Month: October 2016

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 edge out the Hatters in Sheffield

After five straight wins, Manchester Mystics Under-14s faced their first real test in the North division when they took on the previously unbeaten Sheffield Hatters on Saturday.

Unfortunately, we were not at full strength as one of our starters and main scorers, Ellie Atherton, had turned her ankle and could only hop rather than run. This elevated Charli Wroe into a merited first five spot but it did put us at a physical disadvantage compared to our considerably taller opponents.

Up against bigger starters, we struggled from the outset to secure any rebounds. This, and the re-occurence of the over-dribbling disease which plagued us last season, resulted in a poor beginning. We managed a paltry one point during the opening five minutes and things were looking more black than rosy.

Fortunately, determined team defence meant we only trailed by three. A couple of substitutions, most notably the introduction of Lilja Toland, gave us the offensive boost we required and we now found ways to counter Sheffield’s tightly packed defensive barrier. We seemed, for the time being, to have also discovered suitable defensive match-ups to limit the power of the opposition’s three principle offensive threats. Holly Bryant was now boxing out to minimise the danger of Charlotte Timms, Lucy Bryan found ways to contain the high-scoring Abbey Whitehouse, while Courtney Kenyon-Betts was putting on a defensive master class up against the hugely influential Zoe Katteregea. 

Consequently, we responded to our below par opening to shade the first quarter 11-10.

As expected, this head-to-head contest was such a different scenario to anything else either side had experienced thus far. Instead of scoring at will, every basket had to be earned. This was going to be a battle which would suit the likes of Elli Hatton, who was in her element up against aggressive opponents who were as quick as we were up and down the floor. This meant fast-break opportunities were at a premium, so we had to find other ways to score. We were lifted by the introduction of the energetic, all-action, fearless Olivia Forster and we cashed in on a perceived mis-match for Holly. Following a deep two from Beth McLoughlin, we found ourselves up by four.

This prompted me to give Courtney a breather. When will I ever learn! Eight points in the blink of an eye was a huge swing to the Hatters in a low-scoring affair and could have seen off many an opponent. Not this Mystics team. Up stepped Charli, now recovered from a fierce blow to the ribs, to swish a pair of free throws and score with a blistering drive soon after replacing Olivia, who had received a nasty bump on the head. This ensured halftime parity at 26-26.

In hindsight, I selected the wrong five going in to the third period. We turned the ball over far too often and remained scoreless for the opening four minutes. A time out plus a change of personnel then helped us regain our poise and self-belief. An extended run of court time for the much-improved Lauren Addy proved crucial. Her power enabled her to obtain much-needed rebounds and secure several loose balls to help our cause. Showing unbelievable toughness for such a young group, the girls hit back from a 0-10 dip, to transform 26-36 into 34-36. Once again, like a pack of hounds, we were back in the hunt.

On the back of three incredibly close quarters, it boiled down to whoever made the least mistakes over the final 10 minutes to decide the outcome of this enthralling contest. All things, however, were not equal. Our leading scorer on the day, Holly, was feeling too unwell to continue. I was worried that it would now be even more difficult to score. Her twin sister, Lucy, not Ivy, made certain it wasn’t. Worryingly for us, Sheffield had plans of their own. We were left very much on the back foot when Zoe fed Abbey, who posted up her smaller marker in the key twice in quick succession for two scores and a free throw.

The game could easily have slipped away from us but for Holly’s fortitude. Despite feeling far from well, she agreed to go back on. She helped secure our defence to such an extent that all of Sheffield’s considerable firepower could only manage one more basket in the remaining seven minutes. Ten points across the quarter from Lucy and four from Charli produced a 14-7 scoreline over this climatic period to stamp a pulsating 48-43 victory for team harmony over most worthy opponents.

Many thanks to my assistant coach James for his invaluable, insightful input and to our highly efficient team manager Sammy for all he did, as well as to all parents for your fantastic support. You were brilliant!

Jim Carnegie

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Mystics strengthen with addition of Schwellenbach

Manchester Mystics head coach Jeff Jones is thrilled to have increased his offensive options with the shooting talents of Sierra Schwellenbach.

The American has wasted no time in making an impression after she poured in 19 points against Cardiff, and having scored 16 points at Oaklands in her second appearance after making her debut against Caledonia in the Cup, Jones has been impressed with her performances so far.

“Sierra came to my attention when Rheanne Bailey’s Manchester Metropolitan University team scrimmaged with the University of Manchester,” explained the play-caller.

“She came back and said they had an American who was a really good shooter and so we invited her down and have been really pleased how Sierra has slotted in.

“She gives us another scoring threat, but also another high basketball IQ or our roster.

“It was a bonus to also learn that despite her American accent, she was British! This is something which was a bonus from the perspective of getting her registered quickly.

“Obviously, she has her academic studies which come first, but I am pretty sure she will be an asset to what we are trying to do in Manchester with women’s basketball.”

As for Schwellenbach herself, she is delighted to be showcasing her skills and letting people know about her background.

“I grew up in Los Osos, California with my parents, brother and sister, starting to play basketball when I was four years old and I haven’t stopped since,” she revealed.

“I played varsity basketball for four years for Morro Bay High School and in my senior year, I was captain of the team and defensive MVP of the league while also averaging 16.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.1 steals, and 3.7 assists per game.

“In 2014, I started at the University of California, Santa Barbara studying computer science and now in my third year, I’m studying abroad for a year at the University of Manchester.”

Georgia Jones 150 WBBL assists

Jones becomes first to pass historic WBBL milestone

Manchester Mystics’ captain Georgia Jones has become the first player to dish out 150 assists in the WBBL.

Jones, 26, has recently returned to her hometown team after playing the first two seasons of her WBBL career at Leicester Riders.

The Great Britain point guard averages 4.43 assists per game over her 42-match career in WBBL competitions.

She is currently averaging 6.33 assists since her return to the team she began her senior career with at the age of 14.

After finishing bottom of the WBBL last season, the Mystics have started this season promisingly, with two wins from their opening three league games. They are also through to the last eight of the WBBL Cup.

Magic and Mystics Great Britain

Mystics trio selected in GB squad

Manchester Mystics trio Dominique Allen, Rheanne Bailey and Georgia Jones have been selected in GB’s initial squad for November’s EuroBasket qualifiers against Italy and Albania. Both games are away, with GB needing victory in Italy to keep their hopes alive of making it to the finals in Czech Republic

More information here

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14s see off Stockport Lapwings and Hatfield Fliers

Mystics U14 team’s start to the new season has so far been as comfortable as anything comfortable. (I couldn’t think of an amusing example!) Our second game at home to Stockport turned out to be so similar to the first one at Bury that I doubt if anyone has seen those 2 teams in the same room at the same time! We proved to be too powerful and too quick for the younger, smaller Stockport side and found as many ways to score as there are types of coffee despite not pressing and concentrating on our outside game in the second half. Our girls showed great discipline and maturity for an under 14 side while our opponents, who will be a force to be reckoned with next season, left feeling as though they had contributed to a game played in excellent spirit. We left with a 129-16 win achieved by first-class team work but knowing that we would face tougher tasks in future. 


Our third fixture saw us travel abroad to Yorkshire which they believe to be God’s country. This is only partially true. God did create Yorkshire but then realised he could do better so he made Lancashire! Our opponents were Hatfield who I knew would as be well coached and well organised as they always are. They were. Both teams went into the game unbeaten but it soon became obvious that we had the upper hand due to some breathtaking pin-point passing which was so impressive that it almost made my pacemaker blow a fuse! Hatfield wisely tried to slow the game down and it would seem that time goes more slowly in Rotherham because the 24-second shot clock seems to last twice as long! Even so, we still managed to rack up 33 points in the first 10 minutes but did find ourselves in foul trouble due to a liking for reaching in when going for steals. (We wouldn’t make good pick-pockets!)

We were less productive across the second and third quarters, partly due to more determined defence from spirited opponents but mainly because we opted to over-dribble rather than give the ball up early. We nevertheless maintained our supremacy by playing impressive team defence, with less unnecessary fouling, which nullified most of what Hatfield threw at us. (We also ducked very well!) The fourth quarter saw us back to our best, showing variety in our scoring thanks to improved ball and player movement and some excellent outside shooting. The 72-28 victory was again achieved without a hint of a press and bodes well for the rest of the season for a deep squad of talented youngsters who all seem keen to buy into our 2 main objectives- improvement and enjoyment which will be achieved if everyone continues to put in maximum effort and listen and learn. 

Thanks to all for their support, especially James and Sammy. Next up is Leeds at home on Saturday 1:00pm. All support welcome.

Jim Carnegie

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Mystics runners-up in Betty Codona Classic Plate

The new-look Manchester Mystics opened up with a win and a loss at the Betty Codona Classic in Nottingham at the weekend.

Competing in the plate competition, they beat Sevenoaks Suns 81-49 in Saturday’s semi-final before narrowly losing out 66-63 to Leicester Riders in Sunday’s final.

Great Britain point guard Georgia Jones top-scored with 23 points against the Suns, with fellow debutantes Dominique Allen and Jo Clayden adding 16 and 13 points respectively.

Against the Riders, Manchester found themselves 49-36 down going into the final quarter but almost claimed a remarkable comeback victory.

Rheanne Bailey, another new signing, scored 26 points as the Mystics, coached by Jeff Jones, drew level with a 16-3 run only to fall just short.

The Mystics now turn their attentions to the WBBL, opening their league campaign with a home game against Barking Abbey Crusaders on Saturday at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Belle Vue (3pm tip).

Manchester Mystics

Mystics U18 storm past West Bromwich

Manchester Mystics played host to West Bromwich Albion Basketball at the Amaechi Basketball Centre as both teams got their U18 Women’s North campaigns underway.

The Mancunians came flying out of the blocks, connecting on back to back three pointers as they sought to establish themselves early in the contest. Swarming defence helped Mystics open up an 11 point lead before their guests could respond. The Midlanders’ relief would be short lived, as the hosts continued to hunt in packs. With crisp ball movement keeping the Albion defence busy, Manchester entered the first quarter break riding a 27-5 advantage.

The second period would prove to be closer, as the Mystics’ scoring slowed down somewhat, combined with a slightly improved offensive showing from West Brom. Rebounding woes contributed to the hosts coughing up 9 points in the quarter as Albion battled gamely. The transition game offered generated much of the home scoring over the 10 minutes, as Manchester held a 31-point lead at the halftime buzzer.

The strength in depth of the Amaechi Centre outfit was plain to see in the third quarter as they rediscovered offensive rhythm, whilst continuing to spread the playing minutes throughout the roster. In the face of a couple of slick Albion plays, the Manchester defence maintained its intensity and focus to continue to make their guests labour for every point. The Black Country side matched their output from the previous quarter, but the hosts pushed the score out further with a strong 26-9 period.

Even as the game wound down, the effort levels of both teams remained as high as at any point during the game, with hustle plays being the tale of the quarter. West Brom refused to back down to their hosts, getting the better of the Mystics’ mobbing defence on a couple of occasions to remind them that only the final buzzer would end this battle. The scoreboard, however, failed to tell the tale of a well contested outing, Manchester prevailing 93-30 to kick the season off and drop a marker for how they mean to go forward.

Report by Mbongeni Greg Mpofu