There are some familiar faces – including one notable returner to the league – in the first All-Star 5 of the new season, after a big opening weekend of WBBL Cup action that saw almost all of the league’s teams in action twice.
Georgia Jones – Manchester Met Mystics
Entering her sixth campaign with Mystics, the club captain picked up where she left off as they were quick out of the blocks to score an opening day victory over Nottingham Wildcats. She hit four three-pointers in the first quarter as Mystics raced into a 25-12 lead and never looked back, with Jones finishing on 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals, nailing 6-10 (60%) from beyond the arc.
Ebony Horton – Newcastle Eagles
Newcastle recorded a pair of big double-digit wins over the weekend, and it was in a North East derby against Durham Palatinates that former Great Britain u20 international Ebony Horton shone, having joined Eagles from Manchester over the summer. She poured in 31 points on 12-19 (63%) interior shooting and 7-9 (77%) at the line, adding seven rebounds and four assists. The teams were separated by just two possessions at the half, until Horton hit eight points in an unstoppable 21-0 surge to open the third period.
Kara Elderkin – Durham Palatinates
Durham had previously opened their campaign with a win over Caledonia Pride on Friday night, led by a near triple-double from their captain. Elderkin put up 16 points, with nine rebounds, seven assists, five steals and two blocks. In a consummate leader’s performance, she shot just 5-8 (62%) from the floor, also getting to the line on seven occasions and making five of those. Defensive effort broke the game open as they held their visitors to 10 second quarter points and just four in the third; and in the former spell, Elderkin stretched a one-shot advantage with three steals, each of which led to a score, in an 11-2 run that gave them a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.
Georgia Gayle – Sheffield Hatters
After three years in the United States and one playing professionally in Spain, the WBBL welcomed back Great Britain star Georgia Gayle as Sheffield Hatters re-entered the fray in typical style with a pair of huge wins over the weekend. Gayle made big contributions in both, but it was on opening night against Nottingham Wildcats where she hit six three-pointers on her way to 28 points, adding four steals, three rebounds and three assists. Three of those triples came in the first 11 minutes of the game, with the last giving Hatters a double-figure lead that they consistently built on throughout the game.
Helen Naylor – Sheffield Hatters
Also returning to Sheffield, following a season across the Pennines in Manchester, was Helen Naylor, who has twice been in the Molten WBBL Team of the Year in her six previous campaigns in Sheffield. Her biggest performance of the weekend came in that derby against her former team, as she posted a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, also handing out six assists as Hatters got off to the perfect start to top their WBBL Cup group, having won the competition in 2019 on Naylor’s infamous buzzer-beater.
Off the bench: Kennedy Nicholas (Nottingham Wildcats), Maura Fitzpatrick (Gloucester City Queens), Shannon Hatch (Cardiff Met Archers), Louise Rouse (Leicester Riders), Rheanne Bailey (Manchester Met Mystics), Greeta Uprus (Oaklands Wolves), Mara Marchizotti (Cardiff Met Archers).