The WBBL Run-In 2.0: Three spots remain in the playoffs -

The WBBL Run-In 2.0: Three spots remain in the playoffs

The first weekend of April saw another spot in the WBBL playoffs locked up with the games continuing to come thick and fast.

Six successive days of WBBL action take place across the Easter weekend from Thursday-Tuesday as the outlooks for the title race and battle for the playoffs could look a bit clearer.

Here’s the latest look at the current outlook for each team:

[Q] 1: London Lions (14-1)

Two more wins for the Lions in their title charge as they defeated Sevenoaks and Sheffield in contrasting fashion. They needed a 10-24 fourth quarter to pull away from the Suns for an eventual 22-point road success before an emphatic 87-48 home victory having led by as many as 43 points.

Leslie Vorpahl starred across the two games with 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game after stepping up following an injury on Saturday to Holly Winterburn – one that is not believed to be season-ending. Games against Newcastle and Nottingham follow this weekend as the fate of the league title continues to seemingly edge towards the Lions-Riders meeting on April 16th.

Remaining schedule: H v Eagles – 9th April; A v Wildcats – 10th April; A v Palatinates – 15th April; H v Riders – 16th April; A v Gladiators – 19th April; A v Mystics – 22nd April; H v Palatinates – 23rd April

[Q] 2: Leicester Riders (14-2)

The Riders powered past Newcastle at home to open their weekend and then were handed a day off following the forfeit of Manchester. McKenzie Johnston scored her team’s first 11 points of the fourth on the way to a season-high 19 points as Leicester secured a 16-point success to move to 13-2 – which soon became 14-2.

Krumesh Patel’s side have a chance to put the pressure back on London when they host Durham on Thursday night before a run of four games against teams in the top five begins on the road at Sevenoaks. They still either need the Lions to slip up or to claim the head-to-head at the Copper Box in a couple of weeks, but the title race is heading down to the wire.

Remaining schedule: H v Palatinates – 6th April; A v Suns – 10th April; H v Gladiators – 15th April; A v Lions – 16th April; A v Hatters – 22nd April; A v Wildcats – 23rd April

[Q] 3: Caledonia Gladiators (13-3)

The Gladiators improved to 13-3 to stay in touching distance of the top two after grinding out a nine-point win on the road against Manchester Met Mystics. Tea Adams is believed to have top scored again in the win with the American guard enjoying a purple patch of scoring form.

Caledonia face an intriguing double-header with Sheffield over the Easter weekend with two wins almost certainly securing a top three league finish. Seeding for the playoffs will be important and with games to come against Leicester and London still, the Scottish side can’t be ruled out of anything just yet.

Remaining schedule: A v Hatters – 7th April; H v Hatters – 9th April; A v Riders – 15th April; A v Suns – 16th April; H v Lions – 19th April; H v Rebels – 22nd April

[Q] 4: Sheffield Hatters (13-4)

The most dramatic of mixed weekends for the Hatters. Helen Naylor was the hero – and not for the first time – on Saturday with a late triple securing a two-point victory at Durham before missing Sunday’s game as Sheffield were heavily beaten away at London.

They remain in fourth place going into a home-and-away battle with Caledonia this week which could help determine the outcome of third spot. Karly Murphy continues to tear it up on the glass with the runaway league leader in rebounds approaching the 250-mark for the campaign.

Remaining schedule: H v Gladiators – 7th April; A v Gladiators – 9th April; H v Rebels – 15th April; H v Wildcats – 16th April; H v Riders – 22nd April

[Q] 5: Sevenoaks Suns (12-6)

Sevenoaks were right with the league-leading Lions in the first half, but eventually ran out of steam in a 22-point home defeat. They bounced back the following day to beat Oaklands by 14 as a Brittany Hodges double-double helped secure their place in the playoffs.

Len Busch’s side still have four games to play including two against sides above them as they look to claw their way back into the top four in order to avoid a first playoffs quarter-final on the road (excluding the COVID season) since the 2015-16 season.

Remaining schedule: A v Archers – 8th April; H v Riders – 10th April; H v Gladiators – 16th April; A v Eagles – 22nd April

6: Essex Rebels (8-9)

A rare weekend off for any team at this stage of the season, the Rebels can regroup for what they hope will be a strong finish heading into the playoffs. Of course, their spot is not quite guaranteed just yet but they can take a major step towards doing so over the next week as they host Oaklands before a huge clash in Cardiff.

Remaining schedule: H v Wolves – 8th April; A v Archers – 11th April; A v Hatters – 15th April; H v Mystics – 16th April; A v Gladiators – 22nd April

7: Newcastle Eagles (8-9)

One win, one loss on the weekend for the Eagles, but it was a vital victory over fellow top eight hopefuls Durham having been 10 points behind at one stage. Newcastle found their offense at a crucial time with 25 points in the fourth to help secure a five-point triumph after their loss at Leicester 24 hours earlier.

Antoinette Lewis produced a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds in the home win with Courtney Clasen adding 14 points with the Eagles still dealing with injuries. They face a trip to the capital to take on London on Sunday before a huge run of games that includes a double-header with Cardiff and Durham.

Remaining schedule: A v Lions – 9th April; H v Archers – 15th April; A v Palatinates – 16th April; A v Archers – 22nd April; H v Suns – 23rd April

8: Cardiff Met Archers (7-11)

The Archers pulled out a crucial win on the road in a major boost to their hopes of making the playoffs – coupled with Durham losing twice. Stef Collins’ side weathered an early storm in Nottingham to come away with a 75-79 success as Lauren Saiki starred with a 30-point haul along with nine assists.

Leading Young Player of the Year candidate Issy Bunyan contributed 22 points and five steals with Shannon Hatch adding 11 points and 15 rebounds to help Cardiff claim their seventh league win of the season. They host both Sevenoaks and Essex over the Easter weekend with just four games remaining.

Remaining schedule: H v Suns – 8th April; H v Rebels – 11th April; A v Eagles – 15th April; H v Eagles – 22nd April

9: Durham Palatinates (5-10)

Durham lost ground in the playoffs race over the weekend with two defeats – including against Newcastle – while also seeing Cardiff add another win to stretch the gap. The Palatinates came agonisingly close to pulling off a major win at home to Sheffield before a costly late three, while they also led for large stages away at Newcastle.

Elle Hendershot finished with a stellar double-double of 18 points and 15 rebounds in the North-East derby, but it wasn’t enough for Durham, who still face the busiest remaining schedule. They play three times in five days over the coming week including against the two teams at the bottom of the league standings.

Remaining schedule: A v Riders – 6th April; A v Wildcats – 8th April; H v Mystics – 10th April; H v Lions – 15th April; H v Eagles – 16th April; A v Wolves – 22nd April; A v Lions – 23rd April

(e) 10: Oaklands Wolves (4-15)

The Wolves made a fast start on the road in Surrey before going down by 14 points against Sevenoaks. Grace George put up a defiant 17 points and 14 rebounds in the loss as their playoffs ambitions were mathematically curtailed.

Oaklands still have three games to play in search of ending their campaign on a high note with further opportunities for their young contingent to test themselves at the top level. Cassidy Gould is also closing in on setting the club’s single-season league scoring record, which currently belongs to Roya Rustamzada.

Remaining schedule: A v Rebels – 8th April; A v Wildcats – 15th April; H v Palatinates – 22nd April

11: Nottingham Wildcats (3-14)

The Wildcats are still in the post-season hunt, but only just as their slim hopes took a further dent in a close defeat at home to Cardiff on Saturday. Kayla Shaw fired in 18 points in the first quarter before finishing with 25, while Mari Stewart posted 20 points and 18 rebounds as the duo continued their strong form.

The four-point loss means Nottingham hold the head-to-head with the Archers but are now four wins adrift with five games left to play – three of which are against teams in the top four. They host both Durham and London over the weekend as a first post-season without the club in WBBL history could be officially confirmed.

Remaining schedule: H v Palatinates – 8th April; H v Lions – 10th April; H v Wolves – 15th April; A v Hatters – 16th April; H v Riders – 23rd April

(e) 12: Manchester Mystics (1-18)

The Mystics are officially out of playoffs contention with just the solitary league win to their name. They suffered a nine-point loss at home to Caledonia before forfeiting their scheduled fixture with the Riders – the second occurrence of the season (previously against London) with injuries cited.

Three games now remain for Manchester, starting with a trip to face Durham on the road on Easter Monday in a rescheduled game from the end of March.

Remaining schedule: A v Palatinates – 10th April; A v Rebels – 16th April; H v Lions – 22nd April

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