Bethan Fagan

WPL Round-up: 2nd/3rd April

Photo credit: Purple Swan Photography

Worcester Wolves celebrated their first win of the season, and Loughborough Lightning’s winning streak continues.

Loughborough Lightning 65 – 39 Cardiff Met Archers

Lightning added another W to their perfect record this season so far with a home game victory over visitors Cardiff Met Archers.

Robyn Love (Lightning) was game leader on points with 24 points, followed closely by teammate Lucy Robinson with 23 points. Love was game leader on rebounds with 15 rebounds, with Laurie Williams and Robinson joint second on total rebounds for Lightning with 6 each.

Williams was game leader on assists with 10 assists, followed by teammate Love who had 7 assists.

For Cardiff Met Archers, Jade Atkin was top performer for the Archers on points with 17 points, followed by Anastasia Blease with 14 points and Maddie Martin with 4 points.

Blease was top performer for Archers on rebounds with 11, followed by Jade Atkin with 8 rebounds. Adele Atkin and Katie Morrow were joint third top performers on rebounds for Archers with 4 rebounds each.

Maddie Martin was top performer for Archers on assists with 4 assists, followed by Blease and Phillips who each had 1 assist.

Worcester Wolves 49 – 43 East London Phoenix

After an exciting match against East London Phoenix, Worcester Wolves celebrated their first win of the season. Following a rocky first quarter, Wolves came back from a 5-point deficit with determination and kept ahead of visitors Phoenix for the rest of the game. In the early stages of the fourth quarter, home team Wolves had an 11-point lead over Phoenix.

Jade Loughlin (Wolves) was top performer for the Worcester side on points with 13 points, followed by Sarah Hope with 12 points and joint third was Ellan Fraser and Kayla Bell with 10 each.

Hope and J. Loughlin were tied team top performers on rebounds with 10 rebounds each, with Bell close behind with 8 rebounds.

Another tie for team top performer for Hope and J. Loughlin who both got 6 assists each, joint game leaders on assists, followed by Kayli English with 3 assists.

Amy Conroy (Phoenix) was game leader on points with 25 points. Alice McHaffie was second top performer for Phoenix on points with 10 points, followed by Emily Branthwaite with 6 points.

Conroy was overall top performer on rebounds with 13 rebounds, with McHaffie as second top performer for Phoenix with 8 rebounds and Curran Brown with 5 rebounds.

Freya Levy (Phoenix) was top performer for Phoenix on assists with 4 assists, followed by McHaffie with 3 assists.

BWB WPL Fixtures and Results:

BWB WPL Fanzone:

GB Round-up: 26/27th March

GB athletes across the European leagues are battling it out for the top spots as they head into the final stages of competition.

In Spain, Amivel Reyes Gutierrez (Abdi Jama, Tyler Baines, Peter Cusack) had a 69:49 victory at home against visitors UCAM Murcia BSR after a close first quarter. Abdi Jama had 16 points and 6 rebounds. Peter Cusack had 7 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds.

A win for CD Ilunion (Gregg Warburton, Terry Bywater) at home as they won 77:72 against BSR Amiab Albacete (Kyle Marsh, Harry Brown, Ben Fox, Gaz Choudhry, Lee Manning). Six GB athletes took to the court in this high-scoring match. Gregg Warburton (Ilunion) was top performer for Ilunion on points with 28 points, with a 2pt average of 75% (9/12), game leader on assists with 9 assists, and had 3 rebounds.

Kyle Marsh (Albacete) was game leader on points with 32 points, joint team top performer on assists with teammate Gaz Choudhry (Albacete) with 4 assists each, and had 4 rebounds. Choudhry had 6 points and 7 rebounds. Harry Brown (Albacete) had 11 points and 3 rebounds. Lee Manning (Albacete) had 9 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists. Manning currently is league leader on average rebounds per game, with an average of 12.1 per game.

Bidaideak Bilbao BSR (James MacSorley) had a 44:63 victory on the road against Fundación Aliados. James MacSorley had 4 points and 2 rebounds.

Mideba Extremadura (Charlotte Moore, Phil Pratt, Lewis Edwards) had success at home, winning 72:65 against BSR Ace Gran Canaria. Charlotte Moore had 4 points and 1 rebound. Lewis Edwards had 8 points and 10 rebounds. Phil Pratt was game top performer on rebounds and assists, with 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and had 19 points.

Servigest Burgos (Lee Fryer) had a strong performance against Fundación Vital Zuzenak, winning 71:47 at home.

In Italy, the competition to claim the top spot turned up a notch. Briantea84 Cantu (Sophie Carrigill, Ian Sagar) suffered a 77:69 defeat in the first stage of the semi-final, away to Stefano Avis. Ian Sagar had 14 points, 10 rebounds and 1 assist. Sophie Carrigill had 2 rebounds.

Dinamo Lab Banco Di Sardegna (Billy Bridge) won their match against GSD Porto Torres 67:58 – an important win in the final stages of the league competition. Billy Bridge had 12 points, 4 rebounsd and 7 assists.

In Germany, Rhine River Rhinos (Jim Palmer) played their last match of the regular season, and were defeated narrowly at home by visitors Doneck Dolphins Trier 75:78. Jim Palmer had 1 point. The German League now prepares for the play-offs, which are set to be an exhilarating end to the 2021-2022 season.

History made at BUCS Big Wednesday!

For the first time in the history of BUCS, wheelchair basketball featured in the BUCS Big Wednesday event – the pinnacle of inter-University sports leagues in the UK. At this popular event, final matches took place across 16 different league sports to name the 2021-2022 champions.

Split across three geographical divisions – Northern, Midlands, Southern – wheelchair basketball marked its inaugural year in the BUCS line-up this season.

After regular season matches and qualifying for the final, University of Nottingham and Cardiff Met Archers advanced to BUCS Big Wednesday to play in the final at the David Ross Sports Village.

The final was enjoyed by a roaring BUCS Big Wednesday crowd, willing both teams to succeed. The game was a close match, and UoN managed to pull ahead in the final quarter and take the win 66:40 to claim the title of first ever BUCS Wheelchair Basketball champions.

Jo Richards, British Wheelchair Basketball Participation Director, said:

“The addition of wheelchair basketball to BUCS is overwhelmingly positive as it is an inclusive sport and increases opportunities of activity available to students across the country.

Seeing the final amidst the BUCS Big Wednesday line-up is a big moment for disability sport. Congratulations to all the teams involved, and well done to University of Nottingham and Cardiff Met for progressing to the final!”

University of Nottingham win BUCS
University of Nottingham win the BUCS Wheelchair Basketball league

Women’s Premier League Round-up: 19th March

Cardiff Met Archers 63:43 East London Phoenix

Home team Cardiff Met Archers were unrelenting in their energetic offensive plays against visitors East London Phoenix and won the match 63:43.

Amy Conroy (Phoenix) was match leader on points with 30 points, and top performer for East London Phoenix on assists with 4 assists, followed by teammate Freya Levy with 3 assists. Conroy was top performer for East London Phoenix on rebounds with 10 rebounds, followed by Curran Brown with 9 rebounds and Freya Levy with 8 rebounds.

Katie Morrow (Archers) was top performer for Archers on points with 25 points, followed by Jade Atkin with 16 points and Leah Evans with 8 points. Jade Atkin (Archers) was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds. Archers teammate Katie Morrow had 8 rebounds. Maddie Martin (Archers) and Jade Atkin (Archers) were tied on game leader on assists with 5 assists each.

Conroy currently holds the highest average points per game with an average of 25.5 points per game, followed closely by Robyn Love (Loughborough Lightning) with 19.8 per game and Lucy Robinson (Lightning) with 17.2 per game.

Our next BWB Women’s Premier League games are both live on BBC Sport, with Loughborough Lightning hosting Cardiff Met Archers on 2nd April and Worcester Wolves welcoming East London Phoenix on 3rd March.

BWB WPL Fixtures and Results:

BWB WPL Fanzone:

GB Round-up: 19/20th March

Celebrations for Alabama Crimson Tide as they win the National Championships, and the regular season in the German league sees dramatic final matches.  

Alabama Crimson Tide (Joy Haizelden) took the collegiate National Championships in style with a buzzer beating victory against Illinois 50:48, marking the end of an incredibly successful season for the University of Alabama side. GB star Joy Haizelden had 8 points, 2 steals and 3 rebounds during their final match against Illinois on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Alabama Crimson Tide finish the season on an impressive streak of 13 wins.  

In Germany, RSV Lahn-Dill (Simon Brown) won 60:70 away against Rhine River Rhinos (Jim Palmer). As teams played their final regular matches of the German league across the weekend, RSV Lahn-Dill (Simon Brown) won their match against ING Skywheelers 72:38. Rhine River Rhinos (Jim Palmer) won their match, defeating RBC Köln 99ers 45:70 on the road. Rhine River Rhinos currently sit in third place in the table with one more game to go, and RSV Lahn-Dill look ahead with confidence to the semi-finals following a near-perfect season record of 15/1.

In Spain, eight GB stars on were court in Albacete as BSR Amiab Albacete (Kyle Marsh, Harry Brown, Ben Fox, Gaz Choudhry, Lee Manning) won their match at home 84:69 against Mideba Extremadura (Charlotte Moore, Phil Pratt, Lewis Edwards).

Kyle Marsh (Amiab) was Albacete’s top performer on points and assists with 19 points and 11 assists, making 3/5 3pts attempts and 6/6 free throws, and had 11 assists and 4 rebounds.  Harry Brown (Amiab) had 9 points, 2 assists and 3 rebounds. Ben Fox (Amiab) had 8 points, 1 rebound and 1 assist. Gaz Choudhry (Amiab) had 18 points, 7 assists, and 4 rebounds. Lee Manning (Amiab) was game leader on rebounds with 16 rebounds, and had 12 points and 3 assists.

Phil Pratt (Mideba) was game leader on assists and rebounds with 13 assists and 7 rebounds, and had 18 points. Charlotte Moore (Mideba) had 1 rebound. Lewis Edwards (Mideba) had 8 points, 1 assist, and 5 rebounds.

Elsewhere, Bidaideak Bilbao BSR (James MacSorley) defeated visitors CD Ilunion (Gregg Warburton, Terry Bywater) in a high-scoring match ending 85:75. James MacSorley (Bilbao) had 6 points, going 4/4 on free throws, and had 2 rebounds. Gregg Warburton (Ilunion) was top performer on points for Ilunion with 23 points, and had 3 assists and 4 rebounds. Terry Bywater (Ilunion) had 2 points and 2 assists.

Amivel Reyes Gutierrez (Abdi Jama, Tyler Baines, Peter Cusack) had a 68:57 victory at home against Servigest Burgos (Lee Fryer). Abdi Jama (Amivel) had 14 points and 3 assists. Peter Cusack (Amivel) had 5 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

In France, CS Meaux 1 (Helen Freeman) were defeated 78:58 away to Red Dragon Metz.

At home in the National League Premier Division, Jack Perry (London Titans) had 20 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists in their home game against CWBA where the away team won 61:76. Tom Smith (CWBA) had 17 points, 15 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block.

Maddie Thompson (Steelers) contributed to Sheffield Steelers victory over Thames Valley Kings – Thompson had 14 points, 8 rebounds and 2 assists.

In the BWB Women’s Premier League, Amy Conroy (Phoenix) had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in a tough away game loss 63:43 against hosts Cardiff Met Archers. Jade Atkin (Archers) had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists. Conroy currently holds the highest average points per game with an average of 25.5 points per game.

GB Round-up: 12/13th March

A clash of GB talent in Spain as Mideba Extremadura (Charlotte Moore, Phil Pratt, Lewis Edwards) won their match 77:53 against Bidaideak Bilbao BSR (James Macsorley). Phil Pratt (Mideba) was game leader on assists with 11 assists and had 18 points, 10 rebounds, and netted two 3pts. Charlotte Moore (Mideba) had 2 points. Lewis Edwards (Mideba) was team top performer on points with 20 points, and had 10 rebounds and 4 assists. James Macsorley (Bilbao) had 4 points and 2 rebounds.

CD Ilunion (Gregg Warburton, Terry Bywater) won their match 85:54 against Fundación FDI Las Rozas. Gregg Warburton was joint top performer on points with 24 points with a 2pt average of 63% (12/19) and had 5 rebounds and 10 assists.

Amivel Reyes Gutierrez (Abdi Jama, Tyler Baines, Peter Cusack) were defeated 59:55 away against Iberconsa Amfiv. Peter Cusack had 14 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds.

Servigest Burgos (Lee Fryer) won their match at home against UCAM Murcia BSR 60:53.

BSR Amiab Albacete (Kyle Marsh, Harry Brown, Ben Fox, Gaz Choudhry, Lee Manning) suffered a 72:67 defeat on the road against BSR Ace Gran Canaria. Gaz Choudhry had 6 assists, 4 rebounds and 10 points. Kyle Marsh was team top performer on points with 24 points, netting two 3pts, and had 10 assists and 3 rebounds. Lee Manning had 13 points, 2 assists and was game leader on total rebounds with an impressive 20 rebounds. Harry Brown had 2 points and 3 rebounds. Ben Fox had 1 assist.

Winning teams declared in the final round of Women’s League 21/22!

North Wales Knights 1 took home the trophy in Division 1, and Sheffield Steelers won the Division 2 title in a dramatic winner-takes-all final match as the Women’s League 2021-2022 concluded this weekend.

North Wales Knights – Division 1 winners and Division 2 second place

In Division 1, it was a strong weekend for Wakefield Whirlwinds who won every match they played in Round 3, ending North Wales Knights winning streak from the previous two rounds. It was a mixed weekend of results for London Titans, yet they held steady to keep the momentum they had been building over the season and claimed second place in Division 1. North Wales Knights 1 earned the top spot through a series of consistent performances across all three rounds.

London Titans, Division 1 second place

In Division 2, the battle for the top spot came down to the final match, with Sheffield Steelers taking the win 19:36 in a dramatic finish to the season. North Wales Knights 2 took second place overall in Division 2.

Sheffield Steelers, Division 2 winners

IWD2022: Q&A with GB legend Caroline Matthews MBE

In honour of International Women’s Day 2022, Caroline Matthews MBE reflects on the changes within women’s wheelchair basketball. Caroline has no shortage of experience, having dedicated a decade of her life to representing Great Britain in which she earned an impressive 125 caps and attended two Paralympic Games (Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008).

Outside of her duties on the court wearing the GB vest, Caroline has given a huge amount of her time and effort over the years into developing the women’s game within Wales and on the international stage. Caroline changed the landscape of the sport within Wales and co-founded Cardiff Celts (now Archers), and has held several coaching roles in both national and international capacities.

Recently you were part of the commentary team for a BWB Women’s Premier League match – how was that experience for you?

I loved it! You kind of get used to certain levels of nerves on a daily basis – work nerves, player nerves, coaching nerves…and I re-discovered a whole new type of nerves – commentator nerves! But I love chatting through and analysing basketball games, and it was a real privilege to be able to do this in my home town of Cardiff.

The BWB Women’s Premier League is a gamechanger for both the women’s game at home and internationally. Do you have a sense of pride in your personal involvement towards the growth of the women’s game?

I played wheelchair basketball for Great Britain for ten years (2001-2011). I worked full time as a lawyer throughout my time as an international basketballer, so it was like having two full time jobs. It was hard and we all sacrificed a lot. When I started to play wheelchair basketball there wasn’t a team in Wales – my first team was in Bristol and I soon moved to a national league team based in London. The MILES that I put on my cars were staggering!

But I just love this game (always have and always will!) it was all a million percent worth it. It gave (and continues to give) me so much, so many opportunities I would never have had if I hadn’t taken that plunge and gone to my first wheelchair basketball session – and I’m always looking for ways to give back to the sport that has given me so much.

The WPL is an enormous step forward for wheelchair basketball and, in particular, women’s wheelchair basketball, in the UK and I am thrilled to see one of the teams based in Cardiff. Twenty years ago there was no wheelchair basketball in Cardiff – and now we have one of the four WPL teams in the UK… imagine what will come next! I am very excited to see the growth of the WPL.

How has the sport changed since you first started playing, focusing on the women’s game in particular?

Wheelchair basketball has changed enormously since I began. When I started to play there wasn’t a separate Women’s League – we all played as part of the (predominantly male) National League teams – using a size 7 ball and often having to play different roles to, in some cases, work around the men in the team. The first Women’s League in the UK started in 2005 – and I remember holding a size 6 ball for the first time! The league gave the women’s wheelchair basketball players around the UK the opportunity to play only against other women (prior to that, this was available at international level). In that league (which is still thriving today), women played a full role on court – and were never just on the court “for points reasons”. It was great fun – and we all learned a lot. After a few years, Women’s League had enough teams to run in two divisions – and now we have the WPL! I’m very excited to see how WPL develops.

Funding is a huge part of the changes to the Women’s League that has come through. When I started playing, there was simply no funding. The GB team trained one weekend a month and we covered our own expenses…but we all had such passion for the game and it is great to see where that has led the sport today.

Compared to where the sport was when we started, the teams in the WPL today enable more athletes to better structure their lives around training, which will inevitably increase the standard of women’s wheelchair basketball in the UK.

I really can’t wait to see where the WPL league will go. Being able to build these teams around Universities offers athletes (from the UK and abroad) the opportunity to go to university, study (for your future) and train with the best support and coaches available at that location.

The WPL is such an incredible opportunity – I only wish I was twenty years younger!

Do you think the overall perception and awareness of the sport has changed since you started?

I think disability sport has always had a positive effect on people’s perceptions. When my knees became so severely degraded with arthritis that I could no longer play the running game of basketball – at the time, I didn’t know anything about disability sport generally or wheelchair basketball. I wasn’t aware that it existed and when it was suggested to me, as I wasn’t a full time wheelchair user, I didn’t think I would be able to play.

Eventually, I got up the strength to go to my first wheelchair basketball session and I was soon racing around the court in a chair – grinning from ear to ear and loving every minute of it. I was instantly hooked!

I think that there is now greater media coverage of disability sport – which can only serve to raise awareness of the opportunities available to people with any level of disability. From my perspective, it can only help the whole of society for everyone to realise what an individual CAN do…instead of focusing on limitations.

What advice would you offer to the future stars beginning their journey in the sport?

Give it a go! That’s all there is to it.

For anyone sitting on their sofa thinking, I’d like to have a go at wheelchair basketball (or any sporting activity) – you’ve got nothing to lose – so give it a go!

When I went to my first wheelchair basketball session in Bristol I had no idea where my basketball journey would take me (and continue to take me). I’ve never looked back – it was one of the best decisions of my life!