Year: 2016

Basketball England

Mystics youngsters impress at England camp

Manchester Mystics duo Khia Lee and Ashana Hinds have been selected to attend a second England training camp in April after impressing this week.

The U16 pair were assessed on their tactical/technical skills, physical attributes and attitude at a three-day camp at the National Basketball Performance Centre at Belle Vue.

This week’s camp is the first of two for England’s U16 and U18 players prior to selection for next summer’s Great Britain squads for the FIBA European Championships.

Each home nation will nominate players for the first GB camp in June.

Ireland Haris 2016

Ireland down Worester Academy to seal Haris win

Ireland are this year’s Haris Memorial Tournament champions after downing Worcester Academy 103-91 in a stunning final at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.

Sean Jenkins and Adam Drummond led the Irish to victory with 24 points and 9 rebounds apiece.

Quest Harris, aged just 16, claimed 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for US side Worcester, with team-mate Mitch Doherty adding 28 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists.

Jenkins, who was named tournament MVP, also hit 23 points in a nail-biting 79-78 win over City of Edinburgh in the semi-finals earlier in the day.

Worcester, who were hoping to give America their third straight success in the Haris event, had reached the final with a 91-88 victory over England, who went on to finish third in the annual showpiece.

Click here for a full list of results and awards. 

Coach Jones WBBL Coach of the Month

Coach Jones collects another WBBL award

Jeff Jones has been named of Molten WBBL Coach of the Month for December after guiding Manchester Mystics to three wins from three games.

It’s his second straight success after landing the November award.

The Mystics started December with a 74-59 success over title rivals Leicester Riders at the National Basketball Performance Centre, then recorded a 67-58 victory over the same opposition in the semi-finals of the WBBL Cup.

Jones rounded off another successful month with a thrilling 82-79 success over Westfield Heath Sheffield Hatters, with Amy Browne nailing the win with a three-point buzzer beater.

Ashana and Khia

Mystics U16 duo to attend England training camp

Manchester Mystics U16 duo Ashana Hinds and Khia Lee will attempt to catch the eye of selectors when they attend an England training camp next week.

The talented teenagers will be among 58 players across four age groups taking part in a three-day camp at the National Basketball Performance Centre at Belle Vue.

Next week’s camp is the first of two that will go a long way to determining which girls will be selected for Great Britain’s U16 and U18 squads for next summer’s European Championships.

Haris Tournament

England U18 squad announced for Haris Tournament

Deng Camp stars Zion Tordoff, Kayne Henry-McCalla, Micah Savery-Richards and Caleb Fuller all feature in England’s U18 squad for next week’s Haris Tournament at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester.

Worthing Thunder’s 6ft 6in centre Hosana Kitenge, who has only just turned 16, is also named in a 12-man line-up for the eight-team tournament that runs from 27-29 December.

Joining England in the competition are Ireland U18s, Derby Trailblazers, City of Edinburgh, Sligo All Stars, Worcester Academy (US), Nova School (Spain) and hosts Manchester Magic.

Full England squad: Hosana Kitenge (Worthing Thunder), Caleb Fuller (Ipswich), Eisley Swaine (Bradford Dragons), Joshua Edwards (London Thunder), Joshua Ogundele (Barking Abbey), Kayne Henry-McCalla (London Westside), Micah Savery-Richards (Leeds Force), Pierce Maslen (Barking Abbey), Romario Spence (Leicester Riders), Zion Tordoff (Lancashire Spinners), Reginald Chuks (Leicester Riders), Will Hur (Reading Rockets).

You can watch all three days of action for just £10. Alternatively, you can turn up on the day and pay £3 for Tuesday’s games, £4 for Wednesday and £5 for Thursday.

For more information about the Haris Tournament, click here.

Arinze and Kaiyem

Magic quartet make cut for next England camp

Manchester Magic players Kaiyem Cleary (U18), Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo (U17), Greg Wild and Saul May (both U15) have been invited to attend the next England camp in April.

All four had a chance to show off their skills during a three-day training session at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue.

This week’s training camp was also the first of two for England’s U16s and U18s prior to selection of Great Britain’s men’s squads for the FIBA European Championships next summer.

All the home nations will nominate U16 and U18 players for the first GB camp in June.

New Logo

The club appoints new chief executive

The club has a new chief executive following the appointment of Phil Gordos.

A trustee of the club since the start of 2016, Phil has three boys in the Magic youth programme and is well known to many of you.

A former assistant editor with BBC Sport, the 47-year-old starts his official duties on 2 January.

“It’s a very special club that has done so much good on and off the floor,” says Phil. “I’m looking forward to the job immensely and I cannot wait to get started.”

“It is great to have Phil on board in such an important job” said Joe Forber, a founder member of the club. 

“We have had great successes in the past but there is a lot to be done to flourish as basketball moves forward in a more competitive atmosphere. Phil has shown a great affection for our club and I feel sure he is the person to take us forward”.

Haris Tournament

Get ready for another action-packed Haris Tournament

You can see some of the country’s top youngsters in action next week when the annual Haris Memorial Tournament gets under way at the Amaechi Basketball Centre.

The national teams of England and Ireland will both be presented in the Under-18 competition, alongside City of Edinburgh, Derby Trailblazers, Sligo All Stars and Manchester Magic.

Worcester Academy will attempt to make it three straight wins for teams from the United States, with Malaga’s Nova School completing the eight-team line-up.

The prestigious tournament is in its 11th year and remembers Haris Charalambous, a former Manchester Magic youth player who died tragically in 2006.

The action begins on Tuesday, 27 December at 6pm and finishes with the final at 5.30pm on Thursday, 29 December. See the website for a full schedule of matches.

A ticket to watch all three days of action is just £10, otherwise it is £3 for Tuesday, £4 for Wednesday and £5 for Thursday. Pay on the door.

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 finish 2016 strongly

Mystics U14s continued their impressive run of form to see out 2016 with 2 more convincing victories, firstly in the Northern Conference at home to Lancashire Spinners, 93-26 and then in a friendly 2 days later against Stockport U16s, 68-43. The high quality of the 2 performances owed much (as my credit card always does) to excellence in the neglected art of passing. As was to be expected, this was easier to achieve in the first game but was equally proficient when up against the bigger, tougher, more experienced u16 side who have some talented players.

In both games, the increasingly influential duo of Holly Bryan and Courtney Kenyon-Betts pulled the strings like skilled puppeteers. This talented pair have become far more composed than they were at the beginning of the season and have now learned to minimise the counter-productive unnecessary dribbling which stifles offensive fluency. They have a knack of seeing and delivering the right pass at the right time which is a compliment which can also be applied to Ellie Atherton and Ellie Hatton who both share the ball generously. (Certainly more than Harry Kane does or Scrooge would.)

When such good ball movement is combined with their willingness to run the floor as well as the boundless energy and finishing ability on the break or from medium range provided by Lucy Bryan and Charli Wroe (who, unbelievably still has another year at in this age range), watching this team could be a cure for conjunctivitis. (It’s a sight for sore eyes!)

Against Lancashire Spinners, everyone played with a maturity beyond their years with Holly and Courtney ensuring that everyone got plenty of the ball so that 5 players, led by Lucy, scored in double figures. Spinners competed well during the first half, benefiting from being allowed to advance the ball without being pressed, but were out-spun in the third due to the pin-point passing and well-timed cutting contained in Mystics’ offense.

The Stockport game was expected to provide a much sterner test for our youngsters. It did but a number of the girls shot so unerringly from medium range that it could have been mistaken for a William Tell master-class. This proved to be a major reason why we were able to get off to such a flying start. The basketball played by the team throughout the first period was by some distance the best of the season so far and seemed to catch our opponents completely off guard. They resembled a petrol station which had been hit by a surprise robbery. (Shell shocked!) This, allied to excellent team defence, exemplified by all of the above mentioned plus Lilja Toland whose lateral speed and willingness to listen enable her to mark virtually anyone and Lauren Addy who gives us the essential physical presence that her team-mates can’t provide, all resulted in a 23-7 blow out in the first quarter.

Our more senior opponents did tighten things up in the second stanza but we still bossed this to the tune of 13-6 to make the half-time score 36-13. The third quarter was much tougher. Stockport were a different animal after the break. They were now growling rather than baaing! They were much more aggressive offensively, using a big high post to good effect and driving hard at every given opportunity. This approach afforded them 14 points in just 6 minutes before we were able to stem the flow and finish the quarter strongly so that our lead had only diminishes by 3 points. The final period saw our opponents start well but we showed a steely resolve and won the period 16-11 to finish 25 points to the good with Charli leading all scorers. 

This was an exceptional team performance by a talented group who are learning to understand one another- which isn’t easy with all the different accents!- more with every passing game (pun fully intended!). They seem to understand the value of working hard at the defensive end and should be proud of the fact that no team in the 14 games played up to now, including friendlies, has managed to scored more than 48 points against them. There is still much to learn and improve upon but hopefully, we can kick off 2017 with similar intensity.

Many thanks, again, to my 2 side-kicks, James and Sammy for all they do for the team. Thank you also to all parents for your much-valued support and lack of grumbling. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all and to both of my regular readers!

Jim Carnegie

Manchester Mystics

Manchester Mystic U14 win at Derby Trailblazers

Last Saturday, Mystics U14s travelled to Derby to face the Trailblazers yet I couldn’t find any cowboys on view. (I could now go for a cheap shot and say ‘apart from the refs’ but that would be unfair!) I took 11 players, an awkward number to give meaningful minutes to, even in easy games. I did manage to get all 11 on court in both halves which, in a contest which was relatively close throughout, is no easier than climbing Mount Everest in flip-flops!

On a day when each of our 5 starters, Courtney Kenyon-Betts, Holly Bryan, Ellie Atherton, Beth McLoughlin and Lucy Bryan, made major contributions at one end or the other (and at both for 2 or 3 of them), it was they who were guilty of ignoring one of the 10 Commandments in that they stole the show. We won the game for two main reasons. We played superb team defence and we generally did the simple things well. Mega-talented Serbian superstars are able to thread bounce passes through the eye of a needle but most connoisseurs of the game will agree that u14 girls tend not to be able to.(Lol.) When they over-use the bounce pass, it usually results in a turnover or a spillage. Either one causes a mess so we actively encourage our youngsters to use it sparingly. (Very sparingly.) During this game such passes were spotted as often as the cowboys. This, plus less frequent attempts at forcing difficult passes, meant that we turned the ball over on fewer occasions than we did in our one lost game versus Nottingham.

There are still spells when wearing bibs of a non-sporting kind would have been useful due to unnecessary over-dribbling but, thankfully, the message seems to be slowly getting through that, in a team game, it is essential to share the ball and give as many people as possible the chance to contribute. Most of our number have also come to realise that good defensive footwork and pressure on the ball regularly results in opponents presenting us with the ball so that there is no need to risk silly, unwanted fouls by going for tentative steals off the dribble.

Against a significantly taller team blessed with quickness, it is very much to the girls’ credit that they were able to run such a devastating fast break so often in the first quarter. Devastating, that is, until it came to putting the ball through the hoop. We missed enough chances for any severe critic to label as as ‘hoopless.’ Whilst being far from that, we must become more clinical and finish lay ups ‘with our eyes.’ Instead of a comfortable lead, we finished the first period 6 less than that well-known lemonade, 7-up, at 13-12. Courtney and Holly were as reliable and brilliant as ever in their roles of subduing Derby’s two main offensive weapons (a canon and a flame-thrower!) while Beth’s pin-point, bounceless, passes to Lucy and Ellie, who were both back to their best, were a joy to behold (and to catch!) I was, however, concerned that the opposition’s impressive number 6, Katie Januszewska might end up scoring as many points as her name would get in a game of Scrabble!

Our first five remained influential as they mixed with our six other players, Lilja Toland, Charli Wroe, Olivia Forster, Lauren Addy, Elli Hatton and Kadeja Mohammed, all of whom contributed to some degree to our domination of the second quarter. Derby could find no way through our team defence which proved as unforgiving as any wife is when her husband forgets her birthday. A team sufficiently talented to average almost 70 points per game, failed to score any for the first 9 minutes of the quarter, giving us a 27-15 advantage going into half-time.

We came out a bit too complacently after the interval, giving up 3 baskets due to defence which was as slack as the over-sized jumpers my mother used to knit for me.This was addressed via a time-out and with lessons learned, the girls reminded me of that car programme on tv as they went into top gear. Ellie and Lucy benefited from more passes that were slicker than a hair smeared with Brylcream from Beth, Courtney and Holly to notch 12 combined points in a mere 3 minutes and u13, Lilja subsequently gave a promising all-round display which bodes well for next year as we raced into a 43-21 lead. Holly then rubber-stamped proceding with 4 baskets in a row to extend the margin to 25 so that the remaining 9 minutes could then be devoted principally to the 6 non-starters who gave it their all and only allowed the hosts to eat gently into our lead so that we eventually ran out 57-36 winners against very worthy opponents in a game played most sportingly in great spirit.

I want to finish by praising our bench. We win and lose as a team. I was so pleased to see nearly all of our players encouraging one-another, cheering each other on and generally being very positive when waiting for their opportunity to shine. As everyone is aware, even though we are a National League team rather than a Community one, in our less demanding fixtures, I always ensure that every single player gets to play almost equal minutes. This is not possible in tougher games and I do appreciate that the vast majority of parents and players accept this and put our team first. Thank you for that.

Thank you also to my able assistants James and Sammy for all their time and effort and to all parents for their support, even the ones who almost got red cards!

Jim Carnegie