Junior Women struggle in second phase at Euro B
Having performed well in the preliminary games the junior women were optimistic about their chances in the next stage of the Euro B competition.
In our first game of the qualifying round we played Latvia. They had narrowly lost to Belarus in their group game by only 1pt and also lost to England. Belarus were eventual winners beating England by 2pts! Latvia were undoubtedly the strongest team we played, shooting 57% from the floor, including 56% 3pointers and 80% from the foul line. They blew us away 101-29. We struggled against their defence, turning the ball over and shooting poorly, only 22%. Claire Paxton continued to perform well, our top scorer with 11pts, supported by hard working guards Hilary Wood and Robyn Lewis with 5pts each.
This game was best forgotten and we had to look forward to our next qualifying game against Macedonia. This was a game that we needed to win if we wanted to play for a placing of 15/16th.
We watched them play previous games so we knew how they played, who their key players were and were prepared to play them. The first half we traded baskets with Macedonia just nosing ahead 33-30 at half-time. Jennifer Crawford was having a cracking game, driving strongly to the basket, scoring and drawing fouls. We’d identified their number 15 as being their biggest threat and tried to stop her getting the ball and she managed to only score 8pts in the first half. But our defence was very poor and we allowed Macedonia to score 28 of their 33pts in the paint. This had to stop in the second half and we had to pick up our defence if we wanted to win. The 3rd quarter was much better and we won it 21-13, encouraged by our supporters who were very vocal. Everyone who hit the court in the 3rd quarter played their part, working hard in defence and scoring points.
In the 4th quarter Macedonia changed to play a zone defence and we didn’t respond well. We didn’t execute our zone offences properly, with poor discipline and shot selection. We only managed to score 4 baskets. But it was our defence that really let us down, committing unnecessary fouls to send our hosts to the foul line 11times. This killed us, as they scored 15/20 from the foul line and their number 15 scored 13pts in the 4th quarter too. The stats showed that Macedonia scored 46pts in the paint and 15pts from the foul line, giving them a total of 61easy scores. We lost the game 66-59. Top scorers were Jennifer Crawford with 14pts, Claire Paxton 11pts and Hilary Wood 9pts
Our final game was against Switzerland, for 17/18th place. With Jennifer Crawford re-injuring her shoulder in her herculean efforts against Macedonia we were 1 starter down. Beth Mackie, who had also missed a game with a dead leg, started to show some consistency scoring 5pts in the 1st quarter. Her club mate, Robyn Lewis also performed well contributing 4pts and we were ahead 15-13 going into the 2nd quarter. Again lack of conditioning showed and we started to commit fouls sending Switzerland to the foul line. We also only managed to score 4baskets in this half, down 28-24 at half-time.
It was all to play for in the second half, as it was an evenly matched game. We weren’t shooting well, only managing 26% from the field and 60% from the foul line. We also continued to commit lazy fouls. We lost the 3rd quarter 9-3, down 37-32 going into the last quarter. The last quarter was also very evenly matched, Hilary Wood sparked and scored 6pts off some good drives. With contributions from her club mate, Claire Paxton and another basket from Beth, we lost the 4th quarter 16-14. We committed 10fouls in the last quarter, mainly due to fatigue, putting our opponents on the foul line. Switzerland scored 19 out of a possible 23 during the match. We lost the game 53-46, gaining the position of 18th. Final top scorers Hilary Wood 11pts and Beth Mackie 10pts.
Having performed better than expected in our preliminary round games, the results in our qualifyingand classification games were disappointing. Technically some players performed well measuringup well against their peers. Tactically we didn’t execute properly, lacking discipline at times and inconsistency. Some players showed great effort in defence for all 7games, notably Robyn Lewis, Hilary Wood and Claire Paxton. With 8 of the team still junior next year, this experience will help the team to prepare for future tournaments.
The organising committee awarded us the tournament Fair Play award, due to our positive sportsmanlike behaviour throughout the tournament. Also, well done to Hilary Wood who was 5th overall in tournament assists.