Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016

Under 18 Women showing great potential in Euro B

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Under 18 Women showing great potential in Euro B

Scotland Junior Women FIBA Euro B Championships, Strumica, Macedonia 

Group D games 

Game 1 v Germany, a tough introduction to the Euro B competition. We only arrived the night before after over 24hrs of travel via London and Sofia, so were in no way accustomed to the heat on the court. The Germans have proved to be an efficient outfit and they showed this in our match. We started slowly, with the Germans pressing and running their fast break. We ended up down 47-19 at half-time. Our focus for the second half was to limit their fast break and tighten up on offence. Our second half performance was much improved, but we struggled to score due to the German pressure. Final score Germany 80 Scotland 32.

 We could now look forward to a rest day and time to adjust to playing in the heat. Game 2 v Montenegro. On our day off we had watched all our other opponents play to assess their abilities. We felt that this was a game we could win so went out with a positive approach. We started very well, with good composure in offence, looking for our transition plays and working hard in defence. We had a very good first quarter winning 20-11. Sarah Thomson was shooting well from the perimeter, Hannah Peacock had some nice moves inside and Claire Paxton was also executing her jump shot well. Hilary Wood and Robyn Lewis controlled the game well from the point as well as hustling hard in defence. We led the half 36-28. Unfortunately starting power forward Jennifer Crawford picked up some fouls along with back-up centre Gemma McCrea which meant other players had to play more minutes. Also, guard Ailie Gardener had injured her knee and was unable to play. This was a major factor as we tired in the second half and were unable to maintain our focus in offence. We did work very hard in defence but gave up too many fouls, allowing the Montenegrins to score 17pts from the foul line. So after a very promising start we lost 53-66. The team were gutted as we really felt we could win this game.

Game 3 v Ukraine. We knew they are a team with a strong basketball pedigree and this would be a tough game. The team started solidly with some good plays to the basket picking up fouls from the Ukrainians. An unfortunate incident off a screen led to the Ukraine’s key forward injuring her nose and unable to play for the rest of the game. Half-time we were down 32-19. We had rested key players in the first half, experience gained from the previous game as we didn’t want to fade in the second half. Coach Lorna Norman set the players the challenge of winning the second half and what a second half we had! Everyone worked hard on defence, which is so key, stopping Ukraine’s fast break and limiting their half court game. We improved our boxing out and getting over screens, then Captain Hannah Peacock had an immense block which inspired the team. We had Ukraine worried, as at one point we were within four points of them and limited them to only score 10pts in the 3rd quarter, which we won 12-10. In the fourth quarter we kept working and gained confidence from our 3rd quarter performance. We stuck to our team objectives, scoring in transition and executing our offences. But our first half performance left us too much ground to make up. We did win the fourth quarter 15-13, winning the second half 27-23. As the final buzzer neared, Coach Norman instructed the team to get the final score to single figures and they did, losing 55-46. Another loss but a significant performance from Scotland which gained admiration from many officials and other coaches. We had 2 players in lead positions in the tournament stats; Hannah Peacock scoring percentage and Hilary Wood assists, with Sarah Thomson 4th in assists. This was very encouraging considering we’d lost 3 games. 

Game 4 v Lithuania, another European basketball powerhouse. We knew England had played them a few weeks ago and watched these tapes, as well as watching Lithuania in our group matches. After coming so close to Ukraine the team believed we could do well against Lithuania. The Lithuanian guards are very quick and clever in offence and we worked hard to limit their scoring. It was an evenly matched first half with improved performances from Beth Mackie, Claire Paxton and Gemma McCrea. Also our point guards, Robyn and Hilary, contributed massively, scoring in offence and working incredibly hard in defence. We lead the 2nd quarter but allowed Lithuania to come back and were 31-31 at half-time. In the second half we were physically tired and fouled in defence, allowing the Lithuanians many opportunities from the foul line. They scored 23pts out of a possible 29. We did score the most points in a game yet, 58, but just couldn’t match the Lithuanians and lost the match 58-82. Coaches were generally pleased with the majority of the team’s performance in our tough group games. Players have worked very hard in defence, especially pressuring opposition guards for 4 games. Our offence has improved through better execution and reading of situations on court.

After a rest day we will play against Latvia and Macedonia in the classification round for 9th to 18th place. Follow their progress online via FIBA.

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