U14 Girls: Blazers fight all the way to defeat Leicester Warriors
Following a morale boosting win yesterday against Manchester Mystics the young Blazer girls made the short trip to Gateway College to take in Leicester Warriors who they had defeated in their first ever National League game. To allow for players that missed out on the Mystics game the squad was rotated to include Lolly, Anna, Lucy Shellhamer and a debut for Monica Ambillino-Perez.
After a delayed start to the game the Blazer girls picked up where they left off yesterday and scored the first 6 points of the game as Lucy Smith, Darcie & Paige made the most of quick break layup opportunities. The Warriors were noticeably rattled by the early pressure being applied from the Blazers and following a Neve jump shot they called the first time out of the game to regroup. Unfortunately the pause in play was affective in stopping the Derby onslaught as they managed to string together a 10-2 scoring run to tie the scores. Both teams then exchanged points as the first quarter clock ticked down before the Warriors made 1 from 2 from the free throw line to lead at the break 15-14.
The close nature of the first quarter set the tone for the second as Neve, Paige & Darcie’s 10 point combination was answered by the Warriors simultaneously. With the defensive intensity high for both teams the next few minutes of the game saw multiple empty possessions before Neve & Miya combined to give Derby a slender 27-28 lead. Unfortunately for the Blazer girls the home team were determined to head into the half time break with a lead and after scoring the last 4 points of the quarter the Warriors led 31-28.
An evenly matched encounter continued as the action resumed in the third quarter with first Derby tying the scores at 31 through a 3 point play for Paige before a 6-0 burst for the Warriors saw them open up the biggest lead of the game 37-31. A Derby timeout was called and a big reaction was needed, this was duly met with 4 straight points for Lucy Smith and following a Warrior jumpshot a coast to coast basket for Lucy Walker. With the scores tied at 41 Warriors again summoned the energy to launch a late quarter surge and 4 straight points resulted in the Blazers being on the wrong end of a 45-41 score line heading into the final 10 minutes.
The first three quarters had been played by two very even teams; the winner of the game would be determined by who wanted it the most. The ever present in the Blazer armour this season has been their ability to fight hard for 40 minutes and today that would be needed more than ever. The fourth quarter started excellently for the Blazers as Paige made back to back layups to tie the score at 45. Both teams then exchanged scores and fouls and at the 3 minute remaining mark the Warriors found themselves with a slender 54-53 lead. The next three minutes can officially be marked as the turning point in the Blazer girl’s season as great defensive pressure denied the Warriors from scoring whilst on the offensive end great team basketball resulted in wide open opportunities for Darcie & Miya who combined for five points and gave the Blazers a 54-58. The drama wasn’t over though as a back court violation allowed the Warriors to close within two and have the final shot of the game which fortunately for the Blazers was well defended and the when Neve held onto the ball until the buzzer the game was won 56-58.
‘Wow, what a game. I have to acknowledge the fight and heart of both teams today; it takes two good teams to have a close game so credit to the Leicester Warrior girls’.
‘I can’t explain how proud I am with the way the girls fought from behind to come back and win. A few months ago we would have been on the other side of that result, however; we have now learnt how to be competitive for 40 minutes and believe me this is the corner we have been waiting to turn’.
‘We now have two weeks before our next game away at Nottingham Wildcats, a tough challenge but one I am sure the girls are eager to undertake’
‘A big thanks to the parents for your support this weekend. It’s definitely one to savour & remember.’
Neve Marvill 23, Paige Ferguson 14, Darcie Ashley 9, Lucy Smith 6, Miya Kelly 4 & Lucy Walker 2