The Sevenoaks Suns were crowned the 2018 WBBL Champions after a devastating performance over the Leicester Riders at the o2 Arena on Sunday with a final score of 44-69.
It took three minutes for the opening basket to go in the WBBL playoff final and fittingly it was Cat Carr the league MVP to break the deadlock. Carr assisted the two following baskets, dropped by Clark and Julia Koppl to give her side an early 6-0 advantage.
The Riders halted the run at 6 but through a Kate Oliver basket but Clark and Carr forced a timeout with two more quick buckets.
Carr extended her side’s lead to 11 points with a three-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet, demonstrating just why she was awarded the MVP award shortly before the tipoff.
The dangerous Holly Winterburn drained the Riders’ first triple of the game but Carr would show off her speed going end to end after stealing the ball to finish despite an excellent chase down effort from Winterburn.
With the Riders held to just 5 points and the Suns in the bonus, Patel made changes bringing on three bigs which seemed to do the trick as the gap was brought back to 7 points thanks to McGarrachan and Round to end the first quarter.
The second term started as the previous one with Cat Carr putting points on the board. Carr had 10 points in the opening term leading all scorers. The Suns had a 15 point advantage at the midway point of the quarter with Carr and Clark, as they had in period one, controlling the game.
Resistance from the Riders came in the form of Jamila Thompson who was working hard in the painted area but the Suns were a class above in the opening half with any resurgence being halted with an individual moment of brilliance either inside or a shot from range. Pressley bagged the final basket of the opening half, a corner three showing off the range of skills in this Suns side as they led at the half 20-38.
Carr immediately set about building the gap in the second half bagging the first points with Thompson getting them back at the line. The Riders closed the gap to 16 with a turnover from Carr and a great reverse layup finish from Winterburn. The two sides set about trading buckets as the game came to life.
The final quarter got underway with the Suns holding one of their biggest leads up 20, which was soon added to thanks to a long three from Pressley who was showing off the full range of her ability in the win.
The Suns had made the game comfortable but the fourth quarter was an exclamation point on their victory as they prevented the Riders from scoring whilst continuing to attack with relentless pace and effort. With the game all but finished Busch took the opportunity to rotate his roster.
Winterburn was a constant presence for the Riders as she fought hard to keep her side in touch as she would finish the game with 12 points, but the clear MVP of the game was Cat Carr who finished with 19 points and they were both withdrawn from the game to applause with a minute left in the game.
The final seconds ticked off the clock with the stars of the game on the sideline as the Sevenoaks Suns were crowned WBBL Playoff Champions for 2018 after a complete team victory.
Head Coach of the Riders Krumesh Patel looked crushed after the game and lamented a slow start. “It was a difficult one today, its always been a battle facing Sevenoaks throughout the year and we knew it was going to be a tough one today. They came out firing and we didn’t start how we normally do and they kept pushing, there was no let up from them, even when we got a little bit of a burst they kept pushing back.”
Head Coach of the Suns Len Busch, calm as always quietly reflected on the victory. “I’m very happy. All along we’ve talked about trying to be the best team at the end of the season and that was the case, that was our best 40 minutes of basketball of the season at the right time. I think it was probably the result of experience and the maturity of our players. The moment wasn’t too much for them, it brought out their best.”
Finals MVP Cat Carr looked back on a second finals MVP and finals victory. “Its great, I give all the credit to my teammates. We try to be each other’s biggest hypeman and we just try to get behind each other. I think people were gunning for us at the beginning of the year when they saw all the players we signed so its great to come out and prove that we got it together and can do it.”
Interviews to follow.