The Manchester Met Mystics ended their regular season campaign with back to back wins over Caledonia Pride and Newcastle Eagles this weekend. The Mystics finish with a 10-10 record in 5th place meaning they face the Nottingham Wildcats in the first round of the playoffs which take place on May 1st/2nd in Newcastle.
Caledonia travelled to Manchester, out of the playoff picture at 3-14, but hoping to add to their win column and improve on their 3-13 record from the shortened 2019/2020 season. The Pride hit the first points of the game after an early Ella Doherty three but Georgia Jones quickly answered for the Mystics and tied the game with a three point play of her own, driving to the basket and getting fouled on the made shot. Tough defence from Dominique Allen, Rosie Hynes (both with that Jo Leedham column work) and Vanessa Akra forced Caledonia into turnovers and a 6 point second quarter. Akra was a force on the boards all game tying her career best 10 rebounds, (v London Lions Nov 2019) and included 5 on the offensive glass. Rheanne Bailey and Jade Mbam also helped out on the boards finishing with 3 rebounds each as Manchester stayed in control taking a 41-20 lead into halftime. Helen Naylor and Jones both led the way with 11 points each in the first half.
Caledonia came out strong in the third, outscoring the Mystics 18-16 but it wasn’t enough and Manchester came away with a 69-51 win. Helen Naylor led for the Mystics in scoring, with a fantastic season high 25 points and 13 rebounds in just under 23 minutes of court time, earning her the Brand 161 & Bondi Bowls Mystics MVP. Post game Naylor spoke about the things the team did well and their focus on the playoffs:
“I felt like we ran really well today, we got a lot of fast breaks and if we can get easy points like that and not have to try and score in half-court then that’s always a positive. I think we’re heading in the right direction but still more work to do this week.“
Regarding playoff seeding and who they want to face:
“We’ll take anyone on…we’re keen to play Nottingham as we’ve lost to them everytime we’ve played this year and we didn’t play well the last time we played them and we felt like we could win that game. So we’d like to play them and get that revenge i think! “
Pollyanna Storie led the Pride in scoring with 15 points and 6 rebounds while Maud Ranger added 11 and 13. Caledonia will play their final game of the season against league leaders Sevenoaks on Wednesday.
On Sunday the Mystics headed to Newcastle to take on the Eagles where Naylor followed up her best game of the season with…her second best game of the season! A 20 point, 8 rebound and 5 assist performance helped lead the Mystics to an 86-60 win to finish off the regular season and secure the 5th seed.
Manchester trailed for most of the first quarter before taking the lead with under 2 minutes to go off the back of a 3 from Naylor. The Mystics never looked back and Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee scored 6 of the Mystics first 8 points to open the second half. Fong Lyew Quee joined in on the Mystics season high action with 23 points (6 threes on 60% shooting) and added in 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Some suffocating defense from Sophia Song meant the Mystics were able to hold the league’s scoring leader Alison Gorrell (23.7 ppg.)to just 9 first half points with one made 3 and the rest coming from the line. Song has been a great addition for the Mystics this season, a player who has the ability to play any role required of her on the team and steps up to the challenge every time. She finished with 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists. The second half saw Manchester outscore Newcastle 47-33 with Georgia Jones (16 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals) and Hannah Shaw (10 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block) finishing in double figures.
Gorrell led the scoring for Newcastle with 22 points 9 rebounds and 4 assists while Maddy McVicar had 17 points, 2 rebounds and an assist. The Eagles were shorthanded without key players Orieoma Chukwu-Etu and Jorjah Smith (who travelled home to Australia earlier this week) and the loss puts them in the 8th place playoff spot meaning an unenviable matchup against the 18-1 Sevenoaks Suns.
The playoffs begin on May 1st and Manchester will be eager to make a statement against Nottingham who have beaten them each of the four times they faced off this season. All the games will be shown on Sky Sports via YouTube.
After the Caledonia game, the Mystics End of Season Awards winners presented by Bondi Bowls were announced:
MVP – Georgia Jones
Defensive Player of the Year – Vanessa Akra
Debut Season as a Mystic – Sophia Song
Club MVP (Voted for by the players, coaches, volunteers and Mystics partners)- Nat Feurtado
Brand161 are a Basketball apparel and team wear clothing brand from Manchester: Instagram: @brand161mcr / Twitter: @brand161mcr