Amidst a dearth of league fixtures which leaves us with a spell of 1 competitive game in 10 weeks, I arranged a friendly in the not-so-nearby Northamptonshire to play Northants Lightning U14s last Sunday. As is the norm, this was one of many games which clash with Mystics u16 I so Mojan, Anya and Tiana were once again unavailable, as was Sophie O whose glass ankle gave way for a second time last week.
This meant it would be a good test for the remaining 12 Mystics U14 I squad. Fortunately, most of them are good at tests! In the event, the match was as keenly contested as the annual games of crazy golf I have with my wife (who keeps the score card whenever she wins!) Lightning stormed (!) into an early lead and first impressions were that this was going to be as tough as an arithmetic exam for an innumerate candidate.
Some magic from Mystics (!) quickly restored parity but it wasn’t easy containing well-drilled (their coach might be a dentist), physically strong opponents intent on driving hard to basket whether there was an open path or not. Despite not wearing body armour or crash helmets, Jane, Akeala and Neeusha courageously did all they could to minimise this threat to both the basket and their well-being.
As the game progressed, Elsa, Eniola and Adele also put themselves in line for a gallantry award by way of some effective help defence. Eniola further assisted our cause with some very determined defensive rebounding. Offensively, in the first quarter, the excellent Mya and the effervescent Lola T demonstrated their prowess from the short corner with shooting accurate enough to to win a coconut at a fairground. Our 1 point lead after 10 minutes became 5 by half-time thanks mainly to late baskets by the ever-improving Elsa, 3 in a row from the inspired Sophie B plus the move of the game involving Lola P and Jane.
After the break, despite no half-time oranges or cups of tea, we re-started well but fell away in the latter stages (possibly due to a lack of breath caused by too much singing on the journey!) and were 38-39 down with 9 minutes remaining. The team’s togetherness and wonderful team spirit then helped us turn things around. Jane’s one-person full-court press proved more fruitful than many an orchard. It produced as many steals as a kleptomaniac in overdrive. Our impressive team defensive transition, exemplified by Alycia, Neeusha, Adele and Lola T, nullified Lightning’s appropriately named fast break. An eye-catching score from Fatima drew thunderous (!) applause from the capacity crowd and 2 free throws (which were harder to come by than a kept promise from a politician) from the reliable Akeala sealed the deal at 56-48 to bring just reward for a team display full of all-out effort and determination.
Sincere thanks to Louise and Darren for going above and beyond to help us out. Unfortunately, there is still no venue for our Thursday evening training sessions but we do have a game vs Mystics u16 III this Saturday at 12.30.
Best wishes to both my readers.