Coach stays positive as Mansfield Giants Women fail to build on first win

GIANTS FELLED -- Mansfield Giants' women's side went down 66-44 in their latest National Basketball League match.
GIANTS FELLED -- Mansfield Giants' women's side went down 66-44 in their latest National Basketball League match.

Coach Jo Richards remained positive, even though Mansfield Giants Women failed to build on their first win of the National Basketball League season the previous week.

After a fantastic victory over fellow strugglers Worcester Wolves, Giants were full of confidence for their trip to meet Team Birmingham.

Sadly, they came up against a home side who had bolstered their squad and, unveiling a major shooting threat, inflicted a 66-44 defeat on the Mansfield girls.

However, Richards refused to get too downhearted, saying: “This was not a big setback for us. We still played some really good basketball.

“It was just that we struggled to find any rhythm on our offence. All credit to Birmingham, who shot extremely well from outside, which was problematic for us.

“In contrast, our out shots just wouldn’t drop. But that’s the way it goes sometimes. What is important is that the team stayed positive and fought until the end. We now have three weeks without a game, so we can get things back on track in practice.”

In a familiarly slow start by Giants, they soon fell behind before Charlie Levitt and Jade Clemenson used their height advantage to mount a recovery. Both scored baskets inside the paint to chip away at the deficit.

The sharp outside shooting of Birmingham gave them a seven-point lead, but Richards scored a three on the buzzer to make the score 14-10 at the end of the first quarter.

From then on, the hosts took control, restricting Giants to only seven points in the second quarter, with five coming from captain Alison Bridge. Beth Wheldon was on target with consecutive threes in the third quarter, but with Birmingham continuing to pour in long-range shots, they ran up a 17-point advantage by the end of the session.

The final quarter followed the same theme, but at least the highlight of the match was still to come as long-standing stalwart Levitt stepped up to the plate to sink a huge three to close the entertaining action.

She finished with eight points, just behind Wheldon on ten and Richards on nine. Bridge also bagged five points.

The result kept Giants in sixth place in the seven-team table, just below Birmingham and just ahead of Worcester. The joint leaders are Charnwood College Riders and Sefton Starlights.

The Mansfield team’s next match is on Saturday, February 13, when they will be hoping for plenty of vocal support at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre (4.15 pm start).