Taunton Tigers Women completed their second win in 2 weeks when they defeated Guernsey in a pulsating and close game of basketball on Guernsey's adopted home court of Southampton.
This is the first time this season that Tigers have played the Guernsey representative side, which recently finished a creditable 6th place in the World Island games held in Rhodes. This is Guernsey's 2nd season in the National League and their involvement in the English Basketball League is a major logistic exercise for this heavily sponsored side, which flies in every other weekend to play one away game and one home game, before jetting back to the Channel Islands.
Although it was Guernsey who put the first points on the board, Tigers got off to a great start — driving strongly to the hoop and putting the Guernsey defenders in early foul trouble as they opened up a 13 – 6 lead by the 7th minute. A timely intervention by Guernsey Coach Ogier refocused the Channel Islanders and they hit 8 unanswered points to ease into a quarter lead at 14 – 13 as Tigers points dried up inside.
Things went from bad to worse at the start of the second quarter for Tigers as they attempted to wrestle the lead back from Guernsey. Unforced turn-overs cost them dear as they were hit on the break and by 2 long range threes as Guernsey raced into a 26 – 17 lead halfway through the quarter. A re-adjustment in Tigers offensive options, started to redress the balance as ball pressure by guards Abby Pow and Nicola Hartston led to an increase in Guernsey turn-overs and Laura Dyke, Hannah Watkins, and Laura Franklin took full advantage of early ball to hurt Guernsey in the paint as the half ended at a competitive 30 – 28 to the Channel Islanders.
Once again it was Guernsey who put early points on the board in the second half, but increasingly they were also picking up unnecessary reaching and blocking violations and it was little surprise that they were in team foul trouble after only 5 minutes. A Lydia Shaikh lay up, followed by a Hannah Byrne 3 pointer, pulled the Tigers level again at 34 points apiece, before Tigers went narrowly ahead from a succession of shots from the line as Guernsey struggled to cope with the Tigers offense. However, it seemed that whenever Tigers were in the ascendancy, Guernsey would find the necessary energy to hit back and it wasn't until the last minute of the quarter that Tigers opened up a 5 point gap, but even this was short lived as Guernsey hit a 3 pointer on the buzzer to trail Tigers by a mere 2 points at 41 – 39.
The most compelling quarter turned out to be the hard fought final quarter, and although the lowest scoring, it was tense throughout as both sides went for the win. Tigers were dominant at their defensive end with Emma Gough, Elly Leader and Hannah Maddocks keeping things really tight and forcing turn-over ball. Frustratingly Tigers were getting in good scoring positions but were not converting as earlier in the game. With a minute left on the clock the game looked over, as Tigers extended their lead to 5 points, however, a Guernsey time out and a foul on the way to the hoop allowed them to cut the score to 4 points. Another Guernsey steal cut the lead to 2 points, however, with Tigers in possession all looked safe until a refereeing aberration gave the ball to Guernsey with only 2 seconds left on the clock — pressure on the inbound was sufficient to deny a shot opportunity as Tigers took the game 48 – 46.
Team Manager, Jim Hartston, was delighted with the result,
“Another great win for Taunton Tiger's Women, although we did make hard work for ourselves in a game which I felt we were comfortably the better side. The girls worked really hard today and got their just rewards. To their great credit, Guernsey refused to lie down and made us work hard for every point. Defensively we do look very sound and are gradually tightening the defensive pressure we are able to exert on other teams. Offensively we are increasingly getting better looks and our inside players are hurting other sides — that said our free throw percentages are not providing us with the just reward for our hard work and efforts and we will be looking to rectify this in the coming weeks.”