Lions Continue Breaking Records and Making History with Cup Win

The London Lions came out firing in the WBBL Cup Final against the Leicester Riders as Katsiaryna Snytsina hit back to back threes to open the scoring for London on her way to 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. The Riders kept it close in this first quarter as guard Oliana Squires poured in 10 of the teams’ 14 points in 7 minutes as the Lions held a 20-14 lead.

Oliana Squires: Photo Credit: British Basketball League

London pulled away in the second and Snytsina continued to have the hot hand as she went on a 5-0 run to start the quarter. Mikiah Herbert Harrigan got in on the three point action as she finished on 75% shooting going 3/4 from behind the arc on her way to a team high 19 points. 

The Lions entered the second half with a 22 point lead and never looked back as they continued to keep the pressure up defensively, forcing the Riders into 21 turnovers (Taylor Murray grabbed 3 steals to go along with her 12 points, 2 rebounds and 5 assists) and turned them into 25 points. 

Leicester started the fourth with a quick layup from captain Ashley Arlen (8 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists) and a Squires 3 but were unable to counter the Lions who broke the WBBL records for a total points scored (87: London v Newcastle 2022) and a winning margin in a Cup Final (40: London v Newcastle 2022) as they finished with a 53 point win. 

Holly Winterburn took home a well deserved MVP award, her first in the competition, as she became the winningest player in Cup final history with 3 victories. Finishing with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists and 0 turnovers the GB guard reflected on the experience of playing in her home country in front of a packed crowd:

“Its amazing…this year seems its taken a step up and just to have kids on the sideline wanting pictures, little boys want pictures with us, they’re inspired by us too. The crowd was really engaged and this whole buzz around British Basketball: it’s growing and its not going away and we’re just going to keep building on that and enjoy it. It’s fun to play in games like that and we’ve just got to keep building.”

MVP Holly Winterburn. Photo Credit: British Basketball League

Currently holding a 50 game winning streak in WBBL league play, the Lions will be aiming to match the success of last season where they completed a clean sweep: winning the Cup, Trophy, League and Playoffs. When asked about the path the Lions have been on since she joined them during the 2020/21 season, forward and GB representative Chantel Charles (5.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.1 apg and shooting a career high 44.4% from the field), summed it up perfectly, “It’s just been growth, the club is changing and we’re looking for a better future.”

Assistant Coach Lauren Milligan who is in her first season with London, after making the move from Oaklands in the summer, credited the all-around team effort on display from the Lions: “To have everyone on the scoreboard in a final…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before so the fact that everyone shared minutes, everyone can come in and do a role, its something very special.”

Milligan also spoke about her experience with the team in Eurocup and learning from Head Coach Mark Clark, who became the only Coach to win the Cup on more than one occasion, “I’ve learned more than I ever could have imagined going to Eurocup at such a young age and being in these situations as a young coach. I’m just forever thankful and…learning from him (Mark) is just one of the best things I could have asked for right now.”

The Lions focus will shift to their WBBL Trophy quarter final matchup next month where they face Cardiff Met Archers on Feb 15th and they’re looking forward to the upcoming competition, as Milligan says “We’re just ready for the next one already, we just want to keep it rolling.”

Postgame interview with Chantel Charles:

Postgame interview with Assistant Coach Lauren Milligan:

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