WBBL Run-In 2.0: Giants, Palatinates still alive in playoffs race - Hoopsfix.com

WBBL Run-In 2.0: Giants, Palatinates still alive in playoffs race

It’s the final month of the Women’s British Basketball League regular season with lots to be determined over the coming weeks.

London are closing in on another league title in the midst of their historic European title, while there are still three places up for grabs in the race for the playoffs.

Here’s the latest outlook for each of the 11 teams:

[Q] 1: Caledonia Gladiators (15-2)

The Gladiators may occupy top spot, but any hopes of winning the title were all but squashed in a 35-point home loss to London on Easter weekend. Caledonia still play the Lions on the final day of the regular season, but they’ll be wanting to make sure of second place given their other two encounters are against the Riders.

Away from just their second league loss, it’s been business as usual for Caledonia with routine victories over Essex, Newcastle and Cardiff. Kirsty Brown top scored in their win over the Rebels by 10 on the road before enjoying big victories over the Eagles and Archers – Hannah Robb starring with 19 points in the most recent outing.

Last five games: ✅✅❎✅✅

Remaining schedule: A v Riders – 14th April; H v Riders – 21st April; A v Lions – 28th April

[Q] 2: London Lions (14-0)


London’s primary focus has been on their European campaign, and it ended in the sweetest of victories in beating Besiktas on Wednesday. They have been flawless domestically and dismissed any talk of a title race with a crushing 51-86 win in Scotland before easing past Nottingham last weekend with Abby Meyers netting 15 points in each game as part of a deep bench effort.

They go into the weekend with an encounter against Manchester on Sunday sparking a run of three games in four days – all to be played at Oaklands – though they will have to wait a little longer to secure the regular season title, even with three more wins added. It also remains to be seen who will be available with Karlie Samuelson and Megan Gustafson understood to have now departed.

Last five games: ✅✅✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: H v Giants – 14th April; H v Rebels – 16th April; H v Wolves – 17th April; A v Hatters – 21st April; H v Archers – 23rd April; H v Gladiators – 28th April

[Q] 3: Leicester Riders (13-3)

Leicester’s six-game winning run came to an end upon their return to action at the end of March as they were beaten by fellow top-four side Sheffield. However, they returned to winning ways by grinding out a low-scoring victory over Essex with an impressive defensive display to bounce back – McKenzie Johnston led the way with 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

The Riders are firmly in the mix for a top-two finish with Caledonia (twice) and Sheffield on their remaining schedule, but first make the short trip to take on an in-form Nottingham side to start the weekend. These battles could well serve as a pre-cursor for the end-of-season playoffs, so plenty is at stake for bragging rights.

Last five games: ✅❎✅✅✅

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

[Q] 4: Sheffield Hatters (14-4)

Sheffield are hitting their stride at the right time with four more wins added since the last update to take their unbeaten streak to seven games. The most impressive triumph in the recent run was their 78-70 success against Leicester with Desiree Ramos netting the final 12 points to finish with a game-high effort of 25.

The Hatters had beaten Newcastle and Manchester in a double-header the previous weekend, while their most recent outing saw them ease past Durham behind a balanced attack as six players were in double figures. Their final two games see them host London before the return trip to Leicester, which could prove crucial in league placing ahead of the playoffs.

Last five games: ✅✅✅✅✅

Remaining schedule: H v Lions – 21st April; A v Riders – 27th April

[Q] 5: Essex Rebels (9-7)

The Rebels officially have that Q next to their name after they were mathematically assured of a top eight finish. However, the Trophy finalists have now dropped four straight league games after recent defeats to both Caledonia and Leicester in the midst of some key injuries.

Essex lost by 10 at home to the Gladiators before an eight-point loss to the Riders in two low-scoring tight affairs. Kat Tudor top scored with 15 points in 40 minutes against Leicester with the Rebels kept to 34% shooting. Momentum can be huge at this stage of the season and they’re still in with a chance to at least match their best-ever league season in terms of wins (12).

Last five games: ❎❎❎❎✅

Remaining schedule: H v Palatinates – 14th April; A v Lions – 16th April; A v Wolves – 20th April; H v Archers – 27th April

6: Newcastle Eagles (6-11)

Successive victories in March have been followed by three straight defeats as the Eagles are dragged right into the tight battle for the playoffs. Newcastle were edged out by Sheffield in a two-point loss at home before a seven-point loss against Durham preceded a heavy loss to Caledonia in their double-header on the road last time out.

Tierra Hodges keeps putting up big numbers for the Eagles, while Marina Fernandez moved into second spot on the club’s all-time league charts in both scoring and assists. While their place in the post-season is far from assured, their remaining schedule sees them play three teams below them in the standings – including huge home games against fellow playoffs hopefuls Oaklands and Manchester.

Last five games: ❎❎❎✅✅

Remaining schedule: H v Wolves – 13th April; A v Archers – 20th April; H v Giants – 27th April

7: Nottingham Wildcats (6-13)

The Wildcats will become the first team to complete their regular season on Saturday, and will be left to nervously await their fate over the final two weeks. But Karen Burton’s side have definitely giving themselves a great chance of making the playoffs after putting together a crucial three-game winning run.

Nottingham backed up a vital victory over Oaklands by beating Cardiff by 18 points on the road, and then securing a 13-point home win over top eight chasing Manchester as Brooke Bjelko starred with 28 points and 14 rebounds. Their run was halted in an emphatic loss at home to London, and they round out a testing campaign at home to Leicester, where even a win might not be enough for a top-eight finish.

Last five games: ❎✅✅✅❎

Remaining schedule: H v Riders – 13th April

8: Oaklands Wolves (5-11)

Oaklands are back on the right side of the playoffs cut-off line as they finally put back-to-back wins together for the first time this season. After six losses in a row, they ended the streak with an important 84-71 victory over Durham before backing it up with a more convincing win against Cardiff.

Caterrion Thompson fired in 28 points in the win at home to the Palatinates, and would surpass her season best with a 32-point outing along with 13 rebounds against Manchester, but the Wolves fell to a seven-point defeat to halt their charge. Three of their final four games are on the road, including against both Newcastle and Durham in games that could prove decisive.

Last five games: ❎✅✅❎❎

Remaining schedule: A v Eagles – 13th April; A v Lions – 17th April; H v Rebels – 20th April; A v Palatinates – 27th April

9: Manchester Giants (5-12)

Manchester finally found joy on the road as they defeated Oaklands in a major boost to their playoffs hopes, after falling to defeats against both Sheffield and Nottingham to end March. They only had seven available players for the trip to Oaklands, but had valuable contributions throughout the roster – led by Hannah Shaw’s 17-point performance – as they gained the head-to-head in the process.

It’s not inconceivable for Manchester to make the post-season without winning another game, but they will be targeting their final two battles with Durham and Newcastle as must-win contests. Meanwhile, Georgia Anderson has only played in a handful of away games this season, but is closing in on being the first player to register 1000 assists in the WBBL regular season.

Last five games: ✅❎❎✅❎

Remaining schedule: A v Lions – 14th April; H v Palatinates – 20th April; A v Eagles – 27th April

10: Durham Palatinates (4-12)

The Palatinates are still alive, just. With four games to go, they are a win behind eighth placed Oaklands and will welcome them to the North-East on the final weekend. Just one victory from their last five games, but it was very much needed as they earned a seven-point win over Newcastle behind 23 points from Katie Bennett.

Previously, Durham had lost out to Oaklands by 13 points, and the points differential could play a major part in determining the final playoffs spots. Lee Davie’s side were well beaten last time out against Sheffield, but host Cardiff at the weekend and also still have to make the trip to Manchester on their schedule.

Last five games: ❎✅❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: H v Archers – 13th April; A v Rebels – 14th April; A v Giants – 20th April; H v Wolves – 27th April

(e) 11: Cardiff Met Archers (0-16)

It’s continued to be tough going for the Archers as Stef Collins’ side look to be heading to a winless season. Cardiff have been officially eliminated from playoffs contention after three more defeats, but top eight hopes have not really been a likelihood for some time.

Cardiff went down by 18 at home to Nottingham before further heavy losses came against Oaklands and Caledonia with Abigail Yunker, Haylee Saurette and Lara Habling top scoring in the three encounters. Only four games remain in order to pick up a first win – starting in the North-East of England against Durham.

Last five games: ❎❎❎❎❎

Remaining schedule: A v Palatinates – 13th April; H v Eagles – 20th April; A v Lions – 23rd April; A v Rebels – 27th April

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