rd period.
Ekimini Essien once again dominated and has come to the fore right when her team needed it. Scoring 32 points, it was a key contribution on a day when only 1 of her team mates made it into double digits. Taneka Rubin top scored for Barking, she had 16.
Barking Head Coach Karen Burton was in a reflective mood after the game, “Solent are on the verge of winning the league, so to be competitive throughout the game is a great positive on how far the team have come this season. As individuals they have grown so much, comparing it to last week’s game we won by 19 but the players were not happy themselves and stepped up this week.”
Still keeping the pressure on, Southwark picked up another win this weekend to make sure that Solent have to keep their foot on the accelerator right to the line. Restricting the Spinners to just 15 points in the 1st half, the Pride were never in trouble in this one and will be pleased to have grabbed another win.
Shauna Harrison was once again a standout for the Spinners and collected 19 points, another good effort against quality opposition. Both Alimat Onuyemi-Daniel and Khaleah Edwards finished on 15 points for the hosts who now turn their attention to a game against Reading next weekend.
Charnwood are stumbling towards the post season as Bristol Flyers claimed 2 wins over them in as many days this weekend. Saturday’s meeting in Bristol was a good contest for 30 minutes before the hosts were able to pull away in the 4th to win by double digits.
Amani Clark was the standout for the Flyers as the American put up an impressive 25 points. Youngster Harriet Swindells was solid in response for the Riders with 19, but it wasn’t enough to keep this one close.
Sunday’s match up was a lot grittier with both teams failing to reach 50 points but that won’t have bothered the Flyers as they claimed the win once again. Estonian forward Liisa Juul this time took control for Bristol as her 16 points led all scorers and ultimately helped the visitors get the W.
A low scoring contest from the outset, both teams shared 16 points to start proceedings. The visitors then managed to take the 2nd 15-10 and that difference would end up being key as neither of the quarters in the 2nd half were decided by more than 2 points. 2 wins on the weekend moved Bristol into a tie with Barking in 4th, but the Flyers will need to beat Lancashire next week and hope BA lose to Essex if they are going to finish the season in that spot.
Liisa Juul has been a solid outlet on offence for the Flyers this season - B.East Photography
A loss for the Storm didn’t completely destroy their chances of a post season place, but they are now hanging on by a thread. That also means that Anglia Ruskin have most likely sewn up their spot with only seeding left to battle for.
The hosts started the game well and jumped out to an 11-2 lead but that is as good as it would get. Turnovers and poor shot selection allowed ARU to reel their opponents in and a 20-6 2nd quarter meant it was anyone’s game after the break. That momentum kept going for the visitors who led by north of 20 points in the 3rd before Bristol reduced that down to 10 going into the 4th. A comeback never materialised though as the Storm continued to falter and couldn’t close the gap.
Bristol Storm Coach Steve Brocklehurst, “Consistency has plagued us all season, on our game with everyone clicking we can compete, but when we are not there, we tend to capitulate. We really need to continue to work on our game management and the importance of every play offensively and defensively.”
With Bristol’s final game of the season being a tough one away at Solent, the Storm can still make the post season with a loss if Reading lose both of their remaining games and Lancashire win their final game of the season against Bristol Flyers. Whilst the Storm don’t hold the direct head to head with Reading, a 3-way tie between Reading, Bristol and Lancashire would see the Storm make the playoffs.
Reading nearly managed to make the above scenario irrelevant but couldn’t quite do enough to get past a strong Essex Blades team. Trailing by 3 entering the final quarter, the Rockets gave it their best but couldn’t find a way to get in front.
It was a solid turnaround performance from the Blades who trailed 15-11 after 1 and 29-27 at the half. A strong 15-10 3rd quarter tipped the contest in their favour and they saw this one out from there. Only 4 scorers made it into double digits in the contest with Faith Okwuosa and Maria Gomez both scoring 12 for Reading whilst Harriet Welham put up 11 for Essex and her team mate Monika Kucerkova had 10.