Senior Women’s England Basketball League Division Two North
Ilkeston Outlaws 33
Sunderland City Predators 78
Stockport Lapwings 102
Ilkeston Outlaws 34
ILKESTON’S senior women’s team had their best and most encouraging weekend of a tough season as they faced Sunderland City Predators and Stockport Lapwings.
On Saturday they played their first ever match at the new sports centre at Kirk Hallam Community, Technology and Sports College against fellow strugglers Sunderland.
With some players out injured Outlaws nevertheless fielded a strong team of ten including new recruit Laura Evans, who has recently moved to the area from Leicester Lady Hoops Basketball Club.
Despite a good opening spell with lots of opportunities, Outlaws’ scoring frailties again let them down in the first period.
They trailed 20-4 at the end of the first quarter when a difference of five or six would have been more indicative of the play.
Susan Hawes and Sharon Hickson had scored the two baskets and they continued to drive forward in the second ten minutes, Outlaws achieving their target of a minimum of ten points per quarter with a big improvement - a 13-22 quarter seeing them trail 17-44 at half-time.
Evans was introduced into the game for the second period and immediately showed her experience and talent despite having not played for over a year and never having trained with Outlaws.
In the third and fourth mnutes her two slash drives ran in back-to-back baskets which she followed with a successsful pair of free throws.
With Helen Oakes starting the scoring inside and a nice post move from Heidi Barlow, followed up by fast breaks from Hawes, Outlaws were looking good until tiredness kicked in late in the half and they made some poor decisions producing turnovers.
Outlaws never quite got back to their best play of that quarter but continued to play good basketball in the second-half.
They lost the third 7-21 and the fourth quarter 9-15 to finish with again their highest score of the season so far in losing 33-78.
Laura Evans, in a fine debut, was voted Most Valuable Player.
Outlaws scorers: Susan Hawes 10, Laura Evans 9, Helen Oakes 7, Emily Braisby, Heidi Barlow, Donna Bishop and Sharon Hickson two points each.
Progress and improvement as a team and for individual players was shown very clearly again at Stockport on Sunday.
Only six were able to travel to high-flyers and current national Division Two champions Stockport Lapwings, two of them being under-18s and one under 16.
None of the top three scorers from Saturday were available, but the rest of the squad were able to make up for the lack of numbers.
Stockport only fielded seven players but were much too strong for any Outlaws team.
The visitors started very slowly, keen to conserve energy with three likely to play the full 40 minutes which none of them have ever done before.
A 34-2 first quarter loss with just one basket from Demi Drew seemed to confirm the worst fears, but as ever they had played decent basketball and made chances.
In the second quarter Outlaws picked up speed and two more baskets from Drew got them rolling, while Emily Braisby nailed two from the edge of the key.
Heidi Barlow put back a rebound and Emma Chambers, having a fine game all round, sank one of her now trade mark 15-footers.
A good quarter for Outlaws, finishing 12-16, and a half-time score of 50-14.
Lapwings put on more pressure to win the third 8-26 with the highlight for the visitors being a good post move from Donna Bishop for a score followed by her successful pair of free throws – another first for the player. Barlow and Chambers scored towards the end of the quarter.
Bishop and Barlow starred in the closing period as Outlaws finished strongly, with Braisby coming in to also play her part.
The final score was 102-34 with another highest score achieved.
Emma Chambers was voted MVP for a solid and effective all round display.
Scorers: Donna Bishop 9, Emily Braisby 6, Demi Drew 6, Emma Chambers, Heidi Barlow four each.
Outlaws play Stockport again on Saturday at 4.30pm at Kirk Hallam Community, Technology and Sport College.