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Another win for the Suns in close victory against Championship rivals

Sevenoaks Suns returned to league action with a 57-54 victory at home to the Sheffield Hatters.

After advancing to the semi-finals of the WBBL Trophy last weekend, the girls followed it up with a close fought win on Saturday to continue their unbeaten season.

In what was their toughest game of the season so far, the Suns condemned their championship rivals to just their second defeat of the season, largely thanks to 17 points apiece from Cat Carr and Renee Busch along with some great defensive work.

It was a tied first quarter, in which both teams struggled from the floor, shooting just a combined 34%. Cat Carr started the game strong, scoring 7 of her team’s 15 points.

A pair of turnovers for each team began the second period, as another low scoring quarter meant the score line remained close. With neither team able to create any sort of momentum or lead, the Suns went into halftime up just a single point.

The third quarter allowed the Suns to finally capitalise on Sheffield’s shooting woes, as they managed to create some separation. As a team they shot 7-15, and restricted their opponents to just 18FG%. Renee Busch dominated, scoring 12 of her 17 points in this quarter alone. The home side went into the final 10 minutes up six.

An efficient final quarter was not enough to make it a comfortable victory, as the Hatters’ gritty defense made for a difficult ending. Despite making 55% of their shots, they did so on only nine field goal attempts, which along with seven turnovers, allowed their rivals to cut into the deficit and outscore them.

A lay up from Hatters guard Georgia Gayle made it a one possession game with just a minute to go. Another turnover gave the visitors an opportunity to tie the game with 35 seconds on the clock as Ebony Horton found herself at the free throw line. However, she split the pair giving the Suns a one point lead.

Knowing the Hatters would get the final possession, the Suns were in need of a bucket and with the shot clock winding down, Janice Monakana capped off her 10 point performance with a clutch jump shot to put her team up three.

Twelve seconds remained for the league’s third best team to tie the game, but a missed three point attempt from Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee meant the Suns came away victorious in what was a very satisfying win.

All but one starter contributed double figure points, and despite being held scoreless, Frankie Wurtz made a huge defensive impact collecting 13 rebounds.

Following the game, Coach Len Busch and assistant Kapil Kumar gave their thoughts on the win.

Busch: ‘This was a terrific game with a very good Sheffield team today, they’re extremely physical and hard fought. Both teams struggled offensively at times.

‘I was just really proud of the resilience that our players showed, battling through some adversity and managing to get the win in the end.

‘There were some terrific individual efforts, Julia Koppl had a great game inside, and Renee Busch was outstanding on defense. Cat hit some big shots in the fourth quarter and Janice Monakana knocked down a big shot at the end as well.

‘It was good for us, we’ll be able to go back to work, work on a few things. We always have to match the intensity of these other teams, because they come at us with everything they have.’

Kumar added, ‘It was a nice win against the Hatters, in what proved to be both a competitive and physical game. Hatters as we know have a good team and they came out playing an aggressive defence which troubled us in places. But it’s always good to win the close ones! They’re the ones you remember!

‘The team as ever have been working hard at practice and today’s win is a nice reward for the intensity that they have shown this week. Sometimes though, you need players to step up when the team’s under pressure and take control, and that’s what we saw today.’

Another home game awaits next weekend, this time against the Oakland Wolves, as the Suns look to improve to 13-0 on the season.

Author: Angelia Ronayne

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