During my frustrating 2 and a half hour 60 mile journey to our home game against Hatfield Fliers, arriving 5 minutes before tip-off to find all of my pre-game jobs/routines all covered perfectly, it struck me that I am in the privileged position of being around two wonderful teams- players and parents. Thank you so much James, Jim, Sam, Carys and anyone else who contributed to ensuring the game went ahead on time. Having arrived at the ABC like 3 of Snow White’s dwarves- Grumpy, Anxious and Stressed- I firmly believe my negative state of mind didn’t help our players during the first quarter. Hatfield’s side is virtually the same one that performed well as a largely under-age group last season. The experience they gained would make them a hard nut to crack. It appeared even harder when they used their length and ability off the dribble to cause us huge problems for the opening 10 minutes, scoring a staggering 24 points.
Defensively, we had performed as effectively as wet sellotape but, fortunately, had been good enough offensively to keep in touch with 19 points of our own, thanks largely to the skill of Charli Wroe, Nia Molloy and Kizzi Spence. Up to now my contribution had been as worthless as Monopoly money and we all needed to pull our socks up.
Hatfield’s excellent guard, A Racjan opened the scoring very early in the second period to make it 19-26 and many teams at this level would have lost belief. It takes mental strength and togetherness to turn things round against talented opponents. I am pleased to say that this Mystics U14 team has both attributes in abundance. Defensive adjustments and greater focus henceforth resulted in a huge improvement in all aspects of the team display. An almost faultless 9 minutes of team basketball deservedly manifested itself in an eye-catching 22-6 run with Olivia Forster, now at her best, accompanying the unstoppable Charli and the all-action Nia in their quest to make up for our under-par beginning. Credit must also go to Esher Nayar for the superb defensive job she did to limit the problems A Swift had previously caused us. (Swift by name and Swift by nature!) The ever-reliable duo of Lily Hayes and Daisy Bryan (shame we haven’t also got any players named Rose or Poppy because I could then label them as a fine bunch!) were equally instrumental in repelling Hatfield’s offensive weapons so that by half-time we had transformed a 7 point deficit into a 9 point lead in a mere 9 minutes, an outstanding team performance, particularly when one considers that 9 Mystics, including 6 under-age players, had so far seen court time. (Not for crimes committed!)
Our dominance continued throughout the third period. Zara Mesada-Tate and Lia Vourliotis came off the bench to perform with real energy and intent. Jo and Eleni Vourliotis, between them, gave us rebounding strength, an ability to move the ball quickly and accurately and a scoring threat. Everybody else, except the injured Daisy and the absent |Emily Wood, also played their part in helping us to extend our lead by a further 12 points to a very comfortable 65-44 going into the final stanza.
Mid-way through the fourth, more fluent offense and determined defence had given us an unassailable 31 point lead at 77-46 to cap a phenomenal 58-20 run against one of the leading sides in the Northern Conference. This prompted regular and multiple substitutions which understandably impacted on our rhythm, allowing our gallant opponents, who kept going right to the end, to take advantage, making the final score somewhat more respectable at 82-57.
Sincere thanks to all for your help and support, including the fabulous post-game banquet! Next up, Mystics II 9th December now at 3:30pm not 1:00pm.