In their last game of 2018, the young Eagles were taking on a strong Manchester team who had so far only lost one game this season to league leaders Manchester Mystics I. The team knew going in that it was going to be a tough contest and needed to be at their best in order to get the win.
The game as predicted started at a high pace with Manchester getting the first score with two points from the FT line. This was quickly cancelled out by the Eagles who leveled up the score at 2-2. However for the rest of the mini quarter, the Mystics dominated proceedings with their defence creating easy scores and pulling out the lead 11-2 after the first five minutes. The second five for the Eagles knew they would have a lot to do in order to fight back. They however came out really strong and it was their turn to put Manchester under pressure as they clawed the score back to make it 16-13 at the end of the first quarter.
At the start of the second quarter, the first five for the Eagles were back on court looking to improve on their first quarter performance. They started well with a quick score to pull to within 1 of Manchester. However much like in the first quarter they were unable to break through the Manchester defence and struggled to get scores. This boosted Manchester’s confidence as they went on a run to end the first five minutes of the second quarter with a dominant 32-18 lead. The second five for the Eagles knew they would have it all to do again in the second half of the quarter in order to bring the Eagles back into contention. Unfortunately they could only trade baskets with Manchester and made no dents in their lead as Manchester took a comfortable 40-22 lead at the half.
The Eagles responded well after the break. They knew they had competed well with Manchester in the first half but their lack of consistency is what had left them in such a hole at the half. A pick up in intensity on the defensive end saw them create turnovers and put the Manchester offence under great pressure. Unfortunately the Eagles were at times unable to finish the easy lay ups and were not making as much progress as they had wanted to and leaving them still 43-28 behind. However an excellent last two minutes of the quarter saw the Eagles go on a 10-2 run to go into the last quarter 47-38 down. They held Manchester to 7 points in the quarter and gave themselves an excellent opportunity to come back and win the game.
At the start of the fourth quarter, an injury to a key Eagles player who had been playing well left them a woman down for the last 10 minutes. Other players knew they would have to step in to maintain their momentum. They did just that at the start of the quarter, with the Eagles closing in and getting within 5 points with 4 minutes left to play. At this point however the Eagles suffered another setback with another player fouling out. This shifted the momentum towards Manchester who went on a small 6-0 run to ice the comeback. The Eagles kept fighting but in the end fell 60-48.
It was a great performance by the Eagles. They showed massive improvement since their first game of the season and just failed to consistently perform at a high level. Their second half performance was fantastic and the fact that they went in 18 points down at the half and managed to claw the gap back down to 5 shows incredible team spirit and hard work. In the end they fell just short as injuries, foul outs and tiredness set in and the 12 point difference really flatters Manchester in this case. There are plenty of positives to take into the break and the Eagles will look to 2019 with confidence and still aiming for a top 3 finish.
Next up for the Eagles on the 12th of January is Tameside Royals Blue who beat them in the opening game of the season. The Eagles will be looking to show their improvement and get a strong win on the road.
Top Scorers: Judy Eladaway – 15 points, Izzy Jonas – 11 points, Yemisi Mefful – 9 points