A 15-5 4th quarter run from the Pride was enough to seal the final clash of the season between Southwark and Solent. Evenly poised at 45-45 early in the final period, the Kestrels went cold at the worst time possible and fell to a 67-53 defeat.
Eager to erase the memory of a National Cup Final loss to the same opponent, Coach Lee’s side came out strong and gave their supporters real hope that their D1W winning form could be translated in to post season success. But going 5/22 from the floor in the final frame was too much to overcome for the South Coast side and the contest was decided from there.
Southwark’s Alimat Onuyemi-Daniel was a worthy recipient of the MVP award as she scored 26 points, including 16 in the final quarter, to ensure the title of Playoff Champions belonged to the London club.
After losing out to Solent by the narrowest of margins during the regular season, Southwark weren’t going to let a shot at revenge pass without taking advantage. It didn’t look that way in the early stages though as the Kestrels were able to take advantage of 9 Pride turnovers to establish a 22-14 lead.
Feeling they needed to change the flow of the game, the London side leant on the talents of Emerald Ekpiteta, absent for Solent’s league win over Southwark this year, who scored 9 points in the quarter to help reduce the deficit. With both coaches using their benches extensively, plenty of players had the opportunity to put their mark on the game. No one did it more than Ekpiteta in that 2nd period though and the teams went into the break at 35-32 Solent.
The longer the game wore on, the more Solent began to struggle. So confident when they were ahead, as soon as Southward grabbed the lead midway through the 3rd the game began to change. Jodi Jerram and Ekemini Essien both found life hard for the Kestrels as neither managed to score in the frame and shots that were dropping earlier in the contest were now struggling to find their mark. With a minute to go, Southwark were up by 6 but had to settle for a 4-point lead after the D1W champs closed the 3rd with the final basket.
With just over a minute gone in the final quarter, Solent did manage to fight back and tie the score up but after that it was a slow and painful end to the game. Everything the Kestrels attempted just wouldn’t come off as Southwark once again began to pull away. Becoming more desperate as time began to tick by, that urgency simply led to more misses and poorer looks. Going 1/12 from behind the arc in the final quarter did nothing to help the Solent cause on an afternoon when they matched Southwark for the most part before letting things slip away.
The victory was a fitting way to end the season for the Pride as the London based side are expected to have a significantly different roster in place for the start of next season. Based at an academic institution, it’s probable that north of 5 players will be leaving this programme during the summer and it will be interesting to see if Coach Gibbons can find suitable replacements from a new intake. That might help rivals Solent in the long run but today it was no solace at all.
All images courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos