Ilkeston Outlaws 31
Mansfield Giants 83
Ilkeston Outlaws’ local rivals Mansfield Giants were the visitors at Kirk Hallam College on Saturday in the senior women’s England Basketball League.
Mansfield had won the the fixture last season at a canter and Outlaws were determined to do better this time.
It didn’t begin well as Giants went four ahead before Louise Bradley replied for Outlaws.
Six more came from the visitors before Jo Gregory got one for Outlaws which spurred Giants to an 11-0 run.
Outlaws’ man to man defence was not coping well with the tremendous height and strength advantage Mansfield have and ended 6-24 behind at the quarter’s end.
A change in the second quarter to a new zone defence brought some extra bite to the home team’s defence and although Mansfield continued to keep the score rolling they were having to work much harder for every point and Outlaws caused turnovers and got away on fast breaks much better.
The quarter score of 8-19 was an improvement but the new resilience of the defence was hopeful.
Helen Oakes had scored twice with Donna Bishop and Sharon Hickson also getting on the scoresheet.
Half time Ilkeston 14, Mansfield 43.
Outlaws persisted with the zone throughout the rest of the game and grew in confidence with it.
Mansfield’s superior height and experience enabled them to work the ball around and eventually get it into a big player, usually Levitt who had 28 in the game.
Outlaws’ 13 in the third was a good score for them but even though they made many forced errors, Mansfield still racked up 27.
Oakes got two more baskets in this quarter for her best game of the season, Emily Arshamian and Bishop each scored, Natalie Lebeter continued her season’s great run with another two out of two from the free throw line and Sue Wild got her first point in the EBL from the line.
Offensively Outlaws were poor in the final quarter with only four points, a free throw each from Lebeter and Arshamian and a fine driving lay-up from Demi Drew but the best defensive quarter of the game saw them hold Giants to only 13 points in the final ten minutes for a final score of 31-83.
Natalie Lebeter was yet again voted MVP by the team in her final match before setting off for work in France.
Coach Paul Booth said: “Natalie will be greatly missed. She has been an excellent captain and one of the main driving forces in the team on and off the court for the last three years.
“She was in the original team formed in 1999 to represent Erewash in the Derbyshire Millennium Youth Games and through graduating at a local university she was able to be an ever present, along with Susan Hawes, in the team that continued after most of the original squad went to uni.
“The Outlaws players all wish her well in France and hope she returns next season.”
Scorers: Helen Oakes 8, Donna Bishop, Sharon Hickson and Louise Bradley 4, Natalie Lebeter and Emily Arsamian 3, Demi Drew and Jo Gregory 2, Sue Wild 1.
Outlaws now have a break from EBL until the long trip to Newcastle on 17th Dec but are very busy in the local Maid Marian league in the next three weeks.