Women’s England Basketball League Div Two North
Sunderland Predators 79
Ilkeston Outlaws 38
ILKESTON ended their campaign with defeat at Sunderland in a performance that improved vastly as the game went on.
Following a 50-18 win in the local league on Wednesday, Ilkeston’s highest score and best performance of the season, they made the long trek expecting a good performance.
That expectation was quickly dashed with their worst first half of the season - as they initially trailed 22-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Heidi Barlow got them onto the score sheet with a great inside move immediately the second stanza got underway, but it was another four minutes before Susan Hawes got the next score with Outlaws now behind 47-4.
Hawes nailed a great three-pointer at the end of the half though Outlaws trailed 41-7 at half-time.
But the second-half performance was as good as the first half had been poor.
The visitors opened brightly but missed shots dogged them again and Predators extended their lead to 51-7 before Sophie May tagged a score on the end of a break.
May, very subdued in the first-half, had picked herself up and the 17-year-old was now leading the line magnificently.
Hawes continued to bother Sunderland with her all court defence and everyone picked up their game.
A little 6-0 run started by Donna Bishop followed by two scores from May got them fired up.
The visitors continued to open attacks much earlier and Outlaws now ran a good fast break with Catherine Atkins getting on the end of the best one and her score was immediately followed by another from May.
Outlaws ended the third still trailing badly 19-66 but with their pride and belief restored with their season’s best quarter, only losing it by 12-19.
The restorative proces continued as Outlaws tore into Sunderland in the final quarter of the season.
Hawes opened with a three and a fast break finish before 15-year-old Atkins sank consecutive free throws and Bishop got another score inside.
A quiet spell saw Sunderland pull away again but Outlaws finished with an 8-0 run, another three from Hawes, back-to-back scores from Emma Chambers and a monster three from May saw Outlaws record a quarter win, 19-14, for the first time and also their closest half of the season, only losing by two points 31-33.
Hawes’ great all-round performance and 13 points earned her the Most Valuable Player selection from her team-mates. Sophie May scored 11, Donna Bishop, Emma Chambers and Catherine Atkins each scored four and Heidi Barlow got two points.
Afterwards, coach Paul Booth summed up another progressive season.
He said: “This has been a very hard second season in the EBL and we have been plagued with injuries leaving us very short of players for all away games, travelling three times with only six and having to concede three matches.
“To play next season we have to get together a healthy squad of players prepared and able to make the long trips.
“There have been some dramatic improvements but poor shooting has been the bane of the season.
“The reasons some good shooters disappeared are well rehearsed - injury, travel, work and EB’s change of a regulation lost us four great scorers.
“But training time has been doubled recently and the resulting benefits are already evident, and we’re certain we can get the current crop of players ready to be competitive in Division Two next season. “