Sevenoaks basketballers have achieved a remarkable double in WBBL after capturing their first ever title, writes Andrew Tong
SEVENOAKS SUNS have achieved a remarkable double after they won the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL) play-off final against Nottingham Wildcats at the O2 in London last weekend.
The triumph crowns a season of great achievement for the club – they won their first ever title when they beat Leicester Riders in the WBBL Trophy final in March.
Len Busch’s side were down 12 points in the first half against a highly talented Wildcats side, but a dominant third period set the platform for a 70-61 victory.
Cat Carr was hugely influential for the Suns and finished with 20 points and a play-off final record of 14 rebounds along with six assists.
WBBL young player of the year Gabby Nikitinaite scored 15 points and Ta’Yani Clark 14, putting in a big performance at both ends.
The turning point came in the third quarter as the Suns stepped up their defence, forcing multiple turnovers as they held Nottingham to just two points in the period.
Clark put Suns ahead at 46-44 and they scored the final eight points of the quarter to lead 52-44.
Danish forward Anne Pedersen made it a 10-point game with the first points of the fourth before the league champions hit back with a 7-0 run.
Carr came up with huge back-to-back baskets before finding Pedersen inside and she stretched the lead to 63-51. Fom there Sevenoaks held on to secure the title.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said head coach Len Busch, who was named WBBL Coach of the Year. “They’re an amazing group that never get rattled and find ways to win.
“It’s been a magical season and this game summed it up. We started poorly, we talked about it and fixed it, playing some pretty good defence.
“We have a great group and it’s been a wonderful ride.”
For Clark it was two play-off final victories in a row after she won with Team Northumbria last season.
Clark, who was unable to play last year due to injury, was relieved to have another shot. “It’s a great feeling,” she said. “It was good winning with Northumbria last year but being able to play this time around and contribute is a -special moment.
“We have a great group and to finish the way we have is incredible.”
Clark came up with a number of key baskets and stops on the defensive end to prevent Nottingham from improving on their 12-point gap.
Down six at the half, the Suns came storming back and showcased their desire and determination to never give up as they produced an astonishing third quarter display.
“We started slow, but we’re used to that – we nicknamed ourselves ‘the comeback kids’,” added Clark.
“It shows the grit we have and that we can find a way to win close games. Nobody expected us to win, but we have put in a lot of hard work and believed in each other.
“At the start of the season, even we wouldn’t have predicted we would be finishing here with two trophies.
“It’s a great achievement and something we will all remember.”