Solent Kestrels needed to pull out all the stops to grab a vital win against 3rd placed Charnwood, needing an extra period to get the job done 62-61.
With a depleted roster due to the U18 National Cup Final, Charnwood travelled South with a sparse roster but made up for their lack of numbers with a terrific level of fight to make this a stunning contest for any neutrals in attendance. The game didn’t start that way though as the hosts pushed out to a 14-8 lead after 1 and pressed even further ahead during a dominant 2nd to lead 36-20.
Sensing their opponents would tire, the Riders did nothing of the sort and used the half time break as a springboard to mount an impressive fight back. Cutting their arrears to 11 at 48-37 after 3, Charnwood saved their best until last to restrict the Kestrels to just 7 4th quarter points as they nailed consecutive 3 pointers late to tie things up. A 3 of their own from Karlina Axentieva was huge to make it 55-52 Solent, but the visitors hadn’t come this far to give up now. Chloe Compton sank a huge 3 to tie the score at 55 and OT was on the cards.
In a game that had now become one of incredibly fine margins, Solent felt happy once they’d established a 62-58 advantage in the OT frame, but Compton once again popped up from beyond the arc, hitting her 5th triple of the contest to make it a 1-point game. That was as close as the Riders would get though as Solent held on for a key win.
The Kestrels have Kalina Axentieva to thank after her 20 point, 5 rebound game was the difference for a team who didn’t get another scorer into double digits. Ekimini Essien was the closest though, she had 9 and Megan Jenkins had 8. With their reduced roster, Charnwood shared the ball well, Chloe Compton and Kate McDaid finished on 15 with McDaid also adding 15 boards, whilst Ellie Maidman had 11 points and 9 rebounds.
Kalina Acentieva was the difference in a tight win for Solent this weekend - Mansoor Ahmed/Ahmed Photos
With both teams fighting for playoff positions, the margin of victory couldn’t have been smaller as Essex crept over the line for a home win on Saturday, 51-50.
Despite familiar surroundings, it was Bristol that settled into the fixture early. Repeatedly exposing their opponents zone defence, the Storm built a slender 14-10 lead after the 1stquarter before the Blades switched things up. The change in tactics led the game to break down as things got scrappy, particularly inside. Bristol continued to move the ball around and quick hands led to good looks as the visitors extended their advantage to 33-20.
The 2nd half then became a real war of attrition as the Blades slowed the tempo, took the sting out of the game and attempted to grind their way back into the contest. With a lack of tempo, the rhythm went from the Storm’s offence and the score line began to close once again. At 41-36 to the visitors with 10 minutes to go, Bristol held out for as long as they could but as the Blades nudged ahead with less than 60 seconds to go. Bristol’s recent signing Salvador did manage a turnover with 10 seconds to go, but her contested fast break wasn’t to be despite complaints from the visiting support.
The Spinners efforts to escape the D1M trap door were dealt another blow on Saturday as the slipped to defeat against Barking 64-48.
An even contest throughout, the game was close heading into the final 10 minutes before Lancashire fell away. 23-23 at half time turned into a narrow 39-37 lead for the hosts heading into the 4th thanks to points from Milly Knowles and Angelika Singel. Barking turned the game on its head during the final quarter though, outscoring their opponents 27-9 down the stretch to give the final score a deceptive look.
“I’m really happy with the win on the road,” BA Head Coach Karen Burton said. “Lancashire Spinners are a team improving and teams have travelled there and struggled. With good contributions across the board and 5 players in double figures it definitely shows how much our team play has improved over the court of the season.”
Knowles top scored for the hosts with an impressive 22, Singel added 8 and both Shauna Harrison and Emma Cheetham scored 6. Barking did well to share the load on offence with 5 players all making it into double digits. Edwards had 12, Rubin 11 and Adeyinka, Armanu and Ijelu all scored 10.
With one half of Bristol facing disappointment at their loss to Essex, the Flyers utilised some stingy defence to keep their opponents to just 14 1st half points on their way to a 65-40 win.
With a frantic start to the game, Kasia Jarkowski opened the scoring for the visitors before Maialen Zilbeti replied for the Flyers. Good defence then limited the visitors as Hannah Watkins and Liisa Juul went to work to extend the lead for the hosts. With Ruskin already feeling the need to chase the game, their turnover count began to rise and led to further trouble as the 1st ended 18-9 to Bristol. The 2nd quarter was more of the same as the Flyers time and again applied the pressure to force bad looks and contested shots whilst scoring at a good pace themselves. The lead grew as the 1st half wound down, eventually hitting 26 at 40-14 by the half.
Fortunately for ARU, they managed to match the Flyers the rest of the way, but that simply meant their deficit remained constant rather than decreasing. A much better defensive effort in the 3rd restricted the hosts to just 8 points, but as Ruskin were only able to muster 9 points of their own it was a low scoring quarter. The 4th was anything but as both teams combined for 34 points to put a different slant on an otherwise low scoring contest, but the result wasn’t in doubt for a deserving Flyers team.
After the contest, Bristol Head Coach Gareth Till was happy with the result, if not the performance of his side over the 40 minutes, “There were some good individual performances, but it is a team effort and everyone contributed to the win. We were happy with the way he played in the first half, but you get in that comfort zone of being so many points up and we were very scrappy in the second half, which I think we need to improve on.”
Hannah Watkins and Fiona Fox top scored for the Flyers with 12, while Amani Clark had 11. For Anglia Ruskin, their top scorer were Angeles Colpao with 10, Jarkowska added 9 and Talva had 6.