WBBL Run-In 1.0: Regular season hits final stretch after All-Star break - Hoopsfix.com

WBBL Run-In 1.0: Regular season hits final stretch after All-Star break

There are just six weekends left of the Women’s British Basketball League regular season as full focus returns to league action following the All-Star break.

Trophy winners London are the frontrunners in the title race, but Caledonia and Leicester are still very much in the mix, while four teams are separated by one win at the bottom in the race for the playoffs.

Here’s a look through each of the 11 teams as we head into the final stretch:

[Q] 1: London Lions (12-0)

The Lions remain on course for a third successive clean sweep of WBBL honours, and potentially a second perfect league campaign in three seasons. Such is the gulf, London can heavily rotate and they will have more than half an eye on the upcoming EuroCup Finals clash with Besiktas in April.

Their biggest league test came against Sheffield when they found themselves down 10 at one stage – with several starters absent – but Temi Fagbenle was huge (particularly throughout February) for London as they eventually won by 18. The title is not a foregone conclusion, but it’ll take something special to stop this team in its tracks – with Caledonia next welcoming the champs to Scotland on Easter Friday.

Last five games: ✅✅✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: A v Gladiators – 29th March; H v Rebels – 31st March; A v Wildcats – 6th April; H v Giants – 14th April; H v Wolves – 17th April; A v Hatters – 21st April; H v Gladiators – 28th April; H v Archers – TBC

[Q] 2: Caledonia Gladiators (12-1)

On one hand, the Gladiators are in a very strong position with just the one loss to their name in the league so far, but on the other, their remaining schedule includes facing London and Leicester twice each. Win out, and they will be champions – easier said than done of course, though they were the last team to beat the Lions domestically (back in February, 2023).

Caledonia have quietly gone about their business all season; a deep roster that contributes all the way down the bench – rarely do you see, or do they need, a big individual scoring display with seven players averaging between 7.5 and 11 points per game. They have plenty of experience, and that could prove vital down the stretch.

Last five games: ✅✅✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: A v Rebels – 23rd March; H v Lions – 29th March; H v Eagles – 31st March; A v Archers – 6th April; A v Riders – 14th April; H v Riders – 21st April; A v Lions – 28th April

[Q] 3: Leicester Riders (12-2)

The Riders have momentum on their side with six straight league wins since losing to London at the start of February. They haven’t played since the start of March and won’t play again until the final day of the month, so it will be interesting to see how they respond to this break with double-headers with Sheffield and Caledonia amongst their final six encounters.

Taylor O’Brien has been in top form – firing in 29 points in the victory over Newcastle at the Mattioli Arena, while Sam Ashby and Raven Peeples have also been impressive during this streak – with Marissa Hamilton also returning to the lineup. Leicester will fancy their chances of maintaining this strong run and are realistically fighting for second spot at this stage.

Last five games: ✅✅✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: A v Hatters – 31st March; H v Rebels – 6th April; A v Wildcats – 13th April; H v Gladiators – 14th April; A v Gladiators – 21st April; H v Hatters – 27th April

[Q] 4: Sheffield Hatters (10-4)

The Hatters locked up their place in the playoffs once again, with their 10th league victory last time out. Their import additions have been very solid this season with Germany’s Emma Eichmeyer and American Madison Washington consistent performers in the front court for Sheffield.

Melita Emanuel-Carr has had some standout shooting performances of late, and Vanessa Ellis’ side have proved how dangerous they can be at times this season – their 20-point victory over Caledonia being a highlight. They still play the Riders twice in the final month, so climbing further up the table is not out of the question just yet – especially with a run of four straight at home.

Last five games: ✅✅✅❎✅

Remaining schedule: A v Eagles – 23rd March; H v Giants – 24th March; H v Riders – 31st March; H v Palatinates – 7th April; H v Lions – 21st April; A v Riders – 27th April

5: Essex Rebels (9-5)

Essex are virtually assured of another place in the post-season, and maybe this is the year they can break their playoffs duck. They would love a home quarter-final, but successive defeats – including against Sheffield – has derailed their strong position somewhat.

Kat Tudor has been an excellent pickup for the Rebels this season; the quick-release sharpshooter has knocked down 40 threes in the league – boosted by netting seven in a recent 37-point outburst against Manchester. This is the deepest roster the Rebels have had in the WBBL, but being without Tyra Whitehead and Darcy Rees has hurt them in the frontcourt – and the top three teams loom on the upcoming schedule.

Last five games: ❎❎✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: H v Gladiators – 23rd March; A v Lions – 31st March; A v Riders – 6th April; H v Palatinates – 14th April; A v Wolves – 20th April; H v Archers – 27th April

6: Newcastle Eagles (6-8)

It’s been a familiar story at times for the Eagles with injuries playing a major role, but their season has stabilised with the key additions of Tierra Hodges – leading the league with 21.9 points per game – and ex-Archers guard Lauren Saiki – leading the league with 6.7 assists per game.

Three wins in their last four has given Newcastle some breathing room in the race for the playoffs, with four of their final six games against teams below them in the league. They return to action by hosting Sheffield this weekend before a double-header on the road against Durham and Caledonia on Easter weekend.

Last five games: ✅✅❎✅❎

Remaining schedule: H v Hatters – 23rd March; A v Palatinates – 30th March; A v Gladiators – 31st March; H v Wolves – 13th April; A v Archers – 20th April; H v Giants – 27th April

7: Manchester Giants (4-10)

The Mystics era transitioned into the Giants era off the back of just one league win last season, but this has been a vastly improved team this season. They have been depleted at times – particularly on the road – and have the added blow of losing Sydney Hunter to an early departure ahead of a move to Australia.

Marg Jones’ side ended a losing run with a key victory away at Cardiff to maintain their place in the top eight with Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus and Idil Turk starring. The Giants still play Nottingham, Oaklands and Durham among their final six games (just the one at home), so the battle for the playoffs could go right down to the wire.

Last five games: ✅❎❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: A v Hatters – 24th March; A v Wildcats – 31st March; A v Wolves – 6th April; A v Lions – 14th April; H v Palatinates – 20th April; A v Eagles – 27th April

8: Nottingham Wildcats (4-12)

The good news: Nottingham’s last league win was against one of their playoffs rivals, and lifted them into the top eight. The not-so-good news: Nottingham have played more games than their rivals with just four left.

’06-born guard Valerie Cassidy de Falco starred in the recent victory over Oaklands with 22 points, while Jiselle Havas has proved a valuable late addition. The Wildcats missed out on the playoffs for the first time last season, but three straight wins reignited their current campaign and their next two are bordering on must-win territory.

Last five games: ✅❎❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: A v Archers – 23rd March; H v Giants – 30th March; H v Lions – 6th April; H v Riders – 13th April

9: Durham Palatinates (3-10)

Durham find themselves on the outside looking in ahead of the final month with just one league victory from their last nine games. The Palatinates sit second bottom in scoring (64.3 PPG) and last in assists (12.5 APG) with Janika Griffith-Wallace doing a lot of the heavy lifting in the scoring department with eight 20-point games so far.

Of their remaining seven games, only one is against a team in the top four, while they also play Oaklands twice – including on the final weekend. Durham have a settled core with the likes of Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby and Elle Hendershot knowing what it takes to help their side finish strong to make the post-season.

Last five games: ❎❎❎✅❎

Remaining schedule: A v Wolves – 23rd March; H v Eagles – 30th March; A v Hatters – 7th April; H v Archers – 13th April; A v Rebels – 14th April; A v Giants – 20th April; H v Wolves – 27th April

10: Oaklands Wolves (3-10)

There was a lot of promise at the start of the season for Oaklands, but their most recent loss away at Nottingham is a sign of their current predicament – having now lost six league games in a row, and fallen outside of the top eight in the playoffs race.

However, their remaining schedule is favourable – particularly looking at the next three all being at home with a chance to regain some momentum. All-Star duo Caterrion Thompson and Allison Day will no doubt play an important part, while having New Zealand international Amy West back in the lineup could also be key.

Last five games: ❎❎❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: H v Palatinates – 23rd March; H v Archers – 30th March; H v Giants – 6th April; A v Eagles – 13th April; A v Lions – 17th April; H v Rebels – 20th April; A v Palatinates – 27th April

11: Cardiff Met Archers (0-13)

At this point, it’s more about getting that first win on the board rather than looking at the playoffs picture after what has been a tough campaign for the Archers. Haylee Saurette – who was an All-Star reserve – has been a standout for Cardiff in a rookie season with 18.3 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in league play.

The Archers are lacking the required depth, but have produced some improved displays of late – pushing Durham to within four points and keeping pace with Manchester for large stretches. They return to action with games against Nottingham and Oaklands to round out March, and could present their best chance of avoiding finishing the season without a victory.

Last five games: ❎❎❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: H v Wildcats – 23rd March; A v Wolves – 30th March; H v Gladiators – 6th April; A v Palatinates – 13th April; H v Eagles – 20th April; A v Rebels – 27th April; A v Lions – TBC

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