The last WBBL All-Star 5 before the international break features three representatives from Essex Rebels and Newcastle Eagles as both teams recorded back-to-back WBBL Championship wins for the first time this season, alongside a player from Sevenoaks Suns as they went joint-top and Manchester Met Mystics as they moved into the top four. Four of the five are making their first appearances of the season, and the team is led by Ebony Horton who features for the first time since the opening week.
Ebony Horton – Newcastle Eagles
Eagles moved to 2-4 in the WBBL Championship as their best defensive display so far led them to consecutive wins, behind a near double-double of 25 points and nine rebounds from Ebony Horton as she gains weekly honours for the second time this season. Newcastle led from tip-to-buzzer as they held their visitors scoreless for the first five minutes, Horton scoring six early points as she had 16 in the first half. The league’s second leading scorer proved too much for Archers to handle all game, going a perfect 9-9 from the free-throw line, and also handing out three assists.
Lucrezia Costa – Essex Rebels
Rebels also made a jump in the WBBL Championship table with their first back-to-back wins of the campaign, beating Durham Palatinates on the road as Lucrezia Costa posted a first double-double of the season. She finished on 18 points and 10 rebounds, with five of those boards coming at the offensive end as the league’s third leading offensive rebounder, and that included a big momentum play as she made an ‘and-one’ after crashing the glass to cap a 6-0 run and break a one-point game, Rebels establishing an early lead and never looking back. Shooting 6-10 (60%) from the floor and 6-7 (85%) at the line, she also added five assists and two blocks, handing out three assists in that first quarter.
Rheanne Bailey – Manchester Met Mystics
Making her first All-Star 5 appearance of the season, Manchester’s experienced forward Rheanne Bailey was pivotal as they got past Nottingham Wildcats to make it three home wins in a row and jump into the top four. She finished on 25 points and proved a handful for Wildcats on the interior throughout the game, with an unstoppable 9-10 (90%) inside shooting and 7-8 (87%) at the free-throw line. Trailing by five points late on, Mystics looked in trouble until they emerged from a timeout with five minutes to play to hit a 12-2 surge in which Bailey scored eight points, including the first two buckets and then consecutive scores to crucially make it a two-possession game inside the final minute.
Julia Koppl – Sevenoaks Suns
Austrian forward Julia Koppl scored her 500th WBBL point on Saturday, all for Sevenoaks Suns in her fifth campaign for the team, as they used a big fourth quarter to win on the road at Caledonia Pride and take a share of top spot in the WBBL Championship at a perfect 5-0. She went through the milestone with her first score of the game in a great all-round display, finishing with 15 points on 7-11 (63%) shooting, with seven rebounds, six assists and three blocks; and with the game still within two possessions in the fourth quarter, Koppl scored six of her points in a decisive 17-2 surge late on.
Claire Paxton – Essex Rebels
Paxton was close to a triple-double off the bench in Rebels’ win over Durham on Saturday, and made telling contributions to feature in the All-Star 5 for the first time this season. Like her teammate, she completed a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while also dishing out a team-high seven assists. She had an all-action five minute spell after emerging from the bench into the decisive first quarter run that gave Essex the lead for good, scoring the three-pointer that capped an early 11-4 push, while grabbing three rebounds and handing out two assists in that spell.
Off the bench: Elle Hendershot (Durham Palatinates), Shaunay Edmonds (Nottingham Wildcats), Kennedy Nicholas (Nottingham Wildcats), Sian Phillips (Caledonia Pride), Georgia Jones (Manchester Met Mystics), Judit Fritz (Sevenoaks Suns), Marina Fernandez Pardo (Newcastle Eagles).