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Report: Bristol Flyers Women 58-44 Team Solent Kestrels

Bristol Flyers Women’s excellent run of form continued at the weekend against Team Solent Kestrels.

The Flyers had won four of their last six fixtures and were looking to put their loss of the previous week behind them, while Team Solent Kestrels have not been in the same championship-winning form they were last season: they arrived at Brunel Academy with a 4-10 record and only six players in their rotation


WHAT HAPPENED

Stephanie Ellis and Hou Yu gave Solent an early 6-0 lead. The Flyers were doing well to box out, but their passing was off and shot after shot failed to drop, until Hannah Till gave them their first points four minutes in.

Becky Cantin grabbed a rebound off a missed shot from Solent’s Chloe Lammas and handed it to Mai Zilbeti, who in turn passed to Liisa Juul, who found Cantin again in the paint for two points - one of the moves of the game.

With a minute and a half to go in the first, a jump shot from Trish Groves made it a two point game, to which Chloe Lammas put Solent back up by four moments later.

Hannah Watkins took to the floor for the first time this season, having been side-lined with injury, and made a jump-shot from ten feet out right at the death to leave just two points separating the teams at the end of the first period.

The Flyers’ passing problems followed them into the second quarter, but their game was about to change. Hannah Wallace made a fast break basket, then intercepted a pass and laid it up, and no sooner had her last shot gone down did Molly James make a steal off Chloe Lammas and hand it off to Wallace for two more in the paint, giving the Flyers their first lead of the game.

The Flyers did well to force Solent players to give it away during the game, and their stealing skills were best on display at this point in the game. The team managed an amazing 26 total steals, the most coming from Liisa Juul who had seven, along with ten rebounds. One notable steal came when Mai went to the floor trying to take the ball from Andrea Kurkowski: she won the ball and somehow managed to get it to Hannah Wallace, who then handed it to Molly James for two. 

Five points from Fiona Fox put the Flyers up by ten, but Chloe Lammas ate into this lead with a three-pointer. Solent got the ball back quickly, but Hou Yu missed her unguarded layup attempt. A final basket from Hannah Wallace capped off an excellent quarter from the Flyers, in which they outscored Solent 20-7 and led at half-time 29 points to 18.

Mai Zilbeti opened the third quarter with four unanswered points, and Trish Groves blocked a layup from Chloe Lammas on the other end. Six players made baskets in the quarter, including Molly James who had two successive threes, and Hannah Wallace who made another layup this time off an intercepted inbounds pass.

Solent’s Earleesha Jackson and Captain Andrea Kurkowski kept finding gaps in the Flyers’ defence, and Hou Yu made a jump shot off a lovely spin move, but there was no real consistency from the opposing team and their defence had become a little sloppy. Stephanie Ellis of the Kestrels made the last points of the quarter, but the Flyers were still ahead 49 to 36.

Chloe Lammas made a field goal ten seconds in to the fourth quarter - she would finish as the game’s top scorer with 14. Fiona Fox threw a down-court pass to Hannah Wallace, who laid it up and in after three-and-a-half minutes, but apart from this move it was a very nervy final period.

Solent monopolised possession, making the Flyers’ defence work hard, but they still fought to win the ball at all costs. Defensive pressure from both teams resulted in a streak so cold it had snow on it; there were far less shot attempts, let alone points being made. 

Even with the drought, the conclusion to the game became very fast paced with possession regularly changing hands. Hannah Watkins scored the last basket in open play, with a floating shot in traffic, and a last-second block by Trish Groves on Stephanie Ellis brought an end to proceedings with the Flyers on higher ground.

Leading the Flyers with 12 points, creating chances and showing great on-court awareness, Hannah Wallace exemplified why she has been a sensation for the Flyers this season.

“It was a higher intensity game for us - which we needed after last weekend,” she told bristolflyers.co.uk.

“We worked well as a team and moved the ball better on offence. We maybe needed to score a little more in the last quarter, but we took most of the chances we had and we put the pressure on, which eventually gave us the win today.”

Head Coach Gareth Till added: “Sometimes you get off to a bad start, but you’ve got to make the most of the time that’s left to try and put it right.

“Our middle spell was our best bit of the game, for about 25 minutes we played really well then the game got a bit scrappy, which I didn’t particularly like, but being back to winning ways is the most important thing.

Gareth Till

“When a team plays you a certain way, you have to adapt, so we had to make sure to regroup and keep our concentration. You want to win by as much as possible and get a good team rotation as well, so defence has to remain tight, but we can do so much better as well. That’s why we can get a little frustrated, because we’re capable of so much more.”

The next home game for the Flyers Women will be against the Loughborough Riders at the WISE Arena at 4pm on Saturday, February 17th, immediately before the Flyers’ BBL matchup against the Glasgow Rocks.

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 flyerswomen@gmail.com 


About the contributor

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.