Pride took on Essex Rebels at the Crags Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday in the first meeting of the teams this season. With Essex having had a strong start to the season, this had the makings of a tough game for Pride, but there was a lot of confidence in the camp pregame.
Despite the optimism, it was a slow start for Pride, as an early turnover gave up an opportunity for Rebels to put the first score on the board through Ashleigh Munns, before Andrea Kohlhaas converted an and-1 off a drive. However a well executed side-line out of bounds play by Pride allowed them to settle things down and get an open 2 point shot for captain Maud Ranger to get the first score of the game for the Scots. But Essex were looking to impose themselves early and they quickly extended out to a 9-2 lead.
Pride finally started to get a hold on the game around the 4:00 mark, where a driving layup by Pollyanna Storie, followed by a 3 pointer from Ranger and a pair of free-throws by Rose Harvey brought the score back to 11-9 in favour of Rebels. Harvey then knocked down a corner 3 to end a 4-0 Essex run, as it was becoming clear that Pride were up for the fight against the highly ranked Essex side. The teams traded scores through the final 2 minutes of Q1, as Rebels maintained their lead to go into the break up 22-17.
That advantage was cut to just 2 points on the opening play of the second quarter however, with Maud Ranger hitting a 3 pointer as she looked to give Pride a spark. The next 3 minutes saw the teams continue to trade 2 point scores, as Pride were unable to cut the deficit any further, before a 6-0 run by Essex saw the score move to 32-24.
A bright moment for Pride came to end that run, as 17 year old Scottish junior international Taryn Cummins got to the free-throw line in her debut game after recovering from a hip injury. But Rebels were playing with confidence and built the lead up to 10 points with 3 minutes to play in the first half. However, after foul trouble early in the game, Pollyanna Storie started to be more of a factor in the game, as she added a pair of free-throws and a mid-range jump-shot to keep Pride in contention, before a customary driving layup by Sian Phillips cut the deficit to 6 points before the half, with the score 39-33 in favour of the English side.
The 3rd quarter started in scrappy fashion, as both teams missed opportunities and turned the ball over in a scoreless 2 minute spell, before Rebels’ Deangelique Waithe got the first score on the 7:57 mark. Pride answered immediately through another drive by Phillips, however Essex then went on a 7-0 scoring run to extend the score to 47-35. Pollyanna Storie found a cutting Eabha Kerr, who finished the layup to stop the bleeding for Pride at the midpoint of the quarter, before another period ensued where the teams traded scores. But this was to be Rebels’ quarter, as a mid-range jump-shot by Kohlhaas and free-throws by Megan Haines saw them close the period with their largest lead of the game at 56-43.
Having talked things over at the quarter break, Pride came out with a new sense of urgency to open the final quarter, as a Sian Phillips steal lead immediately to a Rose Harvey floater. Pride then pressured the inbounds, causing Essex to throw the pass out of bounds and the following play led to a 3 pointer by Maud Ranger. When Rebels did eventually get the ball into the front court, Pride forced another turnover, which Ranger took advantage of by converting a 3 point play as she was fouled going to the basket and within just 70 seconds, Pride were back within 5 points of Rebels. Lu Costa scored for Essex to stop the Pride run, but Maud Ranger was getting into her flow and hit another 3 pointer to force Rebels into an early timeout in Q4.
The timeout proved to be a good one for Essex, and they immediately went on a 6-0 scoring run to re-establish a 10 point lead. Ranger’s third 3 pointer of the quarter and a layup by Sian Phillips quickly got Pride back within 5, before another 6-0 run by Rebels saw them get back to a double figures, as momentum in the final period continued to seesaw back and forth. A layup by Storie and yet another 3 pointer by Ranger moved Pride within 6 points going into the final 2 minutes of play, and Essex took another timeout to talk things over. A combination of good execution by Rebels and a lapse on defence by Pride on the ensuing inbounds saw Deangelique Waithe score an easy 2, before a pair of free-throws by Andrea Kohlhaas extended Rebels’ lead to 10 points with just 90 seconds remaining. Pollyanna Storie answered with a driving layup, but it was to be the final score of the game and Rebels took the win 74-66.
Top performer for Pride was captain Maud Ranger with 23 points, including 15 in the final quarter, to go with 16 rebounds and 5 assists. Pollyanna Storie added 14 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Sian Phillips clocked up yet another double-double with 12 points and 16 rebounds.
German guard Andrea Kohlhaas led Rebels with 19 points and sharpshooter Ashleigh Munns clocked up 18 points on 50% shooting.
Pride’s Rose Harvey spoke after the game, saying: “We fought hard and we did a better job of executing our principles and playing as a connected unit. There’s still a lot of improvements to be made on the defensive end but we are getting better with every game we play.”
Pride coach Donnie MacDonald also commented: “It’s frustrating not to get the win today when we created enough opportunities to do so. I thought we showed real character to come back into the game after Rebels had some scoring runs on a number of occasions, but ultimately a few errors at critical moments in the game killed our momentum and allowed Rebels to keep their noses in front.”
Next up for Pride is an away trip to Newcastle Eagles less than 24 hours on from this game on Sunday 14th March at 1:30pm.
Photographs courtesy of Donald Stewart