Manchester Mystics

Mystics U14 seal play-off spot with win at Leicester

Having arrived at Gateway College early last Sunday, it was more a case of Closed Gateway apart from a few blokes whacking a dead budgie over a net. (Playing badminton.) When everyone had arrived, I was relieved to find that the Leicester Warriors side did not include Genghis Khan, Geronimo or Attila the Hun but disappointed that the pre-match music was no better than last year! (Get some Northern Soul on!)

With it being, in the words of one of our more eloquent parents, ‘quite a treck,’ I was keen to try give all 10 Mystics a fair amount of court time by using the not necessarily to be recommended five on, five off strategy I often employ against less experienced opponents. Leicester fall into this category so I balanced out the fives and the way Holly and Lucy Bryan (that’s their surname, not their brother), Charli Wroe, Beth McLoughlin and Ellie Atherton began reminded me of wearing new shoes which rub. It was blistering! It was like being a spectator at the Greyhound Derby watching Ellie, Charli and Lucy sprinting down court as if they were being chased by someone they didn’t want to talk to. Their efforts were rewarded by some precision passing from Beth and Holly who both have the vision and range to create chance after chance. We were 10-0 up in less time than it takes for a Frenchman to cook a steak and when our subs (players, not boats) came on, there was no respite for the hosts who nevertheless kept their heads up and gave everything for their ever-encouraging coach. Olivia Forster, Lilja Toland and Kizzie Spence were now the greyhounds and they were being fed by Lauren Addy and Ellie Hatton who delivers the ball like a skud missile launcher.

Our uncomplicated approach saw us take the first quarter 31-6 but things were nowhere near as easy in the second period. The Warriors came out fighting and shot well from medium range as we became somewhat complacent on offense and lazy on defence in the absence of our defensive mastermind, Courtney Kenyon-Betts. We turned round 50-17 to the good with all 10 players having played roughly the same amount of time. (Although some played more roughly than others!)

Leicester made us work hard for what we got in the third but were unfortunate to find Charli in irrepressible form, scoring 12 of our 25 points in the period. The two fives sent out in the fourth both clicked like an expensive Swiss watch as we ran in an incredible 39 points in 10 minutes without even the sniff of a press to finish 114-31. No less than 6 Mystics registered double points, with a seventh scoring 8. (That sounds almost as confusing as football commentator Glenn Hoddle’s comment: ‘ They’re like sitting ducks, standing there.’)

The post-match hospitality was of the usual high standard although one or two of our girls shared the basketball more than they did the pizza! Our victory ensures a place in the last sixteen but each win in our remaining 5 fixtures, with Sheffield next up, will give us a more advantageous draw. Congratulations girls but there is still all to play for.

Many thanks to Sammy for all his help and to all taxi-driving parents for you support.

Jim Carnegie