Bognor Amazons headed into the mid-season break on the back of two successive wins.
Brighton Phoenix Flames 49 Bognor Amazons 80
With only seven players, Bognor Amazons were overwhelmed by the sight of Brighton Phoenix Flames sporting a full bench of 12 for their first clash of the season.
It was clear to Amazons that one of their main goals would be to watch their fouls to keep all their team members in play.
Flames surprised Amazons by starting with a full-court man-to-man defence. This suited Amazons, who like to use screens and cuts to create spaces in attack.
Despite their initial objective to keep fouls to a minimum, the referees seemed to pick up Amazons for every small touch and they quickly ended up as team fouls, allowing Flames to step up to the line for easy points. At the end of the slow quarter, Amazons led 16-13.
Amazons switched their zone defence from focusing on stopping outside plays to guarding the key more closely. This prevented Flames from driving through to the basket and gave Amazons a better chance of pulling down rebounds.
However Amazons became frustrated at the apparent disparity in the referring, which saw Flames step up to the free throw line five times in the quarter, giving them eight easy points, all scored by Garia O Preto.
Amazons had 12 team fouls called on them in the first half, while Flames had only five. However, the free throws were the only points scored by Flames in the second quarter, which encouraged Amazons as they ended the quarter 36-21 up.
It was clear Flames were keen to make more of an impression in the second half. But Amazons rookie Lawrie showed off her incredible speed to take advantage of a couple of fast breaks and get her name on the scoresheet.
The game was allowed to flow and the third quarter ended 56-36.
The fourth quarter saw Flames’ intensity drop and the game was played in an eerie near-silence. Amazons took advantage of Flames’ lull to rack up the points.
Gabb decided to join in the scoring fun for Amazons, scoring nine out of her 13 points in the last quarter, while Amazons’ defence continued to be effective as they prevented Flames scoring any points in the final five minutes.
AMAZONS: Smith 24, Stapely 20, Gabb 13, Vitanyi 11, Lawrie 8, J Phillips 4, M Phillips.
Bognor Amazons 55 Horsham All Stars 47
Horsham brought only six players to Amazons’ home court, but they still looked impressive opponents - with most of the team half a foot taller than the Amazons.
Amazons took the lead, their captain Smith leading by example dodging around defenders to get to the basket. Three untimely shooting fouls gave Amazons easy extra points, and they led at the end of the first quarter 19-15.
To try to take advantage of their smaller and quicker stature, Amazons began the second quarter with a man-to-man defence. However, All Stars used their ball handler to break to the basket.
Amazons ended up committing more fouls and a tense quarter ended 34-30 to the hosts.
Another change in tactics from Amazons for the third quarter saw them pull back their defence into a 3-2 zone, with a focus on preventing the passing between the guards.
A renewed effort on attack meant they dominated the first half of the quarter, working their way around the All Stars’ zone defence. As the seconds were ticking down, Amazons made a couple of silly errors while on team fouls which allowed Bush step up to the line and snatch back three easy points.
The third quarter finished 48-39 to Amazons.
The final quarter was much quieter. Amazons tried to run down the clock while attacking, which meant they scored only two baskets in the first eight minutes of the quarter.
AMAZONS: Smith 29, Stapely 13, Gabb 4, Vitanyi 4, Thorne 2, M Phillips 2, J Phillips 1, K Lawrie.
Amazons’ next home game is at 8.15pm on Tuesday, February 4.