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Sevenoaks Suns have advanced to the semi-finals of the WBBL Trophy following an 76-81 win away to the Essex Rebels. The victory sets up a tie with the Leicester Riders as they look to advance to the final.

It was a well fought and even game throughout, but the Suns managed to come out on top despite being without two key players in Jamila Thompson and Judit Fritz.

Janice Monakana led the Suns with a game high of 24 points, and started off hot with six in the first quarter. However, they struggled to build a lead with Rebels guard Claire Paxton contributing 9 points to help tie the game 19-19 after ten minutes.

The second quarter started a lot similarly to the first, with both sides exchanging buckets with neither able to produce any type of run to pull away. Len Busch’s team threatened to do so towards the end of the period, leading by as many as six points, but the hosts were able to get to the line and hit some big shots to close the half only down by two.

Essex struggled from the field in the third quarter, shooting 6/21, which allowed the Suns to open up a 12 point lead, but a late layup from their leading scorer Deangelique Waithe cut the lead to ten.

A high scoring final quarter provided an entertaining finish, however Essex’s shooting woes to begin the half proved decisive as they weren’t able to get close again as the Suns’ lead ballooned to 18. The Suns cruised to a 15 point victory to book their place in the next round.

With a shorthanded bench, it required a strong effort from the entire team, but they delivered with every starter adding at least double figure points. Julia Koppl and Frankie Wurtz’ 18 and 17 points added to Monakana’s 24.

They dominated in the paint, with a whopping 50 of their points coming from close range, more than their opponent’s total.

In such a close match, defense was hugely important and the Suns showcased why they are amongst the best as they held their opponents to just 36% from the field. They also outrebounded the Rebels 51-38, spearheaded by Cat Carr’s 15.

Following the game, Carr gave her thoughts on what was a spirited performance from her and her teammates.

‘I’m proud of the way we played today, we were without Jam & Judit who are major parts of what we do, so we had to grind it out and get it done.

‘In the second half we were able to string some stops together, get to the free throw line and get the ball inside. Those were the keys to our success tonight.’

Wurtz echoed her captain’s sentiments, adding:

‘I thought that was a great team win for us against a very good Essex team. After a close first half, it was important to start with a strong third quarter.

‘Essex does a really good job of changing up how they defend and I think we did a really good job adjusting to that in the second half.

‘I thought we all stepped up and were very balanced and executed the game plan really well and did a really good job of answering their runs when we needed to.’

Next up it’s a return to league action, as the Suns prepare to host the Sheffield Hatters in their first meeting of the season, looking to maintain their position at the top.

Author: Angelia Ronayne

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