SUNDAY FEB 10
GIRLS UNDER 14 NATIONAL LEAGUE – MIDLAND SOUTH DIVISION
Having not played together for five weeks, Southend Swifts under 14 girls knew they would be in for a tough battle when they met third in the table Ipswich Bobcats at Eastwood Academy. Southend had recorded a hard earned 14 point win when the teams met earlier in the season.
And difficult it certainly proved early on, as Swifts struggled to find any fluency. Passes went astray and scoring opportunities spurned as Ipswich led 10-3 after four minutes. But almost as suddenly, the young ladies remembered what they are capable of. Amber Evans, captain Emily Gaskin and Zoe Willis dominated at both ends of the court and a 12-4 run took Swifts 15-14 ahead. Four of the last six points gave Southend a 19-16 lead.
The second period would be much more like the usual fare. Tenacious defence kept the Suffolk side scoreless for seven minutes. Changes of personnel looked seamless, with the intensity maintained. Sasha Cornell, Alicia Medina-Smith, Kacey Realf and Grace Crook all came in to make meaningful contributions. The ball moved quickly between the players and at half time it was 36-20; a 23 point turnaround in 16 minutes of play.
Despite Evans carrying three personal fouls, she had her team’s first six points as the teams traded baskets, with the scoreline at 43-28 after seven minutes. A sloppy spell saw Ipswich score six straight to reduce the deficit to 43-32 and the momentum with the visitors. However, a time-out, and seemingly some harsh words, had the desired effect and a 10-2 run over the final two minutes made it 53-34 with one period to play.
As always, Swifts took the opportunity of getting their younger players onto court. This time it was year 7 student Georgia Powell to take part and she acquitted herself very well against bigger and stronger opponents. After four minutes, it was 59-40 and the game settled. Ipswich, to their credit, continued to battle, but there was no way back as Southend maintained their 100% record with a 63-55 win that was never as close as the final scoreline would indicate. Willis 22 points, Evans 21 and Gaskin 11 leading the scoring.