With all teams now back WBBL action, we resume our Power Rankings with a weekly look at all the action from around the league.
Leicester Riders are still unbeaten having lifted the WBBL Cup for the first time, while BA London Lions are looking dangerous and Essex Rebels have put together a winning run.
Latest results: WBBL Championship.
[denotes position from previous week]
100% record on the season and 100% of the available silverware so far in their possession after the Riders backed up their impressive start to the campaign by beating Sevenoaks 78-67 in last Friday’s Cup final having also jumped out to a 5-0 record in the league.
Kate Oliver picked up MVP honours in a final for the third time with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, while Holly Winterburn finished with 16-8-8 and Hannah Robb netted 17 points from the bench. In five league victories, Leicester have only conceded 251 points – keeping both Newcastle and Caledonia to just 39 points in that span.
Next game: v Sevenoaks Suns (A) – CH – 20th February
The new-look Lions are starting to really make some noise in the WBBL. Four wins from four since missing out on the Cup, including a perfect 3-0 start in the league with Cassie Breen averaging 29.7 points per game with Kennedy Leonard ranking amongst the top 10 in points and assists in an assured start from their back-court.
Breen fired in 35 points in a 20-point statement win on the road in Nottingham with Mark Clark’s side continuing their winning run with a convincing display away at Oaklands last time out. The Lions continue their travels this weekend, and the big test will be when they come up against the likes of Leicester/Sevenoaks in what will be extremely anticipated clashes.
Next game: v Newcastle Eagles (A) – CH – 21st February
The Suns took a break from playing due to health concerns, and returned to action on Friday with an 11-point loss to Leicester in the Cup final with Janice Monakana firing in 25 points from the bench.
Len Busch was without conventional front-court options with Julia Koppl having departed to Germany, while Lavinia Da Silva had to quarantine upon returning from Portugal on international duty. Sevenoaks were quick to bounce back from their first loss on the season as they battled to a seven-point home win against Oaklands to stay unbeaten in the league – with another encounter with the Riders to come.
Next game: v Leicester Riders (H) – CH – 20th February
The Rebels are on the rise with three league wins in a row. They opened their season with a 31-point loss away to Nottingham before a first round exit in the Trophy, but responded in style as they avenged the defeat against the Wildcats with a 95-91 home victory to get up and running.
Carla Bieg and Andrea Kohlhaas combined for 58 in the win with Lucrezia Costa pulling down 20 boards as the early pacesetter in rebounds per game. Essex followed up the result by beating Newcastle with a strong finish before seeing off Durham for their first away success with the addition of Megan Haines boosting their talent amongst the squad with Ashleigh Munns and D’Angelique Waithe also starring.
Next game: v Manchester Met Mystics (H) – CH – 20th February
Nottingham have already played more games than anyone else so far this season with their dynamic American duo of Chelsey Shumpert and Jasmine Joyner again dominating – both averaging 21+ points per outing.
The Wildcats have turned to their academy for extended minutes and production with Siobhan Prior only featuring in two league games, while Simone Costa and Tia Freeman have also been absent. After dropping below .500, Nottingham enjoyed a double-winning weekend as they brushed aside both Manchester and Caledonia with Shumpert and Joyner combining for 106 points on the weekend.
Next game: v Durham Palatinates (A) – CH – 20th February
Two months since they last played in an impressive win over Manchester, the Archers doubled their league win tally at the weekend. It had also become a possibility that Cardiff might compete in the Cup final without *actually* winning a game, though they are said to have turned down that opportunity, during their enforced break.
Sara Jorgensen netted the game-winner to overcome Newcastle on the road with Robyn Lewis finishing with nine assists in the win. New signing Marlee Ball top scored with 19 points on debut with Shannon Hatch posting a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds to lift the Archers above .500 with their Trophy campaign starting on Wednesday.
Next game: v Oaklands Wolves (H) – TRO – 17th February
The Mystics also made their return to action at the weekend after joining Sevenoaks in a self-imposed break due to safety concerns. And, they were heavily beaten at home to Nottingham as they suffered a 34-point defeat having once again struggled to contain the threat of Joyner in the paint.
Hannah Shaw top scored with 12 points with fellow GB international Georgia Jones adding 10-9-6 with Manchester now turning their attentions to the first round of the Trophy as they visit Caledonia. They still only have one win to their name so far this season having enjoyed an impressive win against Newcastle in their league opener, in mid-December.
Next game: v Caledonia Pride (A) – TRO – 17th February
Alison Gorrell fired in a WBBL Championship record of 40 points on her way to winning the Player of the Month award for January, but results have not been going Newcastle’s way as they have slumped to a 1-6 record in the league after a mixed start in the Cup.
Delayed arrivals and injuries hampered the Eagles early on, then lost their reliable inside presence of European duo Lisa Koop and Mante Kvederaviciute to Germany. They snapped their losing run in the league with a hard-fought triumph in OT away at Oaklands, but have since lost hard-fought encounters against Essex and Cardiff to remain outside of the top eight in the standings.
Next game: v Caledonia Pride (A) – CH – 20th February
It’s been a tough, delayed start for Caledonia having played Leicester twice amongst their first three games in the league – losing by a combined margin of 84, whilst also suffering a 46-point defeat at the hands of the Wildcats at the weekend.
On the bright side, that’s three of their toughest fixtures on the schedule out the way and they did also enjoy a first win last month as they beat Durham by 18 on the road with Pollyanna Storie impressing with 19 points, nine rebounds and three assists. French guard Maud Ranger poured in 28 points on Sunday to mark her arrival after four years at Westmont College in the NAIA.
Next game: v Manchester Met Mystics (H) – TRO – 17th February
After their Cup campaign was decimated by the COVID-19 regulations with all three games resulting in forfeits, Oaklands had to wait to start their league campaign, but are without a win from four games so far.
Arizona graduate Amari Carter is starting to heat up for the Wolves, who saw Lizzy Harrison join new signing Merissa Quick on the sidelines recently. Harrison had forced overtime in an eventual four-point loss to Newcastle in their opener with further defeats coming against Leicester, BA and Sevenoaks in a tough run.
Next game: v Cardiff Met Archers (A) – TRO – 17th February
Durham were another team not to compete in the season-opening Cup competition, and they still await their first success of the season having suffered consecutive league defeats at home, though it’s obviously still early days for them and a small sample size to judge upon.
The Palatinates – who have been three-time runners-up in WBBL finals – lost by 18 points against Caledonia before a heavier loss came against Essex at the weekend with the returning duo of Kara Elderkin and Claire Paxton carrying a heavy load so far, while young talent Katie Bennett made her return from injury.
Next game: v Nottingham Wildcats (H) – CH – 20th February
All fixtures subject to change and according to official release.
*BA London Lions 0-20 Oaklands Wolves – WBBL Cup (COVID-19 regulations)
*Oaklands Wolves 0-20 Cardiff Met Archers – WBBL Cup (COVID-19 regulations)
*Sevenoaks Suns 20-0 Oaklands Wolves – WBBL Cup (COVID-19 regulations)
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Brad has been a writer for Hoopsfix since 2014 and has also had freelance roles at the BBL and with FIBA – working at two Women’s EuroBasket tournaments. Contact: [email protected]