Monday, March 26th 2018
Bristol Flyers Women suffered a heart-breaking loss in their final home game of the regular season, which also put a dent in their playoff plans
A win would have guaranteed a second-placed finish in the league, but they faced tough competition in Southwark Pride, a big rival also vying for second.
It was a defensively-minded game right from the off, with both teams working hard to guard opponents, protect the rim and jump on loose balls. Early on, Emily Short played the best defence for the Flyers. While on the other end, Fiona Fox had good looks early on in the paint, but could not convert them into points.
The first points in the game came from the free-throw line for Southwark, then came threes from captain Kadijah Conteh and Mia Sarkodee-Adoo. With the Flyers 8-0 down, Maialen Ansoain Zilbeti threw a down-court pass to Liisa Juul, but she was blocked on the layup attempt. Juul then got a shot to drop in traffic, giving the Flyers their first points of the game five minutes in.
Molly James three-point attempt went in off the rim and before time in the first was up, she made a pass to Hannah Watkins, who then handed it off to Fiona Fox for the layup. This brought the low-scoring first quarter to an end, with the Flyers behind six points to 12.
Conteh opened the second quarter with another three for Southwark. For the Flyers, Fiona Fox and Hannah Watkins got shots to fall for them from close range, with Watkins also having success on the defensive end. Molly James was fouled on the fast-break layup, and made the and-one, bringing the Flyers to within two.
Southwark’s tough defence meant the Flyers had to look for outside chances, but they had trouble getting their long-range attempts to drop. Mai finally made a shot, after a number of missed attempts, which reduced the deficit to two. Southwark responded instantly with a two-point jumper, and on the next possession a three-pointer from Molly James made it a one-point game. Mai ended the scoring in the first half with a three, and Flyers finished trailing 22-25.
Southwark opened the second half with four missed chances in a row, beginning a run of making mistakes and easily losing possession. Fiona Fox made a steal and a fast-break two to tie the scores, and after Maya Hyacinth made another basket for Southwark, Liisa Juul initiated another break and handed off to Mai for another game-tying two.
Hannah Till handed off to Fox for another close-range two, putting the Flyers in the lead for the first time in the game. No sooner were they in front, though, did they give away an easy layup for Kadijah Conteh. Hannah Watkins then put the Flyers back ahead with a tip-in, and as time in the third wound down Conteh, Mia Sarkodee-Adoo and Ashana Hinds gave Southwark a three-point lead. Unable to get a final shot off in time, the Flyers finished the third 33 points behind to Southwark’s 36.
The fourth quarter opened with a basket in the paint from Hannah Watkins, off the connection from Sandra Yebdri. This was followed by five points in a row from Molly James, on her way to finishing with an impressive 13 points. Fiona Fox grabbed her own rebound and made a layup, beginning a six-point run from her. With 14 points, Fox finished as the game’s top scorer.
Maya Hyacinth got shots off from close range, then nine unanswered points from Jahnara Hall saw Southwark back on top by five. As well as working hard on defence, Liisa Juul made a jumper two and then collected the ball after a missed three attempt from Molly James and layed it in for two more.
With a minute to go the Flyers were down 50-53, the win was still within reach. However, Chandera Jones-Aryeh hit from the foul line, and Southwark quickly found themselves ahead by seven. Esther Oluade made a final corner two, and that would be it.
It was a great effort from the Flyers to stay in the game for so long, but it fell away from them right at the end. Despite the loss, they will still make the playoffs, but not in the position they would have liked. As the league separates teams on head-to-head results, Southwark will finish ahead of the Flyers in the final standings, having won both games between the two this season.
“We weren’t as good as we needed to be today and paid the price," head coach Gareth Till told bristolflyers.co.uk.
There was a lot on the line, Southwark have always been difficult opponents for us and we just didn’t handle the pressure."
We’ll remember this in future - that we had the best chance to have everything work out for us in the playoffs and we let it slip. Today’s loss is a big reminder that if we want to win and beat tougher opponents, we have to step up and make the absolute most of our chances.”
Keep up to date with the Flyers Women as they make their playoff push via their official Facebook page.
Bristol Flyers Women are always on the lookout for new players, coaches and volunteers. Anybody who's interested and committed is always welcome to join the Flyers Family. Contact Flyers Women at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Jack Ford. A recent member of the Flyers Family, Jack has been volunteering with Bristol Flyers writing game reports on Flyers Women for the website and game day programme.
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