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Report: Flyers Women 64-51 Lancashire Spinners

The Flyers’ unpredictable matchup with the Lancashire Spinners left everyone feeling dizzy.

The game opened with a scrappy first quarter, with points coming few and far between and both teams vying for possession at every opportunity and attempting to turn the ball over, often resulting in fouls.

Early on, Lancashire’s Milly Knowles dominated the game. Knowles put on an impressive defensive show, doing everything she could to take possession away from the Flyers: blocking shots, grabbing rebounds and not letting up while guarding the basket. In addition she racked up most of Lancashire’s first quarter points.

Lancashire had the lead at the end of the first, but a good scoring effort from Fiona Fox – including one layup made after a nice spin move around her opponent – and Liisa Suul forcing turnovers stopped their opponents getting too far ahead.

The Flyers started to find form in the second quarter, with Hannah Till playing well on defence, Hannah Watkins strong in the paint on both ends, and Amani Clark demonstrating excellent ball control and finding the basket consistently.

Clark produced one of the highlights of the game mid-way through the second quarter: receiving an inbound ball she single-handedly took down all the way down court and put away with confidence.

Meanwhile, Milly Knowles’ dominance was challenged by her opposite number Hannah Watkins, who consistently boxed her out and took away all of her scoring chances.

Lancashire’s Rachel Clayden, who led her team in scoring with 19, made two three-pointers late in the quarter to try and stop the Flyers gaining any momentum. However, they continued to build, and Clark scored right at the buzzer to give the Flyers the lead at half time.

Trish Groves and Fiona Fox opened the scoring in the second half, giving the Flyers a 5-point lead. Fox would end the game on 17 points.

Watkins and Knowles’ clash continued into the third, with each doing all they could to deny the other the basket. Watkins led her team in a big defensive effort under the basket, resulting in the Flyers grabbing a high number of rebounds and reducing Lancashire’s scoring chances, with much of their points at this stage coming from free-throws.

With three minutes left in the third, Lancashire’s player-coach Julie Page stepped onto the court for the first time. She immediately made her presence felt, scoring seven points to go with a layup off a fast break by Emma Cheetham. This scoring run from Lancashire and a big increase in defensive intensity meant the Flyers went into the final stage of the game with a slender three point lead.

The fourth quarter began with a statement: Hannah Till sending Page to the floor on a layup attempt. The home team sending a message to the former Great Britain international they weren’t going to let her intimidate them.

For some time the scores were level at 45, but two 3-pointers from Trish Groves and a layup from Amani Clark gave the Flyers the lead back.

The remainder of the game was stilted, as Lancashire resorted to fouling the Flyers at every possession in what would be an unsuccessful strategy to try and get back into the game. The Flyers were consistent from the foul line and secured a lead that went uncontested, as Lancashire were unable to convert on offence.

Clark scored the final points of the game – taking her total to 20 – closing out a 64-51 victory for the Flyers.

Speaking afterwards, the team’s coach and players were pleased with the win but acknowledged how taxing the game was and identified key areas where improvement was needed.

Head coach Gareth Till: “It’s great to get the win, obviously, but I didn’t feel we played as well as we have. We’ve had a couple of weeks off, I think we were a little bit rusty coming in. I don’t think we had much composure today, and that happens when you haven’t played for a while, it just took a little while to get our rhythm going.

“When we come back from the break I think we need to improve our composure and execution on offence. Defence is a really good strong point, but there were lapses of concentration on offence. We just need to focus on basic fundamental basketball, and if we do that well and we execute well, good things will happen for us.”

Guard Sandra Yebdi: “I think today we didn’t put out heads down like we would have in previous games, but even though at some point we were ten points down we still got it together, stuck together and got back in the game.”

Captain Trish Groves: “Throughout the game the referees were calling a lot of fouls, both teams had players in foul trouble going into the third and fourth quarters, and that definitely slows down the game and gets you out of your rhythm.

“We made a lot of progress the last couple of games, but today it seemed we made a lot of mistakes, and that’s something we need to work on.”

Report written by Jack Ford.