Mystics short trip to play Tameside’s second string last Sunday turned out to be as comfortable as fur-lined slippers, as it was always likely to be against very young opponents. Tameside tried very hard and, unlike Charli’s mum’s washing machine, kept going but were unable to cope with our all-round fire-power which was as explosive as expensive Chinese fireworks.
In a game where we gave away more fouls (16) than points (15), our sternest test was trying to decipher which colour markings were basketball appropriate. The court floor was covered with so many lines that they could easily have been painted by Picasso during his psychedelic period after a heavy night out! The lines were even more confusing than in any Shakespeare play, especially as the usual choice of red or black had both been overlooked in favour of yellow which could be spotted if you squinted!
Despite the huge margin of victory, we began as if our 5 starters had been partying throughout Saturday night. I called an early time-out and reminded our zombie impersonators to forget the jelly and ice-cream and get down to business. Thereafter, for the most part, we were focused and incisive. Although the game was as one-sided as a straight line, both teams did gain something positive from it. As is our custom, at no time did we press Tameside which allowed them to have plenty of possession and prevented them from feeling completely overwhelmed. For us, Ellie Atherton and Courtney Kenyon-Betts, two of our defensive king-pins (or queen-pins?), shone offensively along with 4 of the 5 our players who are still eligible to play at this level. Charli Wroe, Olivia Forster, Lilja Toland and Kizzie Spence combined to score 54 of our 115 points which bodes very well for 2017-18. Herein, some credit must be afforded to 3 of our more prolific scorers, Holly and Lucy Bryan and Beth McLoughlin who were all happy to put the team first and take a back seat offensively. I was pleased to note a huge improvement in the defensive contribution made by Lauren Addy and Ellie Hatton, both of whom were excellent in this department today.
With a mere 3 conference games remaining, we are now sure to be seeded in the top 7, even if we slip up badly and lose all 3 tough opponents – Nottingham, Tameside and Derby. This gives us a home tie in the last 16. Who we face obviously depends on whether we lose 3,2,1 or none of those games. Lose 2 or 3 and we will be seeded 7 and be at home to the 10th seed which could well be Tameside. Lose 1 and we’ll be seed #4 and at home to seed 13, probably Derby. Win all 3 and we’ll be seed #1 and at home to seed 16, probably Hatfield. Get through the last 16 round and last 8 opponents may be Sheffield at home for #1 seeds, Haringey at home for #4 seeds or Richmond away for #7 seeds. All this is based on educated guesses on my part but won’t be far off.
Thanks to Sammy and James for their superb assistance and to our loyal band of supporters.