A double header over the weekend saw the Sevenoaks Suns split their two games following a 91-69 defeat at home to league leading London Lions and a 68-54 victory against the Oakland Wolves.
It all began on Saturday afternoon as the Suns battled hard against the strongest team in the league, but saw the game slip away from them in the fourth quarter.
Led by Janice Monakana’s 18 points, they kept it a close exchange throughout with the first three quarters being decided by five points or less.
After two early misses, the Suns went through an efficient stretch, scoring on four of their next six attempts. There was early success from beyond the arc for the home side with Renee Busch, Judit Fritz and Monakana all converting from downtown to give themselves an early 11-8 advantage. As a result, the Lions were unable to get any success in transition, and in the absence of point guard Taylor Murray, struggled to get into a good rhythm.
However, they were able to remain close, but the Suns’ ability to get to the free throw line gave them the edge in the first quarter as they took a one-point lead.
An opportunity to pull away in the second presented itself, as a 12-2 run in the middle of the quarter increased the deficit to eight. But when you come up against a team as talented as the Lions, it is difficult to keep them quiet for long. They scored 14 straight points to completely swing the game back in their favour, with a six point lead.
Despite this, the visitors were dealt a huge blow as former Trophy Finals MVP Holly Winterburn went down with an ankle injury and could not continue.
The setback would not deter them, though, as they continued to pile on the pressure, but the Suns were able to cut the lead back in half to three at the interval.
Two triples from Monakana in the first few minutes soon turned the tide yet again, but as the game has shown, things can change very quickly. With the score line 55-50 in favour of the Suns with five minutes to go in the third quarter, their opponents took back control and extended their lead to a then game-high of nine. Sevenoaks managed to cut it back down to eight by the end of the period.
Unfortunately for Len Busch’s team, they couldn’t keep up the same intensity for all four quarters and the Lion’s quality on both ends shone through. The defensive energy turned up a notch, and it had an effect on the Suns’ offense as they were often forced late into the shot clock. Ty Battle and Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan led the way on offense, combining for 15 of the Lions’ 24 fourth quarter points. Ultimately, the game ended quite comfortably for their team as they ran out 22-point victors.
Hoping to bounce back immediately, the Suns welcomed the Wolves on Sunday and did so by beating them by 14 points.
Monakana put in another strong performance with 16 points, but it was Brittany Hodges off the bench who starred with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Suns were much improved from the day prior, with a much more fluid offense proving difficult to stop for the Wolves. Guard Jorjah Smith hit a three on the Wolves’ first possession, but the hosts asserted their dominance, with Monakana and Araion Bradshaw accounting for 12 of the 19 points.
A slender two-point lead quickly grew in the second, as pressure was increased, especially through the great work of Hodges. This produced an 11-point half-time advantage.
They continued in similar vein in the third, although Oakland refused to let the game slip, cutting the deficit back down to single digits. However, the Suns prevailed, holding them to just nine points in the fourth, as they shifted the focus to defence.
Following a weekend of mixed emotions, the Suns will now prepare for another double header over the Easter Weekend, as they travel to Cardiff to face the Met Archers before hosting the Leicester Riders.
Author: Angelia Ronayne