Having not bounced, thrown or kicked a ball (or an opponent) for 3 weeks due to annual festivities, Mystics U14 I were back in action at Stockport’s Ball Hall last Saturday. With all 12 Mystics ready, willing and able, my biggest headache wasn’t caused by a hangover but how to give each of them the court time their thoroughly positive attitudes deserve. More by luck than judgement, all 12 had sufficient minutes to show their worth.
Indeed, 5 of them – Kizzy Spence, Olivia Forster, Lily Hayes, Charli Wroe and Emily Wood – excelled offensively to score in double figures while 3 – Esha Nayar, Eleni Vourliotis and Zara Masadeh-Tate – gave us valuable rebounding strength to compliment the usual enthusiasm and boundless energy we have come to rely upon from Nia Molloy, Lia and Jo Vourliotis and Daisy Bryan. Their contributions were particularly effective in our attempts to curb Stockport’s lively offense.
As is often the case following a lengthy lay up, sorry, lay off (plus too much chocolate), we took longer than normal to find our cutting edge. Offensively, in the initial stages, we failed to do total justice to the opportunities provided by the superb passing of Lily, Charli and Olivia and we really should have ended the first quarter in a stronger position than the 18-8 we managed.
Stockport battled hard in the second period during which the 2 Lily’s (Hayes for Mystics and Gilronan for Stockport) blossomed. (No report is complete without a flower-related pun.) Our help defence remained as patchy as a Friesian cow but we still contrived to go into the half-time break 37-18 to the good with Kizzy looking sharp at both ends (which makes her sound like a very dangerous sword!) Her decision-making was also much-improved, particularly in terms of when to share the ball and when not to take on the rest of the world single-handed.
Prior to the resumption, we discussed ways of upping our defensive intensity. No sooner said than done! The girls immediately turned theory into practice, conceding just 8 points in the second half with everyone playing their part. Our finishing was also more clinical which resulted in 53 points over the 20 minutes. This was a very useful run-out for us as we prepare for an important clash at Leeds on Saturday.
Thanks to everyone for your help and support.