Game of the Week: Sevenoaks Suns v Barking Abbey
Our Game of the Week for 20/21 October looks at the first game of the season in the VCARS.co.uk Division 1 Women's league.
Sevenoaks Suns host Barking Abbey on Saturday 20 October in what may be seen as a battle between two teams with some of the best young talent in the VCARS.co.uk league.
The Regional Institute at Barking Abbey School was created in May 2011 to develop national players between the ages of 16 and 19, offering British talent a viable alternative to US high school and continental European academies. Since that time, Barking Abbey's senior national league program has displayed both a nice combination of young talent and veteran leadership.
This year looks no different so far with former British national teams member, 2006 Commonwealth Bronze Medallist and EBL veteran Rosalee Mason joining the ranks. Mason, who played the last two seasons with Sevenoaks, will suit up for coach Mark Clark this season.
Joining Mason as a newcomer to Barking Abbey is Georgia Jones, another player with international experience at both the England and Great Britain levels. Jones spent the last four years attending Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma and finished her college career with the school's second highest total of three point shots made (220). Georgia is the daughter of Manchester Giants head coach Jeff Jones and collected several EBL trophies as a Manchester Mystic in her junior national league days.
Mark Clark is excited at the prospect of getting started with Barking Abbey's national league campaign:
"We're looking forward to starting the new season, [one] that we hope will see us back at the Final Fours," he said. "We have added some real quality to our academy players [in] Roz Mason and Georgia Jones, who are not only great players but also role models for these younger players."
"We have had good prep but will be without Leah McDerment who still is recovering from ankle problems," said Clark on the injured McDerment, who also played with England's U16 Women in the Division A European Championship this past summer.
Similar to Barking Abbey, Sevenoaks Suns are a team packed with young talent but the departure of Mason and other experienced players does play on the mind of coach Len Busch:
"We are younger than usual this year,” said Busch, also the coach of England's U18 Women who secured promotion to Division A this summer.
"We have four players from this summer's promotion-winning U18 team in Cheridene Green, Lauren Milligan, Megan Lewis and Kaitlyn Lewis. I think we will struggle at times but the hope is that as the season goes on we will get better."
Sevenoaks had a very solid start to the 2011/12 season, including a defeat of eventual Cup and playoff winners Sheffield Hatters, but with the departure of Australian player Sarah Parsons in January they started to slide.
"It will be interesting to see where our scoring comes from with the loss of Parsons, who returned to Australia half way through last year, and GB veteran Roz Mason who has moved over to Barking," said Busch.
Barking Abbey also played well last season, finishing third in the league behind UWIC Archers and Hatters, and won all three meetings with Sevenoaks albeit by single digits.
"We fully expect Sevenoaks to continue their rise up the league," said coach Clark. "Getting the 'W' here will be a big win. You only have to look at their victory over Sheffield last year to know how dangerous they will be."
Top - FIBA Europe
Bottom - Alan Mousley