After a rather peaceful and systematic warm-up session, the Panthers started their opening match for this season, taking on Nottingham Trent at 5.15pm. The excitement of playing our first ever game on home grounds started to sink in and the Panthers were pumped to put up a strong fight. Upon receiving the jump ball, Hannah attacked the basket with a swift drive while Joanna kicked off the scoring process by tapping in the ball which Hannah unluckily missed. The game intensified quickly and both teams endured several turnovers. The Panthers gradually got into a good form and maintained a steady pace. Forwards Joanna and Rosie contributed several baskets while our guards defeated the opponent’s strong half-court press and created great assists for the forwards, leading to score of 15-13 at the end of the 1st quarter to our advantage.
In the second quarter, the girls from Nottingham Trent successfully brought some troubles to the Panthers. They seized every opportunity to drive in whenever the Panthers fell slightly loose on defence and were ahead of the Panthers on getting offensive rebounds. Nottingham Trent put up an impressive score of 24 in this quarter and started leading a point ahead of the Panthers despite our attempts to organise effective plays.
After the half time break, the competition became even more fierce. The scores of the two teams kept being rather close, with both teams executing successful attacks in turns. The score gap was maintained at 1 point for several minutes, until Joanna and Gaia made the basket in successive turns and enlarged the gap to three points. Fortunately, the Panthers dominated the court and kept their lead to the end of the third quarter, thanks to Joanna’s extremely strong under-basket attacks, putting up 8 points in the 3rd quarter alone and June’s several impressive mid-range shots.
In this nerve-wrecking battle, both teams did not loosen up and chased each other tightly, making putting up baskets throughout the last quarter. Our guards had completely gotten a hot hand and made many excellent drives and fast breaks, bringing the lead up to 9 points. However, the Nottingham Trent girls, who were also very insistent, got several steals and finally narrowed the gap to 3 points and ended with the result 51-54. Finally, the Panthers walked away victorious, winning their season opener!
Both teams showed great character and respect throughout the game. Special shout-outs to our amazing and dedicated new Coach, Lauren, the Panther’s MVP, Joanna, as well as our sharpshooter, June, and the rest of the Panthers who performed exceedingly well!