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Report: Bristol Flyers Women 44-50 Team Solent Kestrels

Despite a strong defensive performance, Team Solent Kestrels kept their unbeaten record alive against Bristol Flyers Women on Saturday afternoon.

Solent came out of the blocks attacking, making two attempts at basket in the first twenty seconds of the game, yet the Flyers made more of their scoring chances. Hannah Watkins opened the scoring, and Amani Clark later made a three to give the Flyers an early 6-2 lead.

From the start, both teams played tough and focused defence, with shot after shot falling short as a result. Flyers’ captain Trish Groves put up a big rebounding effort and Liisa Juul consistently and successfully boxed out on the defensive end.

On the other side, Ekemeni Essien and Earleesha Jackson proved to be integral parts of the strong Solent defence, both blocking every path to the basket for Bristol and making a grab for every loose ball. Jackson would finish with 12 rebounds and three blocks.

This huge defensive effort resulted in a low-scoring quarter, ending with only 21 points in total and Solent leading by one.

The Flyers upped their defensive intensity as they went into the second quarter, forcing three turnovers early on, all of which they converted into points. Imke Sittel and Hannah Till, big for the Flyers off the bench, both made shots to give them back the lead.

On defence, Hannah Watkins did not let up under the basket, while Solent’s Inga Muciniece proved to be an aggressive opponent for the Flyers’ inside players, regularly denying them in the paint.

Amani Clark made a three late in the quarter, to which Mel Curson responded with a three of her own with two seconds left in the half to level the scores at 24 at half-time.

Jodi Jerram, who played the whole 40 minutes for Solent, opened the second half making two jump shots on her way to 15 points. Liisa Juul answered Jerram’s scoring with two baskets of her own.

The missed shots and big effort on defence continued in the third quarter, yet midway through there was a period where possession moved back and forth between teams, every time ending in a made shot. There were 13 lead changes in the game, with much of them coming in these latter stages.

Amani Clark made a three point shot with less than four minutes to go to give the Flyers their biggest lead of the game at seven. Clark was the stand-out for the team with 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Solent would fight back, narrowing the Flyers’ lead to 37-35 going into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter started off following the same pattern as the rest of the game, a lot of effort on defence and shots regularly falling short. The Flyers displayed good ball handling and passing, yet were unable to convert them into baskets.

Fiona Fox was fouled making a layup in traffic, and she made the subsequent foul shot to level the score at 42 apiece.

With two minutes left, scores tied and the game on the line, the fourth awakened. The Flyers turned the ball over in Solent’s end, Hannah Watkins’ shot attempt missed, Liisa Juul made a diving rebound, possession rapidly changed hands, but ultimately Ekemini Essien took possession and put it up on the other end. She followed that up with another just seconds later to put Solent up by four.

Liisa Juul and Hannah Watkins sprang into action on defence to prevent any further damage, but Anastasia Koniali drew a foul and made one of two foul shots to add another point to Solent’s tally. 

Amani Clark put up a two-pointer which was denied by Koniali, but she would get the ball back on the subsequent possession and lay it up to make it a three-point game with thirty seconds left.

The Flyers tried to draw the game out by fouling Jodi Jerram, yet she proved successful at the free-throw line and the Flyers were unable to convert on the subsequent possession.

Liisa Juul missed the last shot of the game, leaving the final score 44-50. 

Despite the result, Women’s head coach Gareth Till was pleased with his side’s defensive effort in defeat.

I liked our defence as a team, we play hard and work together,” he told

“For us it's our offence that needs working on. We have to learn to value the ball, particularly in key points during the game. We need to be more comfortable under pressure.”

Report by Jack Ford.

Photography by Billy East