WBBL All-Star 5 – Week 8

As the WBBL returned from the international break, the latest All-Star 5 is full of Great Britain internationals, led by Georgia Gayle after Sheffield Hatters remained unbeaten in the WBBL Championship; while also including a pair of London Lions after they qualified for the WBBL Cup Final by beating Hatters on Saturday.

Georgia Gayle – Sheffield Hatters
Gayle returned from international duty with GB to help Hatters move to 6-0 in league play with a home win over Caledonia Pride on Sunday. She scored 26 points, including shooting 11-13 (84%) at the free-throw line as she drew eight fouls in the game and proved too much for the visitors to handle, nearly completing a double-double with nine rebounds, while handing out five assists and nabbing three steals. Hatters led for most of the game as she had four points and two assists in an early run, but it remained competitive throughout until Gayle took over late on with 11 points in the fourth quarter, gaining weekly honours for the third time this season.

Jo Leedham-Warner – London Lions
Making her second appearance of the campaign is another GB star, and London 2012 Olympian, as Jo Leedham-Warner put in a huge performance to propel London Lions into the WBBL Cup Final, comprehensively beating Hatters, their league title rivals. She scored a game-high 27 points in the semi-final on 8-11 (72%) interior shooting and 3-6 (50%) from three-point range, adding seven rebounds and five assists. Lions stamped their authority on the game immediately as Leedham-Warner scored half of the points in a 14-0 first quarter surge, hitting the three-pointer that made the score 25-7, before adding back-to-back triples early in the second stanza as London led by double-figures for most of the game.

Dominique Allen – Manchester Met Mystics
Fellow Olympian Dominique Allen makes her third weekly showing as Mystics continued their good run of form with a fourth straight home win, beating Oaklands Wolves to move to 5-2 in the WBBL Championship. She posted a third double-double of the season with 14 points and 13 rebounds, and continued to get it done at both ends of the floor with three steals and a block as Mystics put in their best defensive display of the campaign so far. They trailed late in the third until Allen scored a basket that sparked a 6-0 finish, before setting the tone with two quick steals and an assist in a 7-0 opening to a fourth quarter that they won 18-5 to settle the game.

Oceana Hamilton – Leicester Riders
Also making her third All-Star 5 appearance of the season is Leicester’s Canadian centre Oceana Hamilton, who is one of just six players averaging a double-double as the league’s third leading rebounder and leader in blocked shots. On this occasion she posted 19 points, shooting a perfect 7-7 from the free-throw line, along with eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists and two steals as Riders beat Gloucester City Queens. That included two of her free-throws to start a 14-5 finish to the first that put Leicester in front for good, before hitting six quick points and blocking two shots in a third quarter run that made the margin a massive 66-26.

Shanice Beckford-Norton – London Lions
London’s energetic guard made an impactful debut for the GB senior team last week, averaging double-figure scoring over two narrow defeats to Greece and Estonia, and she has followed that with WBBL Cup Final qualification and a first All-Star 5 appearance of the season. She captained Lions in their victory over Hatters, scoring 21 points on 6-11 (54%) from the field and 8-9 (88%) at the free-throw line, adding eight rebounds and three steals. That included seven points in the first two minutes as she set the tone in a game that Lions dominated throughout.

Off the bench: Shannon Hatch (Cardiff Met Archers), Judit Fritz (Sevenoaks Suns), Brooklyn Pannell (Nottingham Wildcats), Erika Williams (Manchester Met Mystics), Jessica Eadsforth-Yates (Newcastle Eagles), Cat Carr (Sevenoaks Suns), Hannah Shaw (Sheffield Hatters).