After a successful first half of the season, the Eagles were taking on a strong playoff contender Tameside Royals Blue. The Eagles played this team their first game of the season and lost a tough 70-50. Their confidence and play have improved since then and this was a perfect opportunity to cause an upset after the Christmas break.
The Eagles started the game strong with a quick couple scores to take a 4-0 lead. Tameside however hit straight back to even out the score. It was a scrappy start to the game with the two teams going back and forth. After the first five minutes, the home team led 8-7. Both teams were making a lot of unforced errors and gifting opportunities to their opponents and after the first quarter the score was even at 13.
At the start of the 2nd quarter, Tameside cut down on their errors and were aggressively rebounding their missed shots to cause several issues for the Eagles. The away team were disjointed on the offensive end and Tameside took full advantage with a 17-2 run to take 30-17 lead going into the last 3 minutes of the half. At this point the Eagles dug deep and stepped up their defence to finish the half on a run of their own and to go into the break 30-28 down.
In the second half, the Eagles tried to step up their intensity and efficiency, but turnovers and Tameside offensive rebounds were still hurting them. They went back and forth with Tameside but were unable to capitalise on their, at times, superior play. Going into the last 10 minutes, the Eagles were still down by 3 but had it all to play for in the last quarter.
A quick score at the start of the 4th, closed the gap to 1 before Tameside extended their lead with a strong drive and foul to push the score back up 4. Eagles were working hard to get back in the game, but they couldn’t take their opportunities form the free throw stripe. With 2 minutes left, Tameside were leading by 7. A last effort by the Eagles closed the gap to 3 but again missed free throws and turnovers were the Eagles downfall and Tameside took the win 56-51.
This was a much-improved score against Tameside for the Eagles and the frustration at the loss shows how far they have come this year. The Eagles were at times by far the superior team, but their own unforced mistakes cost them dearly. Playing this team just after the break was not ideal and their play was sloppy throughout the game. They committed 40 turnovers, allowed Tameside 29 offensive rebounds and went 7/25 from the free throw line. With statistics like that, it is quite remarkable that the Eagles were even that close, and it is practically impossible to win games against quality opposition such as Tameside.
Next up for the Eagles is another tough away game against Manchester Mystics II who narrowly beat them just before the Christmas break.
Scorers: Yemisi MEFFUL – 14 points, Lauren BIRD – 13 points, Judy ELADAWY – 8 points