U14 Girls: Gutsy Blazers made to rue slow start in Sheffield
After a month’s break from competitive fixtures the U14 Blazer girls made the short trip to Sheffield hoping to kick start the second half of their inaugural season against a strong Hatters team. The challenge facing the girls was made slightly harder with illness forcing starting centre Phoebe Colton and shooting guard Lucy Walker to miss the game.
The game started with multiple empty possessions as both teams found it difficult to break down the defensive pressure being applied. At the three minute mark Miya opened the scoring for the Blazers and with it tied the game at 2-2. Unfortunately for the Blazer girls it was the Sheffield girls that were determined to be first to rebounds and loose balls as they reeled off 10 straight points which was momentarily halted by an Izzy jumpshot before they finished the quarter with 6 straight points and an 18-4 first quarter lead. The quarter break was needed to awaken the Blazer girls and get them firing on both ends of the court.
An instant impact was needed at the start of the 2nd quarter and it came through Kerys who cleverly evaded her defender and made the resulting jump shot. Both teams then traded missed free throw attempts before a Miya rebound and put back forced the home team into their first time out of the game. Although the Hatters were able to score immediately from the restart the Blazers were then able to string back to back scores from Miya and free throws from Lucy Smith to reduce the Blazers deficit to 7. As time ticked down in the quarter a lapse in focus allowed the Hatters to score the last 7 points of the quarter and a 28-12 half time lead.
The half time talk focused on maintaining the defensive pressure and offensively to share the ball to find gaps in the Hatter defence. The first quarter started with Miya driving to the basket and being fouled, having made 1 from 2 and in a similar fashion to the first half the Hatter girls then took full advantage of a lull in energy from the Blazers and were able to go on a 14-2 scoring run which pushed their lead out to 43-15 and Derby were in danger of being blown out by a big score. However, the Blazer girls had different ideas and through Neve, Miya & Kerys were able to score the last 6 points of the quarter to reduce the deficit to 43-21 at the third quarter buzzer.
Down by 22 and only 10 minutes to play would negatively affect the performance of most teams however the Blazer girls have a ‘never say die’ attitude and when Miya & Lucy Smith combined for a 0-6 start to the fourth quarter the home team called time and bought their starters back to the court. Regardless of the Hatters personnel the Blazer girls were determined to fight their way back into the game and they were able to finish the game with Miya again being the main offensive instigator as she scored 4 points to restore Derby pride. Although the final score read 48-32 the Blazer girls can take heart from the fact that for three quarters they more than matched their experienced opponents.
‘We quite simply weren’t at the races in the first quarter. We went out stone cold on the offensive end and if it wasn’t for a good defensive performance Hatters could have been out of sight in the first ten minutes’.
‘I am very clear on the steps we need to take in preparation for an important two games next weekend and I am sure that if we can continue to show the level of heart, fight and determination like we did today that we will achieve a positive outcome in both games’.
‘I am positive that we are on the right track and that the turning point in our season is nearby’.
Miya Kelly 15, Izzy Chetwynd 4, Lucy Smith 4, Neve Marvill 4, Paige Ferguson 3, Kerys Mather 2.