Southend Swifts 
Basketball Club

Match Reports

24TH & 25TH SEPTEMBER 2016

The opening weekend of the basketball season saw mixed results for Southend Swifts with very promising performances across the club teams.  The three boys teams faced away fixtures at Brentwood Leopards with wins for the under 18s by 101 points to 55 and the under 16s by 72 points to 37.  The under 14s, playing their first-ever national league game, were defeated by 66 points to 24.

For girls, there was a defeat for the under 18s against likely champions Peckham Pride by 56-39, the under 16s having a comfortable 83-56 against West Herts. Warriors and the largely inexperienced under 14s losing very narrowly 73-63 to County Upper.

All of the results, and particularly both individual and team performances, auger well for the rest of the season as players become accustomed to playing together.

This weekend all six teams are again in action.  The boys’ teams are again on their travels, whilst the girls have home fixtures on Sunday at Seevic College with the first game starting at 11.30.  


NATIONAL FINAL FOURS – UNDER 14 GIRLS SEMI FINAL

GCA HARINGEY ANGELS 46  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 52

The first game in the girls junior national finals, staged at the Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester, saw an under 14 clash between great friends Haringey Angels and Southend Swifts.  The teams have had many titanic battles in the past and nothing less was expected on this day.

With both teams understandably nervous, scoring was at a premium in the opening minutes.  Haringey’s policy of closely guarding Southend’s captain Charlotte Redhead looked to be giving them early dividends as they held a 5-4 lead.  But suddenly the shackles were off, as Skye Stack and Eleanor Butt began to attack the basket, and a 9-0 spell took Swifts 13-5 ahead.  Lilly Annim and the vastly improved Regan Boyle also got onto the scoresheet and at the end of the first quarter, it was 18-9.

When the Essex team had five points in the opening 90 seconds, it could well have been a rout.  But Angels always have a redoubtable spirit and a 9-2 run brought it back to 25-18.  Swifts recovered their composure and six points from Butt were part of an 8-4 spell that took them 33-22 ahead at half time.

Southend knew only too well that this game was not over.  They managed just two points in the first five minutes of the 3rd period as the margin reduced to just 35-28.  But five points from Redhead, including a three-pointer, restored the momentum and with 10 minutes remaining, Swifts led 43-34.

Again Southend started slowly as the lead narrowed to just six.  Scores from Butt and Annim got the lead back to double digits again and that was where it remained at 50-40 with two minutes to play.  Angels maintained their fight but could never get closer than six and that was the final margin as Swifts recorded a very tough 52-46 win that took them into the next day’s final.

NATIONAL FINAL FOURS – UNDER 18 GIRLS SEMI FINAL

PECKHAM PRIDE 76  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

As the only girls club with three teams in the Final Fours, it was always going to be a hectic weekend and immediately after the under 14 game, the under 18s were in action.  They had the toughest of tasks, meeting the all-conquering Peckham Pride, who are this season’s league and cup winners.

When the Londoners had the first five points, the omens did not look good.  But this Southend team have twice been champions and know what it takes to be successful. In the space of two minutes Claire Gold, Megan Jones and Charlotte Ellmore all made three-point shots as an 11-0 run took them six points ahead.  But Peckham are equally tough and excellent shooting from them tied the game up.  Zoe Willis’ entry into the game gave Swifts a spark and baskets from Charlotte Bennett and Amber Evans helped their team to a narrow 22-20 first quarter lead.

Still neither team could make the decisive break as tenacious defence from both teams meant there were just five points scored in the opening five minutes of the second period.  Pride broke the deadlock with the next four but a three-point play from Emily Taylor gave Southend the lead again.  After Peckham evened matters again, Captain Jones took over proceedings.  She had her team’s next seven points, four from four from the foul line plus another three-pointer, as Swifts led 35-32 at half time.

Still the teams battled.  Peckham edged ahead at 39-38 before baskets from Gold and Willis took Swifts three ahead.  Then came what looked like the decisive passage of play as Pride had nine straight to lead 48-42 after six minutes.  But again Swifts resolve took over.  A three-point play from Evans was part of a 14-5 spell that stunned the large crowd giving Southend a very unlikely 56-53 lead going into the final quarter.

The momentum continued as Willis had the next five points.  With Gold having running repairs to an ankle injury, Jones came back into the fray and her third three-pointer of the day made it 64-53 as Peckham were held scoreless for six minutes.  But after making another pair of foul shots, Jones fouled out and this gave Pride renewed hope.  They made eight straight points as Swifts lead reduced to just one at 70-69.  The Essex side could manage just one more point as Peckham had the final seven points to win a monumental battle by 76 points to 71.

For many of the Swifts, this was their last junior game before they move on to university.  The performance was magnificent, probably surprising even themselves, and they will know the credit they have brought to themselves and the club over the past six years.

NATIONAL FINAL FOURS – UNDER 16 GIRLS SEMI FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76  SURREY GOLDHAWKS 43

So after the disappointment of the under 18 semi final, it was the turn of the under 16s to see whether they could get through to the grand final.  Their opponents were Surrey Goldhawks, the only team to inflict defeat on Southend during the league season, albeit in very controversial circumstances.

With the scores tied at six after three minutes. Swifts turned up the pressure.  Seven points from Charlotte Ellmore was followed by a Georgia Powell three-pointer and the lead was 10.  Surrey replied with the next four but the introduction of Katie Bennett and Tia Stack only upped the intensity.  They shared nine of the next eleven points as their team led 27-12 at the first interval.

The second period was surprisingly more subdued as both teams struggled to find the target.  Ellmore again led the way as defences came to the fore.  There were just 26 points scored in total in the quarter as Southend’s lead moved out to 41-24.

But the third period would see a remarkable change rarely seen in a National semi-final.  Powell scored a three-pointer in the first minute to which Surrey replied with a two point shot that would be their only score in the 10 minute period,  Powell had three three-pointers and Ellmore one as Goldhawks struggled to even get the ball out of their own half.  The scoreline going into the final quarter 59-26 and the game effectively over.

As always, Swifts gave all their players the opportunity of being on the big stage.  Jodie Tobaiwa scored from close range and when Millie Withers had the final five points, including a three-pointer, the job had been emphatically done with a resounding 76-43 win.  This was a truly team effort.  Whilst Ellmore, Powell and Bennett were the leading scorers, Grace Crook with 14 rebounds and the diminutive and tireless Stack with 8 steals, 5 assists and 8 rebounds displaying all that was needed to get the victory.

NATIONAL FINAL FOURS – UNDER 16 GIRLS FINAL

MANCHESTER MYSTICS 56  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 58

So day two saw the finals in all age groups and Southend Swifts contesting two of them.  First up would be the under 16 girls who would have the toughest of tasks meeting the home town Manchester Mystics, winners of the North Premier Division.

Manchester made the better start, scoring the first five points, but an 8-2 run for Swifts took them ahead – Rhian Simpson with four.  The teams traded baskets before a pair of foul shots gave Mystics a narrow 17-15 lead at the end of the opening 10 minutes.

But with the home crowd behind them, Manchester continued to press ahead.  A 7-2 run took them 24-17 ahead and they maintained the advantage at 30-23 after seven minutes.  But a time out, and a defensive re-alignment, paid instant dividends as Charlotte Ellmore, Tia Stack and Katie Bennett all converted off steals to make it a one point game.  After the game was tied at 32 with an Ellmore three-point play, Mystics had the final basket to lead 35-32 at half time.

But for the second day running, Swifts would make the third quarter their own.   Yet another Powell three-pointer triggered an 11-0 run as Mystics failed to score for almost seven minutes.  They hit back with seven straight but Powell and Stack both from behind the three-point line and an Ellmore lay-up made it 51-42 going into the final 10 minutes of the season for these players.

However, Swifts knew the task was not done.  Manchester had the next five points with Southend replying with three foul shots.  But the loss of Stack and Grace Crook to five fouls each would change the equilibrium as a 6-1 run reduced the Essex side’s lead to just two.  When they had the next three, Mystics lead was 56-55 with two minutes to play and the noise in the hall absolutely deafening.

This was the time for composure.  Southend continued to attack the Manchester zone and Bennett was able to get to the foul line on three occasions.  Each time she converted one from two and with 10 seconds left Swifts led by two but Manchester with the ball.  As it has been all season, the Swifts defence remained strong as Powell snared the turnover for Ellmore to run the clock down and secure the most sensational of victories.  Ellmore was awarded most valuable player with 18 points and 14 rebounds but Powell’s 15 points, Bennett’s 14 points and 10 rebounds and Simpson’s 15 rebounds were part of another monumental team effort.

NATIONAL FINAL FOURS – UNDER 14 GIRLS FINAL

SURREY GOLDHAWKS 59  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 58

So after the euphoria of the under 16 game, it was the turn of the under 14s to seek to become national champions.  They would meet Surrey Goldhawks, joint winners of the South Division.

Four points from Poppy Herd settled the nerves and a three-pointer from Charlotte Redhead and a Lilly Annim offensive rebound gave Swifts a 9-2 lead.  Four points from Eleanor Butt took the margin back to seven at 17-10 but Surrey had the final three to trail just 17-13 at the end of the first period.

The teams traded baskets through the next three minutes before Anna Trett hit a purple patch that saw her score six points in less than a minute and extend the lead to 27-18.  This moved to 34-22 with two minutes remaining.  But Swifts lost their concentration, conceding the final eight points, meaning they led just 34-30 at the half time interval.

The third period would see a complete change.  Although the rules at under 14 level are very specific about defensive formations, Southend captain Redhead continually found herself marked by two players and with the bruises to prove it.  Surrey, led by the excellent Monique Sahnan, took full advantage moving out to a 43-36 lead and they maintained that advantage at 47-40 going into the final stanza.

When Goldhawks had the first basket, it was a nine point gap and despite a three-pointer and a pair of foul shots from Redhead, a 6-2 run took Surrey 55-47 ahead with just four minutes to play. But the Swifts captain put her team on her shoulders and took over proceedings.  A three-point play was followed by a pair of foul shots and suddenly the crowd could sense a remarkable comeback.  Butt with a lay-up and then another pair of foul shots gave Southend the lead at 56-55 and the roof about to come off the sports hall.

For players so young, this was a huge test of character.  Surrey had the next four points and they led by three going into the final minute.  With 30 seconds remaining, the score was the same but following a time-out, Redhead scored again, to make it a one-point game.  Swifts secured the turnover and with three seconds to play they had the ball.  With Redhead now being physically held by two opponents, she was unable to get the ball.  There was a final shot, which dropped short, and Swifts had lost a pulsating game by just 59 points to 58 – a superb spectacle.

So at the end of a superb weekend, Swifts ended with one national championship, one runner-up by one point and one in joint 3rd place.  A magnificent all round performance from a club with a very small catchment area for players compared to teams from big cities.


16th anc 17th April 2016

UNDER 14 GIRLS – NATIONAL PLAY-OFF QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76  BRIGHTON COUGARS 51

So after the success of their under 18 clubmates the previous week, it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 14 girls to see if they could get to the biggest event of the season; the Final Fours.  They would meet Brighton Cougars, a club of very long-standing, and whose team had narrowly finished in 3rd place in the very competitive South Division.  Southend know they would have to be at their best to maintain their season’s unbeaten record.

Southend opened the scoring but five points from Brighton’s excellent Amelia Sandie gave her team the early lead.  Swifts captain Charlotte Redhead tied the game up and four points from the same player took Swifts 10-8 up after four minutes.  But the next three minutes would see a crucial passage of play as Eleanor Butt had the next 10 points, getting on the end of some outstanding team passing.  Cougars hit back, reducing the deficit to just nine before another Redhead score made it 27-16 at the end of the first quarter.

But it was the visitors who made the better start to the second period, scoring the first six points to trail just 27-22 as Southend went scoreless for four minutes.  But despite some poor foul shooting, the hosts re-took the initiative.  From 30-24, they scored nine straight as Brighton struggled when their 6’ centre Alex Baker was forced to the bench with foul trouble.  The continuing defensive intensity of Skye Stack slowed down the Cougars offence sparking the offence and in the last two minutes Swifts made an 8-2 run, with four from Lilly Annim and two from Poppy Herd, to give them a 47-26 lead at half time.

But the young Swifts knew they would have to be on their guard against strong opponents, who would certainly look to upset their defensive intensity.  The scoring rate slowed at both ends of the court as Swifts retained their 20 point advantage.  Trett and Regan Boyle maintained pressure on the ball as Annim dominated the rebounds.  Another Redhead three-pointer extended the margin and with the final 10 minutes to play, it was 61-37.

The teams largely traded baskets with an outrageous hook shot from Redhead bringing prolonged applause.  Butt continued to find room and the basket from a variety of angles and soon it was time for all the Swifts players to take to the court.  Brighton had the last six points, but there was no way back as Southend recorded a 76-51 victory against a very fine team.

Swifts will play their national semi final on Saturday 30th April in Manchester against old friends Haringey Angels.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – NATIONAL PLAY-OFF QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 99  NORTHAMPTON TITANS 45

So with the under 18 and under 14 teams qualified, it was now the opportunity for Southend Swifts under 16 girls to try and achieve the grand slam for the club when they played their National Play-Off quarter final on their home court at Seevic College.  Having won the South Premier Division, Southend met Northampton Titans, who were 4th in the North Division.

The hosts were determined to stamp their authority from the start.  Five points from Georgia Powell were the start of a 16-2 run in the first four minutes that saw Charlotte Ellmore and Katie Bennett also on target.  With Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson dominating the rebounds, the lead was 25-10 at the end of the first quarter.

Fifteen straight points in the first three minutes took the lead to an improbable 30 and personnel changes already in force.  Shannon Brook made two nice 12 foot shots as Titans fought bravely to keep in the game; the score at half time standing at 48-22.

But these Swifts young ladies, so outstanding all season, wanted to ensure that their last home game as an under 16 team would be one to remember.  They put together 39 points in the 10 minute period, with Ellmore contributing 18 including three three-pointers, as the crowd marved to the speed and dexterity of the entire squad..  The score standing at 87-35 with one stanza to play.

The final period was much less intense as the starters sat out allowing all of the players the opportunity of involvement.  The final score of 99-45 a testimony to the strength of the group.

The national semi final on 30th April in Manchester will tip at 4.15 against Surrey Goldhawks.


This victory leaves Swifts as the only club in the country to have teams in all of the girls Final Fours.

9th and 10th April 2016

UNDER 18 GIRLS – NATIONAL PLAY-OFF QUARTER FINAL

MANCHESTER MYSTICS 70   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76

The playoffs of a sports league are a competition played after the regular season by the top teams to determine the league champion.  Whilst they afford lower placed teams the opportunity to stay in the competition, the odds are heavily stacked in favour of the higher-placed team, as they have home advantage for the one-off tie.

So it was for Southend Swifts under 18 girls to make the long trip on Sunday morning to take on Manchester Mystics, part of the strongest club in England and with a home unbeaten record at this age level dating back five seasons.  Swifts were third in the very-competitive South Conference with three defeats from 20 games, whilst Manchester had suffered just one playing loss in the season.

In front of a large and noisy crowd, Southend made the better start, taking a 6-2 lead with Emily Taylor active on the offensive boards.  But Manchester hit back, and six straight points gave them a 9-7 lead after five minutes.  With defences on top, neither side had any easy baskets before Swifts ended the opening quarter with a basket from Zoe Willis and a pair of Charlotte Bennett foul shots that left the scores tied at 14.

Still neither side could get clear.  Willis and Megan Jones helped the visitors to a 19-18 lead and another pair of Bennett foul shots made it 23-22.  But Mystics’ excellent Gina Brierley had her team’s next eight points and suddenly the home side led 30-26 with eight minutes of the second period played.    15 year old Charlotte Ellmore steadied the ship with four points and when Claire Gold made a sort-range jump shot, Swifts led by two.  However, Manchester were intent on keeping their proud home record, and they finished the half with a 7-2 run to lead 37-34 at the midway break.

The tension was palpable with neither side scoring in the first two minutes before Mystics registered the first basket. Jones, with a three-pointer, and Gold with an offensive rebound brought it back to a two-point game.  And so the pivotal third quarter went; Manchester edging in front, 52-48 in the 8th minute, and Southend pegging them back.  Swifts defence was outstanding, Amber Evans her normal tower of strength, as Manchester were denied any second chance scores.  It was 54-53 to the hosts going into the last two minutes but three from four from the foul line gave the Essex side a 56-54 advantage going into the final stanza.

With spectators from the boys’ game on the accompanying court coming over to watch, this was now theatre of the highest order.  Just six points in the first four minutes saw the scores tied at 58.  A 5-2 spell, with tough inside baskets from Bennett and Gold, took Swifts 63-60 ahead after seven minutes before Manchester again leveled the game up.  With the noise at a crescendo, Jones hit her 3rd three-pointer of the game to get her team ahead but Mystics replied and with two minutes remaining, Swifts lead was 66-65.  Willis got to the basket for two points but the home side had the next three and it was 68 all with 90 seconds to play.

Swifts had the ball and with the calmness of a veteran, Ellmore made a three-point shot.  Mystics again replied and into the final minute it was 71-70.  But this Southend team have won two national championships and were determined that they would not end their careers without one last Final Fours appearance.  A defensive stop saw Willis fouled and she made both foul shots.  Manchester failed to deal with the defensive pressure and an easy fast break saw Willis score again.  But it still wasn’t over, and a third stop saw Jones with the interception.  She was fouled and made one shot to clinch an outstanding victory in the kind of encounter that is needed much more regularly than just in the play-offs.

Once again, Swifts’ strength was their all-round strength.  Jones with 19 points and 5 steals, Ellmore 15 points and 7 assists, Gold 12 and a remarkable 29 rebounds, Willis 11 and 4 steals, Bennett 7 points and 8 rebounds, Taylor 6 points and 5 rebounds, Evans 3 points, 7 rebounds and three blocked shots.


19th and 20th March 2016

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

WEST HERTS WARRIORS 43  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 93

The final weekend of the regular season saw three Southend Swifts teams in action, all looking to achieve, or consolidate, their play-off places.   First into action were the under 16 girls, who had clinched first place in the division but wanted to ensure they ended on a high when they visited West Herts Warriors.

There was certainly no complacency as Southend ran in the first 12 points with Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell sharing the spoils.  Warriors finally managed a reply but Swifts defensive abilities were reaping constant rewards as they ended the first quarter with a 28-7 lead.

When they scored the first 10 points of the second period, the lead was over 30.  Changes of personnel had little effect as Tonie Abbott, Shannon Brook and Chelsea Locke all got onto the scoresheet and at half time it was 54-16.

The third quarter was much more subdued.  Ellmore continued her rich vein of form as the margin increased.  Grace Crook was once again a tower of strength at both ends of the court and with 10 minutes remaining it was 70-25.

A 15-2 run saw both Ellmore and Powell sitting out as Swifts ended up with a very comfortable finale with a 93-43 win that made them the first-ever winners of the South Premier Division. The victory clinching a home tie in the play-off quarter finals.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD LEOPARDS 44   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 112

Southend Swifts under 18 men made the short journey to Brentwood Leopards on Saturday, the final match in their league campaign and crucial to ensure their place in the play-offs.

Swifts started brightly behind scores for Jamie Matthews, Harry Harwood and Dan Davies as they took an early lead.  Wholesale changes saw a second five finish up the opening quarter, with Tyler Barlow, Connor Walton and Dec Gould all profiting from good ball movement to give their side a 27-10 lead.

The second period saw an increase in scoring for the visitors, but this was at the expense of their defensive pressure as they allowed Leopards to get hot from beyond the three-point line.  Scott Williams and Zack Littlejohn got into the scoring act, as Swifts poured in 33 points in the period, also enjoying success from long range.  The visitors leading 60-30 at the half.  

A more determined defensive effort saw Swifts hold their opponents to just five points in the third, whilst managing 28 of their own.  Patience on offence was complimented by a deft shooting touch as Swifts built their lead to 88-35, Josh Powell enjoying six points within the quarter.                      

With the final 10 minutes in front of them, Swifts had a new target to aim for; getting all players to make a three-point shot.  Matthews took on the mantle of point guard and scored, then Tom Butt connected with a pair of three,. before Gould made his with two minutes to play, to record a successful score from beyond the arc for all players involved.  Swifts taking the victory by a margin of 112-44.

Matthews led the way with 15 points followed by Harwood and Davies with 14 respectively - the latter enjoying the best shooting day of his career.  

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

NORTHAMPTON TITANS 56  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79

So the final club league game of the season saw Southend Swifts under 14 girls travel to Northampton Titans.  This was a crucial fixture for both teams, with the hosts needing a win to get into the play-offs whilst Southend were looking to maintain their unbeaten record.  Swifts were missing Skye Stack, out with an ankle injury, and were looking to nurse Lilly Annim through the game with a similar but less serious ailment.

As to be expected, the hosts came out with all guns blazing, determined to get the victory.  Southend struggled to get through a defensive formation deemed legal by the match officials and at the end of the first quarter they found themselves trailing by 20 points to 9.

But the second quarter saw a major change in the fortunes of the Essex side.  Captain Charlotte Redhead took complete control and her two three-pointers in the period were part of a 13 point personal haul and the deficit reduced to just two as Titans led 35-33.

Again it was Northampton who started the stronger although Annim and Eleanor Butt were starting to find space around the basket.  The home side led 45-38 after six minutes of the third quarter before another Redhead long-range effort were part of an 8-2 spell that took Swifts 49-47 ahead with one stanza remaining.

But this was a Swifts team determined to maintain their record.  Redhead had seven of the next eleven points, including her 4th three-pointer of the day as the lead began to mount.  Eleanor Butt finally found her range and with Regan Boyle and Anna Trett showing huge tenacity at both ends of the court the margin went into double figures.  Annim left the court to huge applause for her valiant efforts and with Poppy Herd hitting a pair of foul shots the job was complete by the surprising margin of 79-36.  Annim with 12 points, Butt 11 and Boyle 9 had made big contributions but this was the captain’s day.  Redhead, just 14 years old, had 37 points with 4 for 5 shooting from three-point range to take her team through.


12th and 13th March 2016

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

CAMBRIDGE CATS 51  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68

Southend Swifts under 18 men travelled short-handed to Cambridge Cats on Saturday, looking to continue their rich vein of form.

The game began at a very slow pace, with Swifts taking seven minutes to get on the scoreboard.  Scott Williams began to find his range from range with a pair of three-pointers, giving his side a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.  Swifts started at a faster pace in the second, taking their lead to 19-13 behind scores for Josh Powell and Jamie Matthews.  This lead would grow to double figures at 30-19, before Cats narrowed the deficit to 33-27 at the half.

A unusually positive third period from Swifts gave them control of the game, as Harry Harwood recovered from an earlier ankle sprain to weave his way to the basket, whilst also finding his touch from deep;  Captain Dan Davies finding him with ease for open scores.  The score standing at 51-34 at the end of the third period.  Tom Butt got on the scoresheet in the fourth, knocking down jumpshots as his team used their poise to see out the game by a score of 68-51.

Powell led the way with 21 points, followed by Williams with 17 and Harwood on 13

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

BUCKS HORNETS 38  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

The first meeting of the season between these two teams looked to be a difficult assignment for Southend Swifts under 16 girls when they travelled to a vastly improved Bucks Hornets side, who have had some very close results in previous weeks.

Southend made a good start taking a 7-2 lead after four minutes with Katie Bennett contributing four.  Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell were finding gaps in the home sides’ zone defence and they shared 10 points as the margin went over double figures with the scoreboard showing 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Changes of personnel had little effect on the scoring rate as Swifts had 11 straight points in a four minute period on their way to a 37-15 half time lead; Powell with two trademark three-pointers in the period.

A 13-2 spell put the game beyond doubt as all the Southend  got valuable court time with under 14s Lilly Annim and Charlotte Redhead coming to the fore, with the scoreline at 54-26 going into  

the final quarter, and Ellmore and Powell sitting out for good.  In a remarkable sequence, Grace Crook, Redhead and Tia Stack all made three-point shots as Swifts ended with an excellent 72-38 win with Powell on 19 points, Ellmore 14 and Bennett and Redhead 12 each.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 70  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54

For their final game of the season, Southend Swifts under 16 boys made the short journey to take on Southend Scorpions.

Swifts had the better of the opening exchanges, taking a 12-3 lead after five minutes before Scorpions hit back with a 14-0 run to take the initiative.  Swifts replied with eight straight, all from Zack Littlejohn and at the end of the first quarter, they led 20-17.

The second period was equally close as Jordan Sullens and Thomas Sowoolu took over the scoring mantle and at half time, Scorpions led just 31-29.

But the third quarter would see the decisive move.  From 42-41 ahead, Scorpions scored 16 unanswered points that took them clear as Swifts indiscipline cost them dearly.  The final period was largely academic, with Swifts just shading the outcome as they fell to a 70-54 defeat with Littlejohn on 22 points and Sullens 10.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 82  COUNTY UPPER WOLVES 60

For their final home game of the season, Southend Swifts under 14 girls met County Upper Wolves, the team just outside the play-off berths as they sit in 5th place in the league table.  Southend were below full strength, missing two of their usual starting five.

Swifts made a good start, leading 10-4, with Lilly Annim and Regan Boyle with four points each.  Captain Charlotte Redhead was controlling proceedings and her outstanding passing was providing scoring opportunities for her team mates.  From 18-12, the home side ran in 10 of the last 12 points scored to lead 28-14 at the first break.

With Boyle and Anna Trett continuing their vast improvement, the margin was maintained and the introduction of the three youngest – Mia Nicholls, Joyce Jacobs and Sian Hill – having little effect on proceedings, with Nicholls scoring from close range.  At half time the scoreboard showing 46-32.

County Upper’s strange defensive formation was deemed legal by the match officials and this gave them their best spell as they reduced the deficit to just 51-42 midway through the third quarter before Swifts had 14 straight points to lead 65-42 going into the final 10 minutes.  The young Swifts showed remarkable composure against some very dubious tactics and with Annim dominating around the basket, they ran out winners by 82 points to 60.  Annim with a career high 38 points and Redhead 23.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 53  BUCKS HORNETS 38

By a quirk of fate, these two teams met for the second time in 24 hours, this time on Southend’s home court at Seevic College.  Swifts were missing a number of players from the previous days encounter.

The home side had the better of the opening exchanges, taking a 13-4 lead after five minutes, but they would remain scoreless for the remainder of the quarter to lead by just four.  With baskets at a premium, a 10-0 run for Swifts was the decisive move, capped by a three-pointer for the vastly improved Millie Withers.  The lead at half time 28-17.

Three-pointers from Georgia Powell and Charlotte Ellmore were part of a 10-4 spell, with Amelia Wilson and Chelsea Locke both on the scoresheet and at the end of another quiet 10 minutes, it was 39-26.

A 6-2 run for Hornets gave them some hope for an upset but Ellmore and Powell again took over proceedings and at the end it was a relatively comfortable 53-38 victory.  Ellmore with 26 points and Powell 14.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 100  COTSWOLD BASKETBALL 56

For their final regular league game of the season, Southend Swifts under 18 girls met Cotswold Basketball.  The teams had met in the half term holiday two weeks previously when a depleted Southend team recorded a 20 point victory.

It was the visitors that made the better start, taking a 6-2 lead after four minutes before a 12-4 run took Swifts 14-10 ahead; Charlotte Bennett with a three-pointer.  But Cotswold battled hard and at the end of the first quarter, the hosts led just 20-16.

When the visitors had the first basket of the second period, it looked like being a close encounter but Southend captain Megan Jones had other ideas.  She had seven points in a 13-0 run that took the margin to 15 and with Claire Gold finding her shooting touch, the lead was 20.  Bennett and Gold continued to score freely and at half time it was 48-24.

A three-point shot from Emily Taylor got the scoring under way and with Carlie Abbott and Charlotte Ellmore finding the basket Swifts were able to maintain their margin against very determined opponents.  From 61-41, Swifts ended the period with a 13-2 run that took them into the final stanza with a 74-43 lead.

It was just a matter of having the year 13 girls finish out the season, which they did in style as Southend recorded a 100-56 win with six players in double figures.  The play-off spot confirmed but the final league position will depend on other results.


5th and 6th March 2016

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

IPSWICH BOBCATS 60  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 78

Southend Swifts under 16 girls made the early trip up the A12 to take on Ipswich Bobcats, with both teams vying for position for the end-of-season play-offs.  Southend with one loss from fourteen games played and Ipswich three losses from fourteen.

From four points apiece, Swifts defensive pressure began to reap rewards as they ran in the next 10 points.  Captain Amelia Wilson led by example as Katie Bennett and Charlotte Ellmore shared the scoring spoils.  The hosts hit back with an 8-4 run and at the end of the first quarter Southend led 18-12.

But the first five minutes of the second quarter would be the decisive portion of the game.  Swifts went on a sensational 19-2 run that took them clear at 37-14.  Ellmore was in sublime form and with Georgia Powell finding her shooting touch and Tia Stack and Grace Crook coming up with defensive stops, this was team basketball at its’ best.  Bobcats showed good fight and they reduced the deficit to 43-25 at half time.

Southend were in no mood to relinquish control and when Powell made her second three-pointer of the contest, it was 56-35.  Ipswich brought it back to an 18 point gap before Powell made two three-pointers in the space of 40 seconds and that was effectively the game at 63-40 at the end of the third period.

Despite changes in personnel, the margin remained above 20 and although Ipswich had their best spell, with a 10-1 run, Swifts were never really challenged as Powell made her 5th long-range effort as her team recorded a very good 78-60 win to maintain their league standing.  Ellmore with 28 points, Powell 26 and Bennett 14 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

ESSEX JUNIOR BLADES 79  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 82

Southend Swifts under 16 boys looked to get back onto winning ways when they made the journey to Colchester to take on Essex Junior Blades.  Southend are currently in 5th place in the division with their opponents’ two places below.

An 8-0 run midway through the first quarter took Swifts 13-6 ahead and they maintained their advantage to lead 18-13 at the end of the opening 10 minutes; four of the starters already on the scoresheet.  But Blades hit back as Southend’s scoring floundered as the margin began to diminish.  A 9-0 run gave Blades their first lead at 30-28 but Swifts recovered with some excellent foul shooting to lead 36-35 at half time: Thomas Sowoolu dominating the late proceedings.

Six points from Zack Littlejohn were part of a 10-4 run that took the lead to seven and they maintained this at 50-43 after five minutes.  But Blades had six straight and it was a one-point game again.  Despite some frenetic play neither side could establish a meaningful advantage as the scores were tied at 57 going into the final quarter.  And with Sowoolu sitting out with four fouls, this looked a difficult assignment.

The fears certainly looked well-founded as a 9-2 run took the home side 68-59 ahead.  But in a remarkable three minute spell, Swifts reeled off 16 unanswered points with Littlejohn contributing 12.  Just as quickly Blades the next six and it was tied again at 75 with two minutes to play.  Swifts got 78-77 ahead before a clutch pair of free throws from Jordan Sullens gave just enough breathing space to hold on for an 82-79 win.  Littlejohn led the way with 38 points, Sowoolu with 15 and Sullens 12.  

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

ESSEX JUNIOR BLADES 35  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 108

Southend Swifts under 18 men travelled to Essex Blades on Saturday, knowing that they needed to maintain their winning streak to take them into the post-season playoffs.

The game started with Swifts getting out to a quick 9-2 win after two minutes.  This set the tone for the quarter, with Swifts moving the ball quickly and efficiently on offense to take them to a 35-8 lead at the end of the period.  The pace noticeably dropped in the second quarter, as the hosts began to find their way into the game, dealing with a more relaxed Swifts defence.  Personnel changes were frequent for the visitors and those coming off the bench demonstrated their justification for additional playing time; in particular Tom Butt showed relentless determination on defence.  Under-16 player Tom Sowoolu also took advantage of court time and helped himself to six points in the quarter, as Swifts led 55-18 at half time.

The third period followed a similar procession to the second, as Swifts again looked to change both plays and players with high frequency.  Butt found himself open time and again and converted his chances to knock down nine points in the quarter, giving his side a 77-30 lead going into the fourth.  The final period had greater intensity from Swifts, who turned increased defensive pressure into scoring opportunities.  Tyler Barlow found his range from deep, knocking down a pair of threes, as his side recorded a comfortable 108-35 victory.

Dec Gould led the way with 31 points, followed by Harry Harwood with 18 and Josh Powell with 11.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

OAKLAND COLLEGE WOLVES 32  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 90

The first of two games at the weekend for Southend Swifts under 14 girls saw them travel to St Albans to take on Oakland College Wolves.  Southend were looking to maintain their unbeaten record whilst Oaklands were seeking their third win of the campaign.

The first quarter saw the bizarre situation of the home side failing to score as Swifts ran in 27 points, with all of the starters on the scoresheet.  This gave the visitors the dilemma of either running up a cricket score, which would potentially help their overall league placing, or give all of their players the opportunity of court time.  As always, it was the second course of action that was chosen, with Anabelle Yates-Ringshall and Mia Nicholls registering scores.  Captain Charlotte Redhead made back-to-back three-pointers and at half time, the lead was 51-17.

Regan Boyle, Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt kept the scoreboard gently turning as Wolves managed just five points in the 3rd period as the lead approached 50.  But in the 4th quarter, Swifts gave extended playing time to their three youngest; Nicholls and Joyce Jacobs both year 7 and Sian Hill still at primary school.  And all three showed how much they have progressed this year with Hill registering her best-ever national league score of 11 points as her team gently made their way to a 90-32 victory.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD LEOPARDS 29  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94

For their second game of the weekend, Southend Swifts under 14 girls travelled to Brentwood to take on the home town Leopards.  The teams had met the previous week with Southend recording a 94-37 victory.

In a cold, dark and slippery hall, Swifts made a very uncharacteristically slow start failing to score in the opening three minutes.  Fortunately Leopards could only manage one basket themselves before Southend had the next five to take their first lead.  But normal shots would not drop before a three-point basket from Charlotte Redhead and an old-fashioned three-point play from Anna Trett helped their team to a narrow 22-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But the second period would see a complete change.  10 straight points for Eleanor Butt started a sequence of 21 unanswered points before the hosts managed a score.  It was 23-2 in the quarter and 45-16 at half time.

The remainder of the game saw Swifts run their entire squad.  Lilly Annim and Butt dominated the third quarter as their team put up 31 points with Skye Stack exerting good defensive pressure; the margin growing to 76-22.  The final quarter was simply a further opportunity for everyone to play as Swifts completed a 94-29 win that strengthens their position at the top of the table.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

KINGSTON LADY WILDCATS 34   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 89

So the final game of a hectic club weekend saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls travel to Surrey to take on Kingston Lady Wildcats.  Southend are currently in 3rd place in the table with Kingston in 9th position.

Swifts were determined to stamp their authority on the game and with 12 straight points in the first three minutes the intentions were clear to everyone.  It was 18-5 after five minutes before the Essex side had the next 13 points and it was 31-7 at the first interval.

When they racked up the next 12, it was a 25-0 run and a 43-7 scoreline with the job done.  Changes of personnel had little effect and at half time it was 55-13.

Unsurprisingly the intensity dropped markedly in the second half, proceedings only marred by a knee injury to Sasha Cornell that will almost certainly end her season.  The final score of 89-34 reflected the gap between the teams with Charlotte Ellmore on 24 points, Charlotte Bennett 22, Claire Gold 16 and Amber Evans 11.


27th and 28th February 2016

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

WANDSWORTH WOLVES 43   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

Southend Swifts under 18 girls team travelled to South London to meet Wandsworth Wolves in their quest to maintain their hold on a play-off place.  They were not helped by the normal traffic chaos in the capital, meaning most players were delayed and three only reached the venue just before half time.

Wandsworth made the stronger start, taking an 8-4 lead, with only Emily Taylor on target for Southend.  But a 13-2 run gave Swifts a meaningful advantage at 17-10 at the end of the first quarter.  The second period was even more decisive.  Runs of 11-2 and 10-2 took the margin to 24 as Kacey Realf and Captain Megan Jones dominated along with Taylor.

With the late arrivals getting onto court in the third quarter, the play became more disjointed, with just nine points scored before the final period saw a better showing as Swifts closed out with a 71-43 win that keeps them firmly in position for the end-of-season activities.  Taylor with 27 points, Jones 16 and Realf 8 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76  EAST HERTS ROYALS 58

Southend Swifts under 18 Men welcomed East Hertfordshire Royals to Seevic College on Saturday, the first of two games for the side that weekend.

Swifts started brightly with a 10-2 run behind baskets for Harry Harwood, Jamie Matthews and Josh Powell.  Royals got themselves back into the game, but the hosts began to find their range from beyond the three-point line with scores from Powell and Harwood, as Swifts led 24-20 at the end of the first.  Scott Williams and Tom Butt also got themselves onto the scoresheet in the second quarter as their side opened up a ten-point lead at 35-25.  This was stretched to 15 at the half with Dec Gould finding his usual scoring touch around the basket.

Swifts' customary third quarter sluggish performance came back to haunt them as they allowed Royals to chip away at the deficit they were facing.  Time and again Swifts made poor passes that were easily intercepted and turned into transition scores.  However they were able to steady themselves somewhat, clinging onto their lead at 57-51 with one period left.  Williams opened the scoring in the fourth with a three-pointer, before a pair of scores for Gould and another three from Williams calmed the nerves.  Swifts continued to score without response and at 73-53 the contest became relatively comfortable for the hosts.  The final score stood at 76-58 for Swifts.

Gould led the way with 19, followed by Harwood with 17 and Powell with 14.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94  BRENTWOOD LEOPARDS 37

Southend Swifts under 14 girls looked to maintain their unbeaten league record when they met Brentwood Leopards on their home court at Seevic College.  This was the first meeting between the teams this season.

Southend took the early advantage as nine points from Captain Charlotte Redhead took them 12-4 ahead.  Brentwood hit back with a three-pointer before Swifts ran in the last eight points as Lilly Annim began to dominate with her team leading 20-7 at the first break.

The second period would more than consolidate the position.  Skye Stack and Eleanor Butt led an initial 8-2 spell and from 30-14 up, the hosts ran in the next 15 points to put the result beyond doubt.  The changes in personnel had little effect as Anna Trett and Anabelle Yates-Ringshall found the basket and at half time it was 54-18.

Although the scoring rate dropped in the third quarter, the home side still had the better of proceedings as Poppy Herd, Butt and Stack kept the scoring moving; the margin with 10 minutes to play at 70-23. Thirteen straight points put the icing on the cake as Annim and Redhead left the court to prolonged applause after five minutes as their team moved out to a comfortable 94-37 victory.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 92  HOUNSLOW HAWKS 27

A severely depleted Hounslow Hawks side knew they were in for a tough afternoon when they travelled to take on Southend Swifts under 16 girls.  The home side need to maintain their form to ensure winning the first-ever South Premier division.

And the opening four minutes ensured the outcome.  With Charlotte Ellmore in sublime form, Southend had the first 18 points to take complete control.  Hawks had the next four before Swifts had a 19-2 run over the remainder of the opening quarter to lead 37-6 and the game over.

Changes of personnel took away some of the fluency as the scoring rate dropped but Millie Withers and Katie Bennett shared 10 points as the half time lead stood at 50-10.  The third quarter was more business-like as Swifts ran in the last 16 points to lead 72-14 going into the final stanza.

Again, this was more subdued as the very plucky Hounslow side continued to battle.  The final score of 92-27 was not quite the match either team wanted as Swifts maintained their position at the top of the table.  Ellmore with 34 points and Bennett 28 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71  COUNTY UPPER 63

The second game of the weekend for Southend Swifts under 18 men saw them host County Upper Wolves in a fixture that would have a big implication on playoff placings within the division.

The game opened evenly, with the scores level at 8-8 midway through the first, before Swifts began to find their offensive rhythm.  Harwood started the scoring from three-point territory, before Powell took over with three threes of his own in the quarter.  This outstanding start to the game left Swifts leading 30-12 after the first, led largely by the impressive passing of Captain Dan Davies.  The second period was a much more balanced affair, with Swifts continuing to score from deep, but not at will as was the case in the first.  A pair of threes for Williams and one for Harwood kept the scoreboard ticking over with Swifts holding a 44-27 lead at the half.

For the second day running, another poor third quarter from Swifts allowed the visitors to take the initiative as a 23-16 scoreline brought the score to just 60-50 with one period remaining;  Powell and Gould having kept the home side's score going forward.  Wolves narrowed the deficit to seven early in the fourth, before a run of scores from Gould, Harwood and Powell took the lead out to double figures at 69-55.  With a finale to the game that lacked any real drama, Swifts took a hard-earned victory 71-63.

Powell led the way with 23, followed by Harwood with 17 and Gould with 15.


20th and 21st February 2016

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

COTSWOLD BASKETBALL 51  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

The weekend started on Thursday when Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled to the West Country during the half term break to take on Cotswold Basketball.  Southend had a depleted line-up with three under 14 players on the roster.

Despite scoring the first two baskets, Southend were not able to establish a meaningful advantage and in a low scoring contest, lead just 11-8 in the 8th minute before four points from Emily Taylor gave the visitors a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.

But the start of the second period would see the crucial passage of play.  In six minutes, Swifts scored 13 unanswered points to lead by 17; Carlie Abbott, Charlotte Bennett and Taylor heading the scoring burst.  From 31-17, there were another six straight points and at half time it was 39-21; the final Swifts score from 13 year old Regan Boyle.

The second half was a much less intense time with Taylor continuing to be the main scoring threat.  Southend ended the contest with all three youngsters on court as they eased to a 71-51 win, with Taylor on a club high of 33 points.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

COUNTY UPPER 65  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

Southend Swifts under 18 men travelled to County Upper in Suffolk on Saturday, knowing that the result would be pivotal in determining who would finish second in the East Conference, thus achieving a place in the post-season playoffs.

The match started in unspectacular fashion with Swifts holding a 5-2 lead midway through the first quarter.  With neither side able to find any rhythm offensively, the period ended with a scoreline of 8-8.

For what the opening stanza lacked, the second made up for as both teams acclimatised to the pace of the game.  Swifts were able to turn good defensive rotations into extra possessions and with Scott Williams finding his range from three-point land - two in the quarter - Swifts got out to a ten-point lead.  However, the hosts chipped away at the deficit and trailed just 29-25 at the half.

The third quarter started with great intensity from County Upper, who were able to harass and stifle the visitors, causing numerous turnovers and leading to fast break scores.  When interceptions were not forthcoming, they were able to move the ball well on offence and make the open shot, most notably from beyond the arc.  When Swifts' influential scorer Dec Gould fouled out midway through the quarter, to rapturous applause from both the opponents and their fans, Swifts trailed by seven and things looked ominous.  Some toughness, both physically and mentally, from the Southend side brought them back in touching distance at 51-46 with one quarter remaining.

It was in this final quarter that Swifts showed the determination and smarts that at times has eluded them. Good defensive rotations and awareness on offence saw them attack the basket with a ferocity not normally associated with the side.  Jamie Matthews continued to battle close to the basket, recording scores and drawing fouls.  Josh Powell forced his way to the basket for tough scores and Harry Harwood utilised both his pace and deft shooting touch to get his side in front.  To add to this, under-16 player Zack Littlejohn dictated the flow of the game to set up the offence and also find scoring opportunities for himself - aided by the kind touch of the backboard.  As the intensity of the game reached a crescendo, Swifts emerged with a hard-fought 72-65 victory.

Matthews led the way with 19 points, followed by Gould and Williams with 13 apiece and Harwood with 11.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – NATIONAL CUP FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 40  PECKHAM PRIDE 74

Southend Swifts under 18 girls were very much second best when they were beaten 74-40 by an exuberant Peckham Pride in the National Cup Final played at the University of East London Sportsdock.

After a promising start, when they trailed just 15-12 at the end of the first quarter, Southend failed to find the basket for six and a half minutes of the second period by which time they found themselves 22 points behind.  A succession of missed shots, particularly from the foul line, created a situation where the Essex side were always playing catch-up, and despite scoring the final seven points they faced a deficit of 15 going into the second half.

The third period was a much closer contest but once again a failure to score from any distance, near or far,   prevented Swifts being able to exert any kind of pressure on their disciplined opponents.  And the final quarter saw the Londoners complete a very well-deserved victory by 74 points to 40.

Swifts Chairman Paul May said “obviously our players were disappointed with their display on the day.  They are certainly our best under 18 team for a very long time and it was a great shame that their poorest performance of the season came on the big stage.  But the league play-offs are ahead and I know they will go all out to ensure they reach the National Finals and this time bring home the silverware”.


13th and 14th February 2016

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84  BRENTWOOD FIRE 62

Southend Swifts under 16 boys met Brentwood Fire, looking to consolidate their position in the top four in the East Conference.  Brentwood had won the first encounter by 26 points earlier in the season, so this was sure to be a very tough encounter

The early exchanges were even with Brentwood holding a 7-5 lead after three minutes before Southend had a 14-4 run to lead by eight, aided by a Daniel Bull three-pointer.  The visitors hit back with a 5-2 spell and at the end of the first quarter, Swifts led 21-16.

Neither team could make a decisive break.  Successive three-point shots from Nick Skinner and Zack Littlejohn took Swifts’ lead to 10 at 34-24 before a late long-range effort for Brentwood made it 36-29 at the half time break.

Fire certainly lived up to their name in the third quarter.  From a deficit of eight with just two minutes to play, they drew level with a plethora of three-point shots – five in the period – the scoreline showing 54 points apiece with the final 10 minutes to play.

Four points from Thomas Sowoolu were part of a 6-4 spell that took the home side two ahead, before came a remarkable transformation.  Southend had the next 17 points as they showed a poise that has been lacking in the majority of matches.  The ball moved quickly and accurately and with Littlejohn connecting on three long-range efforts, Swifts surprised even themselves as they ended with a surprisingly comfortable 84-62 win.  Littlejohn with 31 points, Sowoolu 18 and Skinner 17 leading the scoring.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

OAKLANDS COLLEGE WOLVES 54   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 75

After their controversial defeat the previous week, Southend Swifts under 16 girls looked to get back to winning ways when they travelled to St Albans to take on Oaklands College Wolves.

Oaklands made the better start, leading 5-2 in the 3rd minute, before Southend had four straight to lead by one.  But the home side had 10 of the next 13 points and they held on to lead 17-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Swifts were struggling to get their rhythm, with only Katie Bennett and Rhian Simpson troubling the scorekeeper and after four minutes of the second period, they still trailed by four at 22-18.  When Wolves had the next six points, they led by 10 with three minutes to play and an upset looked possible.  But Southend ended the quarter with a 10-4 run of their own as Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell began to dominate, leaving the hosts just 32-28 ahead at half time.

The half time instructions were obviously to continue where the team left off.  And, remarkably, Swifts ran in the first 18 points as they completely dominated their opponents.  Tia Stack and Grace Crook, along with Bennett, Ellmore and Simpson performed defensive miracles that prevented the Oaklands guards even getting the ball out of their own half.  When Powell, who had suffered a knock to the head, came back into the game to make a three-point shot, the margin approached 20, a complete transformation.  A pair of foul shots from Tonie Abbott and a late Stack basket making it 56-38 going into the final stanza; a 28-6 quarter score.

The hosts got back as close as 13 at 61-48 but a 10-4 took the lead above 20 and that was where it stayed as Swifts recorded an excellent 75-54 win with Powell on 19 points, Bennett 18 and Ellmore 17.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 93  WEST HERTS WARRIORS 72

Southend Swifts under 14 girls knew they would be in for a difficult task when they met West Herts Warriors, who currently sit in 2nd place in the very competitive East Midlands Conference.  Southend had captain Charlotte Redhead in their line-up having recovered from an ankle injury the previous week.

It was very close early on, as Swifts led just 10-8 after five minutes.  But four points from Skye Stack started a good run and with Lilly Annim contributing six points and Redhead finding the basket from three-point range; the lead at the end of the first quarter was 27-17.

The opening three minutes was much more Swifts-like.  An 11-2 run took the margin to 38-19 and would have been expected to be the forerunner to a comfortable home win.  But Warriors showed their fighting spirit and with their defensive formation deemed legal by the referees, they put together a 12-3 spell that reduced the margin to 10, with only Eleanor Butt scoring for Southend.  Swifts held on to lead 47-35 at half time.

A 6-2 spell looked to have dispelled the home supporters’ nerves, but West Herts again battled back and midway through the third quarter, the lead was just 56-50 and the crowd very excited.  Another Redhead three-pointer created a gap and although Warriors again got close, two scores from Butt made it 66-58 going into the final quarter.

But not for the first time, the young Swifts showed composure beyond their years.  Butt, Annim and Redhead shared eight points and suddenly the lead was 15.  Warriors had the next four before a 7-1 spell made it 81-65 with five minutes to play.  The final 10-2 run, with Anna Trett contributing four, made it 93-72; a slightly flattering margin but nevertheless a well-deserved win.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 53  PECKHAM PRIDE 76

This match-up between Southend Swifts under 18 girls and Peckham Pride, two of the top three teams in the ultra-competitive South Conference, was slightly surreal as the teams would meet again one week later in the National Cup Final.  Southend were missing captain Megan Jones and were nursing one or two players through some niggling injuries.

There was nothing in it early on as Claire Gold’s shooting kept Swifts in the game at just 13-10 behind before Peckham’s change to a zone defence brought them rewards with 13 straight points to lead by 16 at the end of the first quarter.

An even second period saw further good work from Gold and Zoe Willis keep Southend in contention but could never get close enough to exert any real pressure.  It was certainly a very cagey affair, with both teams holding back as Peckham recorded a very good 76-53 win.  Willis with 18 points and Gold 12 leading the scoring.


6th and 7th February 2016

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

NORTHANTS LIGHTNING 50  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 114

Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the relatively long journey up the M1 to take on Northants Lightning,  Southend were looking to maintain their unbeaten record against the team in 7th place with 4 wins from 12 games.

Swifts made their customary fast start, scoring the first eight points before Northants replied.  With captain Charlotte Redhead finding her team mates with pinpoint accuracy, Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt were scoring at will as the visitors had the next 12 points and it was time to start changing personnel.  Even with a much more passive defence, the scoring continued at a very quick rate and at the end of the first quarter the lead was 44-15.

The remainder of the game was much less intense as Swifts ensured all of their players got onto the scoresheet, including the very youngest.  Anna Trett had three successive scores during the 3rd quarter but there was never any sense of simply running up a very high score.  Butt had another 40 point game as she benefitted from the passing of Redhead and Skye Stack but this was another fine all-round display and a victory by 114 points to 50 against a very spirited Northampton side who never let their heads drop.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SURREY GOLDHAWKS 58  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54

For their latest fixture, Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled to Surrey Goldhawks to take on the team sharing second place in the conference table.  Southend had recorded a 25 point victory when the teams met earlier in the season.

As to be expected Surrey came out with great determination, leading by 6 points to 2 in the third minute.  But Swifts showed their style, making a 14-2 run to lead 16-8.  What was surprising was the amount of fouls going against Southend, which was certainly an unusual occurrence for this or any season.  When England guard Charlotte Ellmore found herself on 3 fouls, this made the task all the tougher and although Katie Bennett was getting scoring chances, Goldhawks started to make a comeback although Swifts lead at the end of the first quarter was 20-13.

Despite the concern with fouls, the visitors were able to extend their lead and after five minutes it was 27-15.  But with Ellmore sitting out having collected her 4th foul, and Goldhawks aggressive defence deemed legal by the match officials, the home side were able to take advantage and with 11 points in a very long final minute, they led 30-29 at half time.

So the second half would be a case of Swifts trying to limit the fouls and travels being called against them, whilst attempting to win the match.  And the poise and composure of the young ladies shone through.  Rhian Simpson began to attack the basket along with Bennett and despite a much more passive defence, Swifts led 42-38 after six minutes, which they maintained at 45-42 going into the final period.

A 6-2 run gave Goldhawks the lead by 1 but Swifts came back with a 7-2 spell and they led 54-50 with three minutes to play.  But a series of strange officiating decisions hurt them badly and with Surrey taking advantage of the tense atmosphere, they recorded a 58-54 win.  For Swifts this was a magnificent team effort led by Ellmore with 26 points (plus bruises galore) and Bennett on 19.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 36

After the success the previous week in reaching the National Cup final, Southend Swifts under 18 girls wanted to make sure there was no hangover in their latest league fixture.  Their opponents were Newham Youngbloods, who had pipped them for a Final Fours place last season.

Southend were determined to establish superiority early  on and with scores from Emily Taylor, Megan jones, Claire Gold and Carlie Abbott, it was 8-2 after three minutes.  Newham had the next score before Swifts had 15 of the final 17 points to lead 23-6 at the end of the first quarter; Amber Evans finding her touch from long range.

After a Grace Livermore basket, Gold had the next 10, including two three-pointers and it was 35-15.  Evans and Jones also had three-pointers and at half time, the margin was 47-20.

The third period was a much more sanguine affair as Southend relaxed their defence.  Indeed they managed just nine points, allowing Youngbloods to narrowly reduce the deficit to 56-32 with the final 10 minutes to play.  But the final quarter would see a bit more urgency as runs of 8, 7 and 9 took the margin to 44 as Swifts recorded an 80-36 win.  Gold with 24 points, Jones 18 and Abbott and Taylor 10 apiece.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

HARLOW HAWKS 66  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94

Southend Swifts under 18 men travelled to Harlow on Sunday, looking to solidify their position in second in their division,

The game started with three three-pointers from the home side, who lead 9-4 after two minutes, before Swifts got themselves more accustomed to the pace of the game.  Scores from Josh Powell, Declan Gould and Jamie Matthews put them ahead at 18-16 and by the end of the quarter the lead was 24-20.

The second quarter was a joy to behold for Swifts, who turned good defensive pressure into transition baskets, many of which were achieved without the ball touching the floor.  Baskets were shared amongst the squad, with Gould helping himself to 10 of his team's 33 points in the quarter, with some stunning athletic finishes.  Swifts led 57-29 at the half.

To begin the third quarter Gould had his side's first six points, and following Matthews' basket, had another five.  Harry Harwood finished the quarter with a pair of three-pointers to give his side a comfortable 76-50 margin.

With the result almost out of doubt, Swifts again shared the ball on offence to further demonstrate their team ethos.  Scott Williams finished his side's scoring with a pair of three-pointers, off assists from Tom Butt, as Swifts took a 94-66 victory.

Gould led the way with 31 points, followed by Matthews with 21 and Harwood and Williams with 13 apiece


30th and 31st January 2016

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 43  EASTSIDE EAGLES LONDON 65

In the first game of a busy weekend of club games, Southend Swifts under 16 boys, currently in 4th place in their conference, met the team one position above in Eastside Eagles London.

A close start saw Thomas Sowoolu taking the scoring load for Southend as they held the early advantage against a very athletic and well-drilled team.  Neither team was able to take a meaningful lead and at the end of the first quarter the visitors held a narrow 16-15 lead.  The second quarter remained equally close, with scoring certainly at a premium; the teams sharing just 18 points between them, with the score at the midway break showing Eagles just 25-24 ahead.

The third quarter, however, would be Swifts undoing.  Poor shot selection allowed Eastside to take rebounds and initiate their fast break and despite good work from Zack Littlejohn and Sowoolu, there was a mountain to climb in the final period as the deficit stood at 36-46.  And so it proved as Southend were unable to make any real inroads to end the contest with a 65-43 loss despite Sowoolu’s 20 points and 13 from Littlejohn.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 57

Southend Swifts under 18 girls looked to retain their play-off position when they welcomed the very in-form London Greenhouse Pioneers to their home court at Seevic College.  The London side are currently in 4th place in the conference and had won their last three games.

Pioneers made the stronger start, leading 7-5 in the 4th minute before a 7-2 run taking Southend 12-9 ahead with captain Megan Jones already with five points.  But an 8-2 spell took the visitors ahead and they held on to lead 19-15 at the end of the first quarter.

The first interval would see a huge change in fortunes.  An Emma Pallett score off a fast break was followed by six points from Zoe Willis and the lead was four.  Pioneers replied before 10 straight for the home side made it 33-21, Claire Gold contributing four; an 18-2 run in seven minutes.  But the visitors were not to be denied and a 10-3 spell made it 36-31 at half time.

Five straight points, including a Jones three-pointer, took the margin back to 10 and after Greenhouse made a pair of foul shots a 13-2 run with seven points from Jones and four from Charlotte Bennett took the score to 54-35 and on the way to a comfortable win.  But again the Londoners showed their resolve and they had nine of the last eleven points to trail just 56-44 with one period remaining.

When Pioneers scored a three point shot on their first offence, it looked like an upset was possible.   Despite scoring the next four points the teams traded baskets and with three minutes remaining, it was just 66-57.  But the defence tightened up, keeping Pioneers scoreless whilst the hosts had the final six points to get a very hard-earned win by 72 points to 57.  Jones with 25 points, Willis 17 and Gold 11 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70  IPSWICH BOBCATS 55

After a run of relatively comfortable victories, Southend Swifts under 14 girls knew they were in for a very stern task when they entertained 2nd in the table Ipswich Bobcats.  Southend went into the game missing defensive specialist Skye Stack.

And so it proved as the visitors scored the first eight points of the contest, much to the delight of their travelling supporters.  But the young Swifts maintained their poise, scoring the next five points as Eleanor Butt and Lilly Annim began to dominate around the basket.  Ipswich replied with a three-point shot before Swifts began to take control.  Despite being closely marked throughout the contest, captain Charlotte Redhead showed remarkable composure for a 13 year old and she had four of the next six points as her team drew level.  Bobcats moved ahead before six straight points for the home side, including a Redhead three-pointer, made it 17-13 at the end of the first quarter.

However the start of the second quarter would see a completely different complexion on proceedings.  Butt began to find space and she had the next seven points and when Regan Boyle made a huge driving lay-up, it was 30-15 after six minutes – a 19-2 run for the hosts.  Poppy Herd and Anna Trett were putting in tremendous performances as they got extended playing time and at the midpoint interval, the lead was 39-22.

As to be expected, Ipswich were in no mood to concede and an 11-6 opening for them made it 45-33 after six minutes of the 3rd period.  They kept the deficit at 12 for the remainder of the quarter as Swifts were steadied by four points apiece from Herd and Redhead with the score at 53-41.

Good foul shooting from Annim extended the margin and when Swifts had seven straight to lead 65-48, the job had been done.  Redhead made another three-pointer as she closed the game out, leading her colleagues to a tough 70-55 victory against a team that must be serious contenders for a Final Four place.  Redhead with 23 points, Butt 21 and Annim 13 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 36

Southend Swifts under 16 girls met London Greenhouse Pioneers, looking to retain their unbeaten record.  The teams had met twice previously, with Southend convincing winners on both occasions.

Despite missing some regular players, Swifts made a convincing start, leading 12-2 after five minutes.  With captain Amelia Wilson setting the tone defensively, Swifts were able to capitalise on turnovers, running in 15 straight points to lead 27-4 at the end of the first quarter

As always, the home side took the opportunity of sharing the workload.  Charlotte Ellmore sat out from the second quarter onwards as Millie Withers and Tonie Abbott showed their continued improvement.  Molley Gould and Cheyenne Deridisi also came to the fore as Swifts led 39-12 at half time.

Both sides had greater success in scoring as Katie Bennett dominated at both ends of the court,  The margin went above 30 with the score showing 62-28 at the end of the third period.  The final quarter was similarly calm as Southend recorded a 76-36 win with Bennett on 28 points.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – NATIONAL CUP SEMI FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73 SEVENOAKS SUNS 70

The biggest club game of the season so far, saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls in National Cup action when they met Sevenoaks Suns in the semi final.  Sevenoaks have been the outstanding girls club programme in recent years having won 13 national championships and in Gabby Nikitinaite, they have the youngest player ever to be selected for the Great Britain women’s squad.

Southend made a disastrous start, conceding the first four baskets, although they finally got onto the scoreboard after four minutes, this looked like being a very uphill struggle.  Sevenoaks looked a step sharper at both ends of the court and after the opening 10 minutes they led 23-13.

But the second quarter would see a change in fortunes for the Essex team.  Zoe Willis and Megan Jones scored early on and when Charlotte Ellmore made a three-pointer, it was 25-20.  Suns replied with five points of their own before Swifts had seven straight to trail just 30-27 as Jones picked up her third foul, sending her back to the bench. The visitors had the next four which Swifts replied to, before seemingly disaster struck.  Making her way to the basket, Willis was struck on the knee forcing her to leave the game.  Suns took immediate advantage to lead 38-34 at half time.

With Jones and Willis remaining on the bench, the margin increased to 11 before five straight from Amber Evans and Ellmore reduced the deficit.  At 47-39, Claire Gold and Emily Taylor both hit huge three-point shots and suddenly it was a two point game again at 47-45.  But Sevenoaks again showed their pedigree with the final six points and going into the final stanza they led 53-45.

With Jones back onto court, she and Gold made three-point shots and it was a two-point game again, with the crowd ecstatic at the quality of play.  But Sevenoaks had an 11-3 spell and at 64-54 with five minutes to play the game looked over.  But Willis, obviously in pain, was able to return to the court and she had four out of eight straight points as Swifts could sense an upset.  Jones, Gold and Charlotte Bennett dominated the rebounds and with Ellmore and Willis working to keep Nikitinaite at bay, this was a battle royal.  Nikitinaite made a pair of foul shots but Gold and Jones made their way to the basket to tie the game at 66.  Nikitinaite again made two shots but Gold had five straight, including her 4th three-pointer of the half, to put Swifts 71-68 ahead going into the final minute.  Yes again Nikitinaite made two foul shots but Willis scored from 15 feet to make it a three-point cushion.

Suns took a time out obviously to design a play for Nikitinaite, but with the whole Swifts team playing outstanding defence she could get no closer than 30 feet away.  Her shot missed and Southend recorded a most outstanding victory by 73 points to 70 with Gold on 18 points, Willis 16, Jones 15 and Ellmore 11.  The final on 20th February can surely be no more exciting that this fine spectacle.         


9th and 10th January 2016

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65  SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 66

The first game of a busy club weekend saw Southend Swifts under 16 boys meet current league leaders Southend Scorpions.

The visitors took the early advantage, leading 11-4 after four minutes.  Thomas Sowoolu was dominating around the basket but Scorpions shooting was much more solid and at the end of the first quarter, they led 21-11.

Swifts looked to be making some inroads into the deficit with a 6-3 run but the intensity was lacking as they found themselves 31-19 down after six minutes of the second period.  The margin actually got as high as 16 at 39-23 before a late score from Jamie Rombaut made it a 14 point game at half time.

Whatever was said in the Swifts locker room at the break obviously had the desired effect.  Led by Zack Littlejohn, Isaac Smith, Alex Skingle and Sowoolu, the deficit began to reduce and after six minutes it was just 46-38.  The hosts certainly held the initiative and six straight points made it 49-44.  A succession of foul shots made it 53-46 going into the final period.

When Scorpions extended the league back up to 10 it looked like game over but scores from Skingle, Littlejohn and Sowoolu brought it back to three.  Scorpions replied but seven straight from the same players took Swifts 64-62 ahead going into the final minute.  Scorpions had a succession of free throws converting four to lead by two.  Swifts, however, had the last offence, leading to two foul shots for them.  Unfortunately only one was successful as they lost a real nail biter 66-65.  Sowoolu with 26 points, Littlejohn 19 and Skingle 11 led the way but it was poor foul shooting that cost them badly.

 

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80  CAMBRIDGE CATS 51

Southend Swifts under 18 Men welcomed Cambridge Cats to Seevic College for their first game of 2016.

Swifts started brightly with a 10-2 run, behind four points apiece for Harry Harwood and Declan Gould and a single basket from Josh Powell.  The visitors responded with the next six points, before the home side finished the quarter with a 14-0 run as Jamie Matthews and Scott Williams found their way onto the scoresheet, benefitting from free-flowing passing moves from their teammates.

The second period was a similar affair as Swifts were able to turn defensive stops into offensive baskets.  Tom Butt demonstrated an aggressive side to his game, battling his way to the basket for scores, including an and-one layup.  Williams and Powell both connected on three-pointers of a more conventional nature, as their team led 45-17 at the half.

Southend had their customary slow start to the second half, managing just five points in the first four minutes, before scoring 17 in the remaining six.  The highlight of the period being a ferocious two-handed dunk from Gould and a banked three-pointer at the end of a shot clock for Butt.

With the result beyond doubt at 67-31 with one period remaining, Swifts' intensity understandably dropped.  Williams connected with a further pair of three-pointers as his side ran out 80-51 winners.

Williams led the way with 17 points, followed by Gould with 16 and Butt and Matthews with 14 apiece.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

READING ROCKETS ACADEMY 48  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 104

For the second week running, it was a trip along the M4 for Southend Swifts under 18 girls.  After a convincing win in Cardiff seven days earlier, this time it was the closer destination of Reading Rockets Academy team.

Despite missing a number of regular players, Southend opened an 11-2 lead after three minutes with Claire Gold contributing eight.  After Reading had five of the next seven points, unanswered runs of eight and ten gave Swifts a dominant 36-14 first quarter lead.

The second period was a little less intense as the visitors changed players with regularity.  Seven straight points for Emily Taylor took Swifts over the 50 point mark and a three-pointer from 13 year old Charlotte Redhead helped her team to a 59-27 half time lead: Gold with 26 points in 14 minutes of play.

Two baskets for Taylor started the second half but with younger players getting valuable court time after the Christmas break, the scoring rate reduced.  Rhian Simpson had four in a row and a three-pointer from Taylor made it 78-40 going into the final quarter.

But a surge of energy gave Southend a bit more impetus.  The vastly improved Grace Livermore and Kacey Realf made major contributions at both ends of the court as Redhead controlled the tempo.  Grace Crook and Carlie Abbott completed the task when all of the players got onto the scoresheet that saw Southend record a surprisingly comfortable 104-48 victory led by Gold with 30 points and Taylor 26.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 101  BRENTWOOD FIRE 42

After a three week break, Southend Swifts under 14 girls stepped back onto their home court at Seevic College looking to maintain their unbeaten record.  Their opponents, Brentwood Fire, had played the previous day so it would be interesting to see the relative cohesion of the two teams.

After taking a 9-4 lead, Southend seemed to relax allowing Brentwood to come back into the game.  They made a 9-5 run to trail by just one before scores from Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt made it 18-15 at the end of the opening period.

But the second quarter saw Swifts show their usual pedigree.  Captain Charlotte Redhead began to find her teammates with pinpoint passes as her team had 11 straight.  Butt was scoring at will and with Anna Trett and Regan Boyle producing both offensively and defensively, the scoring rate remained high.  From 42-22, the hosts had the final 15 points ending with a three-pointer from Redhead that made it 57-22 at half time.

With Butt scoring 10 of the first 12 points the margin went over 40.  Anabelle Yates-Ringshall, Molly Sims and Sophie Medland all showed their improvement as got valuable playing minutes that will be needed later in the season.  Annim and Skye Stack kept the scoreboard turning and at the end of the third quarter, it was 76-30.

With year 7s Joyce Jacobs and debutante Mia Nicholls getting onto court, the home side had the first 17 points of the final 10 minutes with Jacobs scoring four,  Consecutive three-pointers for Redhead got her team into triple figures as Swifts recorded the win with the slightly flattering margin of 101-42.  Butt with 44, Redhead 23 and Annim 16 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 95  OAKLANDS COLLEGE WOLVES 46

Southend Swifts under 16 girls welcomed Oaklands College Wolves to Seevic College for their first game after the holiday break.  The home side certainly expected a very tough battle against the team currently in 4th place in the division and with a considerable number of players in England squads.  Southend welcomed Charlotte Ellmore back into their line-up after injury.

But whatever was expected on paper was entirely different to what happened on court.  After two minutes it was 8-0 and 12-4 after six as Georgia Powell wreaked havoc.  The introduction of Katie Bennett and Tia Stack increased the pressure and with Ellmore totally dominating her opponent, Swifts had 14 in a row to lead by a remarkable 26-4 at the end of the first quarter.

There was no letting up in the second period.  From 30-6, there was a 14-2 run as Tonie Abbott, Chelsea Locke, Millie Withers and Rhian Simpson all made major contributions out of the defensive pressure, as Swifts rested their starters. Oaklands responded with five points but two baskets from Bennett, the second an outrageous reverse lay-up, made it 48-13 at half time.

The intensity remained as baskets from Stack, Amelia Wilson and Simpson took the margin to 54-15.  Wolves replied with a 10-5 spell of their own, which only seemed to inspire Swifts.  With Ellmore again the provider-in-chief, there were 15 straight points as Shannon Brook also got into the action.  A late three-pointer for the visitors making it 76-30 with one stanza to play.

Understandably, the intensity dropped with the game over.  But a three-pointer from Powell and four points apiece for Bennett and Grace Crook made it 89-38.  Oaklands had six of the last eight scored but this was a superb team performance from Swifts as they recorded a 95-46 win to keep their record intact.  Bennett, Powell and Stack all with 19 points and Ellmore 13 leading an exceptionally balanced squad display.


12TH DECEMBER AND 13TH DECEMBER

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP QUARTER FINAL

NOTTINGHAM WILDCATS 61  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60

A visit to one of the most renowned womens clubs in the country was the task for Southend Swifts under 16 girls when they made the 300 mile round trip to take on Nottingham Wildcats.  Nottingham’s women are currently unbeaten in the senior National League and with their under 16s currently on a six game winning stretch, this was sure to be the toughest encounter for Southend so far this season.

There was nothing in it early on with the scores tied at 4 as Grace Crook showed her offensive prowess for Swifts.  Wildcats were forced into a zone defence that they remained in for the remainder of the game, but this brought quick rewards as a 7-1 run took them 11-5 ahead.  Baskets from Tia Stack, Georgia Powell and Charlotte Ellmore reduced the deficit before a 5-2 spell gave Nottingham a 17-13 first quarter lead.

Despite not shooting at their best, Southend turned up their defensive intensity, restricting the hosts to just one basket in the first six minutes of the second period.  A three-point play from Katie Bennett and further scores from Powell and Ellmore took Swifts ahead but now they would hit a drought as Nottingham had 10 of the next 12 to lead 29-23 at half time.

Still Southend struggled against the zone, allowing Nottingham to make a 9-2 break that took them 38-25 ahead after four minutes and seemingly on the way to a comfortable victory.  But the Essex ladies had other ideas.  Two baskets for Bennett and one for Rhian Simpson gave them six straight, Wildcats replied with the next five before a three-pointer from Powell helped her team back to 45-36 down at the end of the third quarter; still a nine point deficit.

After the teams traded the first scores, Southend began the comeback.   A Stack three-pointer was followed by one for Powell and when Bennett scored close in, the game was tied at 47 apiece.  The home side made an old-fashioned three-point play before Powell again scored from distance to even things up.  Nottingham again took the lead but an Ellmore basket and a Bennett foul shot gave Swifts a one point advantage.  Wildcats’ excellent Rhiannon Watkins made another three-point play only for Powell to hit another three-pointer followed by a long two, and Swifts led 58-55 with less than three minutes to play.

But then disaster struck for the visitors.  Ellmore fell awkwardly and was inadvertently landed on by a Nottingham defender.  After a lengthy delay, the England point guard, so influential this season, was carried from the court in tears; her time on court ended for the day.  Wildcats took advantage with a three and a foul shot and going into the final minute they led by one.  Swifts took a time-out and from the resulting play, Bennett got to the basket to score and get fouled.  The resulting foul shot was missed giving possession back to Wildcats and with 21 seconds to play Maya Hyacienth made the lay-up.  Southend had the ball but a pass went astray and the ball went to the home side with two seconds to play.  Swifts actually got the steal but couldn’t get the last shot away giving Nottingham a 61-60 win in a match worthy of a final.  Powell with 19 points and Bennett and Ellmore 14 apiece had led their team to a magnificent performance that had everything other than the right result.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65  ESSEX BLADES 48

Southend Swifts under 16 boys looked to build on their very promising start to the season when they welcomed Essex Blades to their home court at Seevic College.  Southend had two wins from their opening five games, whilst Blades had one victory from the same number of contests.

Swifts made a strong start with Thomas Sowoolu contributing four points in an early 8-2 lead.  When the captain had the next four, it was 13-6 after five minutes before the visitors hit back with a 7-2 run that saw them trail just 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.

However the second period would see a far more positive performance from the home side.  Led by Zack Littlejohn, they scored the first 14 points to open the first meaningful margin.  Despite making two three-pointers, Blades managed just seven points in the stanza as Swifts accumulated 25, on their way to a 40-20 half time lead; Littlejohn contributing 13 points   

Obviously some elements of complacency set in as an 11-2 run midway through the third quarter brought the deficit back to 47-35 and when Blades had the final five points, it was just 47-40 going into the final quarter.

The first four minutes were little better, as an 8-2 run meant Southend had the narrowest of leads at 51-48.  Perhaps it was the realisation that this was a game they could actually lose because Swifts then proceeded to keep their opponents scoreless for the final six minutes, whilst scoring 14 themselves that gave them the win by what ended a slightly flattering scoreline of 65-48.  Sowoolu with 25 points and Littlejohn 15 the leading scorers.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70  ESSEX BLADES 45

Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed Essex Junior Blades to Seevic College on Saturday, for their final game of the calendar year.  Blades are part of the heavily-funded Essex University organisation so a tough encounter was expected.

From a 2-1 start, the home side rattled off a 21-4 run to end the quarter emphatically in the lead as they shared the ball excellently both in their half court offence as well as in transition.  There was a very good points spread with Harry Harwood, Jamie Matthews, Josh Powell, Scott Williams, Tom Butt and Tom Sowoolu all featuring

The second quarter was a much more balanced affair as Swifts looked to get minutes for all their players.  Blades were able to connect on five three-pointers in the period, to narrow the deficit to 41-26 at the half.

Southend, however, would get back to their fluid best in the third quarter, stepping up their defensive intensity and moving the ball well for easy baskets.  They recorded a huge 23-3 quarter as the same players all again found their way onto the scoresheet.

With the result beyond doubt, Swifts became sloppy in the final quarter, managing just six points whilst allowing their visitors to score 17 to bring the game to a close 70-45 conclusion in favour of the hosts.

Powell led the way for Swifts with 19, followed by Williams with 16 and Harwood with 11.


5TH DECEMBER AND 6TH DECEMBER

UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP QUARTER FINAL

WEST HERTS WARRIORS 43  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 95

Southend Swifts under 18 girls made the trip north around the M25 to take on West Herts Warriors in the quarter final of the National Cup.  The Hertfordshire team were National Champions at this age level in 2013 and on their home court were sure to be a force to be reckoned with.  Southend went into the tie missing Amber Evans and Zoe Willis.

A Megan Jones foul shot opened the scoring and five points from Claire Gold helped her team to an 8-0 lead.  Warriors managed one foul shot of their own before Swifts produced a devastating spell.  They amassed 19 unanswered points to lead 27-1 after six minutes leaving both sets of supporters rubbing their eyes in disbelief; Jones and Gold with three-pointers and Charlotte Ellmore contributing six and Charlotte Bennett getting back into game rhythm with four.  Ellmore again and a pair of Jones foul shots making it 30-6 at the first break.

Three more Jones foul shots and an Ellmore score got the scoring under way and when Emily Taylor got onto the end of another fast break, it was 43-10 midway through the second quarter.  The hosts had their best spell with the next six but Southend replied with nine straight and at half time it was 52-18.

But there would be no chance of complacency.  A 14-2 run, with 8 from Taylor, settled the tie and a three-pointer from Carlie Abbott and Kacey Realf dominating rebounds it was 75-29 going into the final quarter.

Unsurprisingly the intensity dropped, allowing West Herts to make a 12-2 run to make it 81-41.  But normal service was resumed as Swifts closed out with a 14-2 spell that put them into the National Cup semi final with a 95-43 victory.  A very balanced score line saw Gold with 28 points, Jones 21, Taylor 18 and Ellmore 17.

 

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

EAST HERTS ROYAL 50 SOUTHEND SWIFTS 91

Southend Swifts under 18 Men made the journey to Stevenage to face East Herts Royals.

The match began at a canter, with the visitors taking a 5-1 lead after three minutes.  From this Swifts turned up their defensive intensity and converted their transition opportunities to go on a 27-4 run, behind 10 points for Declan Gould, to lead 32-5 at the end of the first period.

The second quarter was a much more even affair as Royals composed themselves on both ends of the floor to limit the freedom that was enjoyed by their guests in the opening period.  Swifts however were able to share the ball on offence as Josh Powell, Jamie Matthews, Scott Williams, Harry Harwood and Gould all found their way onto the scoresheet.  The score at the half standing at 51-20 in favour of Swifts.

15-year-old Zack Littlejohn began to stamp his mark on the game at the opening of the second half, scoring his team’s first five points.  The visitors then turned up their defensive pressure to limit Royals to just 11 points for the quarter, whilst notching 23 for themselves behind scores for Harwood, Matthews and a pair of three-pointers for Williams.

The final quarter was much of a dead rubber as the intensity had left the game.  Royals would actually take the period 19-17 as Swifts continued to rotate personnel.  The highlight of the period being another pair of three-pointers for Williams.  The final score being 91-50 in favour of Swifts.

Williams led the way with 20 points, followed by Matthews and Harwood with 17 points apiece and Gould with 16.

 

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 92  OAKLANDS COLLEGE WOLVES 20

A match between an unbeaten team and one still seeking their first win does not augur well as a contest.  But the one-sided affair between Southend Swifts under 14 girls and Oaklands College Wolves failed to provide either team with anything meaningful in the way of game play.

It was 25-1 after 6 minutes and 35-5 after the first quarter, by which time Southend were already changing players with regularity having virtually stopped defending.  Swifts captain Charlotte Redhead took the day off from trying to score, Eleanor Butt and Lilly Annim didn’t play together and the players who instinctively steal the ball stopped doing so.  The younger members were able to continue their improvement and the two year 4s, Emily Fessey Cook and Stevie Roberts, both played 14 minutes, including the whole of the final quarter.

A half time score of 52-9 ended at just 92-20 because Swifts never had any intention of running up the cricket score that would have been possible.  Oaklands certainly battled valiantly, never letting their heads drop, but this was a very difficult assignment for them.   If points difference decides league positions at the end of the season this may have actually hurt the victors, but sport has to be much more than that.    

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 61  IPSWICH BOBCATS 42

Southend Swifts under 16 girls faced a tough task on their home court at Seevic College when they met Ipswich Bobcats, the only other undefeated team in the new Premier League.  Due to uncertainty with the staging of the game, Southend were below full strength, with three members of their under 14 team in action.

Defences were to the fore as Swifts made the stronger start, leading 8-2 after six minutes.  But the visitors found their touch and they had the final seven points of the quarter, including a three-pointer from half way on the buzzer, to lead 13-11.

Baskets remained at a premium in the second period.  Southend were creating scoring opportunities but shots wouldn’t drop and after six minutes, it was 20 all.  The visitors managed four points before a score from Shannon Brook made it a two point game at half time.

But whatever was said during the interval had the desired effect for Swifts.  After the teams traded baskets, Swifts had six straight to lead by four.  Ipswich managed a reply before came the crucial passage of the game.  The home side had 13 unanswered points as Katie Bennett and Charlotte Ellmore got to work.  With 13 year old Lilly Annim taking rebounds against older and more experienced opponents and Georgia Powell and Tia Stack working tirelessly in defence, the lead was 45-32 going into the final quarter; a 23-8 turnaround.

After Ipswich had the first four points, Swifts again turned on the style with 16 points in a row, with Bennett, Powell and Ellmore continuing to share the spoils, as the lead stretched to an improbable 61-36.  The Suffolk side had the final six points as Swifts unsurprisingly relaxed but this was an outstanding win against very good opponents.  Ellmore with 29 points, Bennett 18 and Powell 12 took the scoring accolades but this was a very fine team performance.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 99  KINGSTON LADY WILDCATS 26

The final game of the weekend saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls in action for the second day running with a home league fixture, this time against Kingston Lady Wildcats.  The teams had met earlier in the season, when Southend had recorded a hard earned win in the National Cup.

But this time, Swifts were determined to avoid any potential slip-ups.  Zoe Willis, Claire Gold and Megan Jones had early scores as the home side took a 12-2 lead after five minutes.  Kingston battled to keep the deficit in check but five late points gave Southend a 24-9 first quarter advantage.

Four points from Amber Evans and a Jones three-pointer got the second period underway and with Charlotte Bennett continuing to ease her way back, Swifts ended the quarter with a 16-2 run that put them 47-12 ahead at the mid-point break.

Constant changes of personnel had little effect as the scoring continued.  Emily Taylor and Charlotte Ellmore found the basket and with Gold and Willis adding to their points tally, it was 76-22 with one stanza to play.  Carlie Abbott, Kacey Realf and Grace Livermore took advantage of extended playing time and with 21 unanswered points, Swifts scored a resounding 99-26 win.  Willis with 26 points and Gold 21 leading a performance where every player scored.


29th NOVEMBER AND 30th NOVEMBER

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

HOUNSLOW HAWKS 47  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

For their latest league outing, Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled west to take on Hounslow Hawks, who currently sit in 3rd place in the table with four wins from six games.  The last time these two teams met was in the Final Fours in 2014, when Southend squeezed through in overtime.

On a slippery playing surface, Hounslow made much the better start scoring the first eight points of the contest.  Scores from Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell got Swifts side of the scoreboard moving but Hawks’ very skilful Bethany Mann was causing difficulties and her seven points in the opening quarter helped her team to a 15-13 lead.

A 7-2 run gave the visitors their first lead, with all the points coming from the foul line, and when Powell converted three more attempts, it was 25-19 and Swifts seemingly in control. But Mann again put her team on her back and she had six late points that gave Hounslow a narrow 28-27 lead at half time.

However, whatever was said during the half time interval had the desired effect.  Katie Bennett became energised at both ends of the court scoring all of her teams 11 points in the opening four minutes as Swifts led 38-30.  A three-pointer from Ellmore and an old fashioned three-point play from Tia Stack increased the margin to 46-32.  The hosts replied with the next four, but five more from Ellmore and two for Bennett made it 53-36 going into the final period.

An 8-3 spell put the game beyond doubt and with Jodie Tobaiwa, Millie Withers and Rhian Simpson on the scoresheet and Powell finding her shooting touch it was a fine 71-47 win against a very well-organised team that will surely be vying for a play-off position.  Bennett with 18 points, Ellmore 17 and Powell 16 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62  BARNET BULLDOGS 79

Southend Swifts under 16 boys entertained Barnet Bulldogs in their latest league encounter.  Southend, largely made up of under 15 players, have made an excellent start to the season, with two wins from four games.  Barnet are currently unbeaten.

The visitors made the better start, taking a 6-3 lead, but Swifts hit back with Zack Littlejohn and Tom Sowoolu finding their scoring form.  Six unanswered points in the last minute, giving the home side an 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Four points for Sowoolu and two for Lucas Hilsum took the margin to nine but Bulldogs hit back with an 8-2 spell and it was 26-23 midway through the second period.  In an excellent contest, the teams continued to trade baskets, with Swifts holding a 36-32 half time lead.

Still neither side could get clear.  Sowoolu and Littlejohn kept the home side ahead and when Issac Smith contributed four, it was 49-44 after six minutes, leading to a 58-52 lead with one period remaining.

But the speed and athleticism of the Barnet team took over.  They scored the first 14 points as Swifts were kept scoreless for six minutes.  Smith broke the deadlock, but the momentum was firmly in favour of Bulldogs as they had the last eight points to finish worthy winners by perhaps a slightly flattering scoreline of 79 points to 62.  Sowoolu with 22 points and Littlejohn 20 leading an outstanding team performance from such young players.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 89  WANDSWORTH WOLVES 29

After a disappointing defeat the previous week, Southend Swifts under 18 girls looked to get back onto winning ways with the visit of Wandsworth Wolves, a new team to the league.  The South London team came into the game with two wins from six games.

The early exchanges were very even as Wandsworth’s quick guards showed their skills; Southend leading just 10-7 after five minutes.  But the remainder of the first quarter would see Swifts stamp their authority on proceedings with 13 unanswered points to lead 23-7 at the first break; captain Megan Jones with seven in the run.

When Claire Gold and Emily Taylor shared the next nine points, it was 22 points in a row and the job for the day done.  Wandsworth finally broke their drought but another Jones three-pointer and a Grace Livermore basket made it 43-15 at half time.

A 10-2 run took the lead to 53-17 as all the home players got court time.  Charlotte Ellmore orchestrated matters and when Jones again scored from long range, the margin went above 40; the score with one stanza remaining showing 65-23.

Another 12 point run, with four from the vastly improved Kacey Realf made it 77-25.  The valiant Wolves had the next four but Southend finished with a flourish ending a contest that was much more hard fought than the score would indicate at 89-29.  Again, a very well-balanced split between the players with Gold on 19 points, Taylor 18 and Ellmore and Jones 15 apiece.


22nd NOVEMBER AND 23rd NOVEMBER

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

PECKHAM PRIDE 70  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 55

The first meeting of the season between the two unbeaten teams in the girls under 18 south division promised much as an under strength Southend Swifts visited Peckham Pride in a cold sports hall in South London.

Southend made an excellent start, taking a 7-1 lead in the 3rd minute before Peckham hit back with a 14-4 run to lead by four.  Some sharp officiating was leading to foul trouble for Swifts although a late three-pointer from Emily Taylor reduced the deficit to just 22-16 at the end of the first quarter.

A second three-pointer of the game for Megan Jones capped a 7-2 that made it a one point game but the hosts hit back with the next six as their zone defence brought quick rewards.  A three-pointer from Claire Gold gave some hope and a basket on the buzzer from Charlotte Bennett saw the score at 40-34 at half time.

With Swifts concerned with foul trouble, they were forced into a much more passive defence.  This, in turn, restricted their offence with only Zoe Willis able to get to the basket, Gold managed to get her way through the packed Pride defence and another Taylor long-range effort kept her team within range at 58-47 with one period remaining.

There were just 20 points in total scored in the final 10 minutes as Swifts sought to keep their four players on four fouls in the game.  A loss by 15 points to a very good team was an excellent performance with Taylor having her best display for the club.  Willis with 16 points, Gold 14 and Taylor 12 leading the scoring.


15th NOVEMBER AND 16th NOVEMBER

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 96  NORTHAMPTONSHIRE TITANS 67

A busy day of basketball at Seevic College saw all three Southend Swifts girls teams in action.  First up were the under 14s, welcoming Northamptonshire Titans, who have made great strides this season and entered the game with four wins from five games.

It was the visitors who made the brighter start, opening a 10-7 lead after four minutes, as Southend failed to take early chances.  But nine straight points, with five from Eleanor Butt, gave the hosts the initiative.  Titans had the next score but a three-pointer from captain Charlotte Redhead started a 7-0 run that took Swifts’ lead to nine at 23-14 before the visitors had the final four to trail just 23-18 at the end of the first quarter.

An old-fashioned three point play from Butt and a 15 foot shot from Poppy Herd took the lead to double digits but the very well organised Northampton side hit back and in the third minute the margin was just six at 30-24. Again, another Redhead three-pointer gave the momentum back to Swifts and with Lilly Annim dominating rebounds at both ends of the court, the lead moved back to 39-28.  The teams continued to trade baskets before Redhead was fouled in the final second, and she calmly made all three foul shots to give her team a 49-35 half time advantage.

Titans again showed huge resolve, scoring six of the first nine points, before the passage of play that effectively settled the game.  Two further three-pointers from Redhead and 10 points from Butt were part of a 20-7 spell that finally enabled Southend to break clear at 72-48 and with five late points from Redhead it was 77-49 going into the final period.

With Butt and Skye Stack continuing to find the basket, it was time for the younger members to get valuable playing time, much to the delight of the sizeable crowd.  Unsurprisingly the scoring rate dropped as Swifts ran out winners 96-67 against a very good team that is likely to be at the very top of the competitive East Midlands division.  Butt continued her outstanding scoring spell with 37 points, Redhead had 32 with five three-pointers and Annim 10 points and 16 rebounds.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 117  CARDIFF MET ARCHERS 25

So after the excitement of the under 14 game, it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 18 girls to seek to maintain their unbeaten record.  Their opponents were Cardiff Met Archers had made the long journey from Wales and are the current Welsh champions.  Southend had Charlotte Bennett making her first appearance of the season and were still nursing Megan Jones back, both players having been under the doctor’s knife.

From two points apiece, Southend got into gear.  They scored eight straight and although Archers had the next four points, Swifts’ 12-0 run made it 22-6 after six minutes; Claire Gold, Emily Taylor and Carlie Abbott being particularly effective.  When Charlotte Ellmore had six straight points, it started another unbroken spell that made it 36-8 at the end of the first quarter with Jones and Bennett already on the scoresheet.

Despite constant changes of personnel, the scoring rate failed to subside, as Swifts had the first 28 points of the second period on their way to a 68-15 half time lead; Bennett contributing eight.

But despite the best of endeavours of the Welsh side, the Essex side continued their fine form with contributions from all players on their way to a 117-25 win.  Gold with 26 points, Bennett 17, Jones 16, Taylor 11 and Abbott 10 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94  WEST HERTS WARRIORS 41

The final game of the day saw Southend Swifts under 16 girls entertain West Herts Warriors.  The Warriors have had a tough start to the season with one win from five games played.

But an upset looked possible as they took an early 6-4 lead much to the delight of their section of the crowd.  But this just seemed to spur on Swifts who, over the remaining six minutes of the quarter, ran in 29 unanswered points with another stunning display of speed and intensity.  Grace Crook continued her vast improvement and with Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell again making major contributions, the game was effectively settled in the opening 10 minutes.

The home side were able to change players at will as the depth of talent in the squad shone through.  Whilst this meant a decrease in the scoring rate, it does allow the whole team to become used to the playing system that is likely to be needed throughout the long season.  From 51-19 at half time, it became 72-35 at the end of the third quarter, with all Swifts players having scored.

The final stanza was largely one-way traffic with Katie Bennett getting the opportunity to contribute eight as her team ran out comfortable winners by 94 points to 41.  Ellmore continued her sublime early season form with 35 points in 25 minutes, Crook with 16 and Powell 14.      


8th NOVEMBER AND 9th NOVEMBER 2015

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

WEST HERTS WARRIORS 60   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 83

A visit to Hertfordshire, against the only other unbeaten team in the division, presented Southend Swifts under 14 girls team with their latest challenge. The home town Warriors have been in excellent form, so this promised to be a difficult match-up.

There was nothing in it early on, with Warriors holding a slender 7-6 lead after four minutes before good foul shooting from Eleanor Butt and Lilly Annim took Southend 12-9 ahead.  The hosts tied the game up before made an 8-3 run to lead 22-15 at the end of the first quarter.

The Herts defensive formation was causing difficulties both for Swifts and the match official but a 13-5 spell took the lead into double digits; Anna Trett and Charlotte Redhead with four apiece.  Butt was starting to find gaps in the Warriors defence and she had four of the last six as the visitors led 47-30 at half time.

A 13-2 run over the first three minutes of the third period took much of the pressure off and Swifts were able to change personnel with regularity, giving the less experienced players valuable court time.  The scoring rate continued and with one quarter remaining, it was 71-41.

The final 10 minutes was much more subdued and although Warriors had some consolation baskets, there was really no way back as Swifts recorded a very good 83-60 win.  Butt with 32 points, Annim 20 and Redhead 18 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 81  HARLOW HAWKS 38

Southend Swifts under 18 Men welcomed Harlow Hawks to Seevic College on Saturday as they looked to build on a solid start to the season.

Swifts got out to a 6-2 lead with scores from Jamie Matthews and Josh Powell, but found themselves trailing 9-8 before adjusting to the tempo of the game.  Declan Gould found his way to the basket for a score and then Powell and Matthews chipped in with further points to take a 16-9 lead.  The home side then lost their composure and switched off towards the end of the quarter to allow Hawks to build a 21-20 lead.

Swifts rattled off the first six points of the second period behind a three-pointer for Scott Williams and three points for Paul Jeboda.  Hawks would have the next basket, before Swifts went on a 14-0 run with balanced scoring through Powell, Tom Butt, Gould, Jeboda, Williams and two baskets for Connor Walton.  The lead was 40-26 at the half.

The hosts again started brightly with a 10-1 run that gave them a lead at 50-27, but were unable to extend this; finishing the quarter with a lead of 52-33.  The final period was a very one-sided affair as Swifts took advantage of transition opportunities to tally 29 points to their visitors' five.  Harry Harwood, Dan Davies and Tyler Barlow all finding their way onto the scoresheet to ensure that each member of the squad scored, giving their side a comfortable 81-38 win.

Powell led the way with 16 points, followed by Walton with 12 and Matthews and Williams with 10 apiece.


UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP SECOND ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 120  READING ROCKETS ADADEMY 41

Despite a comfortable victory when the teams met earlier in the season, Southend Swifts under 18 girls expected a difficult encounter when welcomed Reading Rockets Academy to Seevic College for a second round cup match.  The visitors, part of one of the strongest clubs in the country, had a number of different players in their line-up whilst Southend were missing a number of players.  They did have captain Megan Jones back after an appendix operation.

But Swifts were determined to put their stamp on proceedings.  They scored the first 12 points of the contest in the opening three minutes, with Clare Gold and Amber Evans sharing ten.  Rockets replied with the next four before Southend made an incredible 31-7 run to lead 43-11 at the end of the first quarter; Carlie Abbott, Charlotte Ellmore and Emily Taylor being particularly productive.

Another Evans three-pointer started the second period and with Abbott and Ellmore scoring at will, the points total continued to climb.  Jones finally came into the game with three minutes of the first half remaining and scored with her first shot as her team ended the half with a 77-25 lead; a tally most other teams fail to match in an entire game.

The remainder of the game was played in a much less intense atmosphere.  The 100 mark was reached in the third quarter and the final scoreline of 120-41 gave an indication of Swifts capabilities.  As always, a number of players featured in the scoring ranks; Gold with 31, Ellmore 24, Taylor 19, Abbott 18 and Evans 14.  

UNDER 18 BOYS NATIONAL CUP SECOND ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 58  IPSWICH 82

Basketball is unlike most other sports, in that upsets are a rarity.  So when Southend Swifts Under 18 Men were drawn against Premier side Ipswich in the cup, they were always going to be the underdogs.  When they began the game without three starters, including England international Paul Jeboda, they knew their task would be a mammoth one.  These thoughts were justified ones in the opening quarter where Swifts struggled to find any semblance of composure, gifting their visitors numerous fast break opportunities which they converted to lead 23-10 after one period.

The second quarter was much the same for the hosts, as they struggled to retain the ball on offence and stop Ipswich on defence.  At the half they were left facing a 41-18 deficit.

However, Swifts showed some integrity and fortitude in the third quarter, taking on board the half time discussions to take care of the ball.  They were able to string together plays that resulted in good opportunities to score and shared their points across a number of players, with Scott Williams' shooting a particular high point.  With one quarter remaining they trailed 66-33.

The final quarter would see an exceptional shooting performance from the Swifts team as they made five three-pointers, with three coming from Williams and one apiece for Josh Powell and 15-year-old Zac Littlejohn.  Swifts would win the quarter 25-16 on their way to an 82-58 defeat; but it is the character and resolve that they showed in the latter stages which are not evident on the scoresheet that they will take forward for the rest of the season.

Williams led the way with 23 points, followed by Littlejohn with 10 and Powell and Harry Harwood with 9 points each.

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP SECOND ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 111  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 44

So after the two under 18 cup games, it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 16 girls to see if they could reach the quarter finals of the cup when they met London Greenhouse Pioneers.  The two teams had met earlier in the season, with Southend recording a 47 point win, but there was no room for complacency against a very athletic team.

Swifts made a very positive start, leading 13-5 after three minutes, with Grace Crook in excellent form.   But the remainder of the quarter would see some scintillating basketball as Georgia Powell, Charlotte Ellmore and Crook led the charge to a 30-10 lead.  The second period saw changes of personnel with Tia Stack, Katie Bennett and Shannon Brook adding to the tally.  Eight unanswered points took the lead to 30 and although Pioneers continued to battle, it was 50-22 at half time.

A surprisingly lacklustre start saw Southend fail to score for four minutes, although Greenhouse could manage just four points themselves.  But in the next three minutes, Swifts would make a 20-4 run that took the game out of sight at 70-30.  The introduction of two under 14 players, Lilly Annim and Charlotte Redhead had little effect on the flow and both scored points as they led 79-36 going into the final stanza.

The final 10 minutes allowed all Swifts players get onto the scoresheet.  Tonie Abbott and Molley Gould continued their improvement and with captain Amelia Wilson scoring the last basket from three-point land, it was a surprisingly comfortable win by 111 points to 44.  Crook with 20 points, Ellmore 19, Stack 18 and Powell 12 leading the scoring.


31st OCTOBER AND 1ST NOVEMBER 2015

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

MILTON KEYNES TROJANS 61  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 67

Southend Swifts under 18 men made the long journey to Milton Keynes on Saturday, hoping to continue their cup form rather than their league one.

Swifts opened up an 8-0 lead after three minutes as Josh Powell, Dan Davies and Jamie Matthews all made their way onto the scoresheet following some good transition play.  However, the home side replied with an 11-0 run, including two three pointers to take the lead.  Swifts regained their composure and four points apiece for Declan Gould and Powell and a basket from Matthews gave them what should have been a comfortable lead at 18-11.  However, the hosts were not to be denied and levelled the contest at 18-18 at the end of the first.

Powell got the second quarter underway with a basket, followed by an and-one for Gould. Swifts pushed their lead to 30-22, but again could not take a firm hold on the game, as they led by just three at half-time 32-29.

Trojans opened the second half with greater impetus, taking the lead at 33-32 before Harry Harwood made a much needed three-pointer.  The two sides then traded baskets to a score of 44-44, before the hosts finished the quarter with a 47-44 lead.

This lead was then extended to 53-45 and it appeared that Swifts' early hard work and smart play of the first half would be long forgotten.  However, they showed the sort of resolve and fighting spirit that has at times over the years been lacking.  Seizing opportunities to move the ball quickly on offence and taking incisive routes to the basket, Swifts found themselves back in front at 60-56 as Scott Williams, Dan Davies, Tom Butt, Gould and Matthews all scored. Trojans rallied to narrow the deficit to 61-60, but Swifts took control of the closing minutes to finish with a hard earned 67-61 victory.

Powell led the way with 16 points, followed by Matthews with 12 and Gould on 11.


UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

EASTSIDE EAGLES 83  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 52

Despite two convincing wins in their opening fixtures, Southend Swifts under 16 boys knew they were in for a much sterner task when they ventured to East London to take on the highly-rated Eastside Eagles.

Four points from Thomas Sowoolu kept the scores level before Eastside hit 11 straight to go 15-4 ahead after five minutes.  Southend hit back with the next six points before the home side exerted their authority to lead 26-14 at the end of the first quarter.  The second period saw defences to the fore with the teams managing just 20 points between them.  Again, Eagles had the better of the spoils, holding a 39-21 advantage at half time.

The third quarter would see a far better effort from Swifts.  Jordan Sullens and Zack Littlejohn began to find space around the basket and six points from Sowoolu were part of a 12-0 spell that reduced the deficit to just 12 at 54-42 before Eastside had the last three to go into the final 10 minutes with a 15 point lead.

Another Sowoolu score gave hope of an upset but the excellently drilled home side took complete control.  From 68-50, they reeled off the next 15 points on their way to a well-deserved win by the slightly flattering margin of 83-52.  For Swifts Sowoolu on 22 points and Littlejohn 12 were the leading scorers.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 105  NORTHANTS LIGHTNING 31

After the excitement of their away victory the previous week, Southend Swifts under 14 girls returned to their home court at Seevic College for their latest fixture.  Their opponents were Northants Lightning, who have two wins from four games, whilst Southend were unbeaten in their three matches to date.

An uncharacteristically slow start saw Swifts trail 4-3 in the second minute before the young ladies began to show their normal prowess.     They reeled off the next 19 points as tenacious defence was turned into very rapid attack; Poppy Herd in particularly fine form.  Northants finally broke the run but another 9-4 run made it 31-10 at the end of the first quarter; Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt sharing 22 of the points.

Despite constant changes of personnel, the scoring rate did not diminish as 16 straight points in three minutes took the game out of sight.  Skye Stack led the offence with great control and with Molly Sims showing her considerable improvement, the margin continued to increase.  Joyce Jacobs scored her first club basket and even the introduction of year 4s Emily Fessey Cook and Stevie Roberts barely stemmed the progress.  Eight points from Herd were part of a 13-4 run that gave Swifts a 65-18 half time lead.

Although there was considerably less intensity, Swifts continued to advance their score.  Anna Trett took over the ball-handling duties enabling captain Charlotte Redhead to play a much more subdued role after her recent heroics.  Redhead hit a three-pointer as part of 24 unanswered points in five minutes which also saw Anabelle Yates-Ringshall on the scoresheet.  Butt was scoring at will as the home side led 93-24 going into the last quarter.

It was just a question of whether the two little ones could register a basket.  To the disappointment of the large crowd, neither could achieve it on this day, but there will be many more opportunities in the future.  A final score of 105-31 was a further testimony to the all round abilities of the squad.  Butt led the scoring with a career high 45 points, Redhead a calm 19, Annim 13 and Herd 11.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77  SURREY GOLDHAWKS 52

So the final club game of the weekend was for Southend Swifts under 16 girls to seek to maintain their unbeaten record.  They met Surrey Goldhawks, a relatively newly formed club, who have already made their mark at junior level and with a number of players in England squads, this looked to be a difficult assignment.

Southend made a fast start with Georgia Powell again leading the scoring with the first six points and a long two from captain Amelia Wilson made it 8-1 in the third minute.  Surrey got back to 10-7 but five points from Tia Stack and three from Charlotte Ellmore took the hosts to a 20-11 first quarter lead.

Scores from Katie Bennett and Rhian Simpson were part of a 7-2 run that took the lead to 14.  Swifts strength in depth allowed them to rest players and maintain their defensive pressure.  Bennett, Powell and Grace Crook were all able to find the basket as the margin extended to 38-26 at half time.

Goldhawks came back strongly, scoring the first seven points of the third period but excellent foul shooting from Ellmore took the lead back to 10.  However an 8-2 run brought Surrey back into contention at 47-43 in the 7th minute as the noise levels in the sports hall rose.  But Swifts showed outstanding composure.  They reeled off the next 12 points, including two more three-pointers from Stack, on their way to a 62-44 lead going into the final stanza.

Although the visitors had the first six points, Ellmore and Powell again came to the fore, sharing nine of the next eleven points as Swifts ran out very worthy winners in an excellent contest.  Ellmore with 23 points, Powell 17, Stack 13 and Bennett 11 leading the nicely balanced scoreline.24th and 25th OCTOBER 2015


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 67  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 74

Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled early into East London looking to preserve their unbeaten record against the hometown Greenhouse Pioneers.   With their opponents fielding four new players from the National Institute, the task was difficult enough but with Southend missing Megan Jones and Charlotte Bennett, both recovering from operations and Amber Evans unavailable, this looked like a very difficult assignment.

Southend, however, had not appeared to have read the script as they opened an 8-2 lead in the 3rd minute.  Pioneers hit back with the next four but a 10-2 run took Swifts 18-8 ahead: Clare Gold already with nine points.  Still the visitors stayed in the ascendancy and six straight points from Zoe Willis took the margin to 17 before Greenhouse hit back with the final four points to trail 26-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Outstanding defence brought scores for Emily Taylor and Carlie Abbott and with Gold continuing to dominate at both ends, it was 37-21.  Pioneers hit back with the next four but a 7-2 spell closed out the half with Swifts leading 44-28.

The hosts came out much stronger at the start of the third period, scoring seven of the first nine points.  But led by 15 year old Charlotte Ellmore, Southend had the next seven to take the lead to 18.  With Kacey Realf having her most dominant outing with five rebounds and three assists in the quarter, the lead was 60-41 going into the final 10 minutes.

But as to be expected, Greenhouse began to make a comeback.  Spurred on by their younger players, they scored 7 unanswered points as Swifts failed to register on the scoreboard for four minute.  Gold eventually made a pair of foul shots but a 9-2 run for the home side made it 64-57 with four minutes to play.  A further 6-1 spell made it 65-63 and a major turnaround looked likely.  Four points from Willis helped Southend to five of the next seven points that slightly calmed the nerves.  But Pioneers tactics of fouling as soon as they lost the ball paid dividends as a number of Swifts players found themselves on the floor.  The foul shooting was less than outstanding but Southend had the final three points to close out a very good contest by 74 points to 67.  Gold with 24 points, Willis 18 and Ellmore 16 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 38  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85

After the excitement of the under 18 game, it was for Southend Swifts under 16 team to pit their wits against London Greenhouse Pioneers.  The London side run an excellent programme and the addition of a skilled Eastern European centre would make this a very tough task as would the intended departure at half time of Charlotte Ellmore.

And so it proved as Pioneers took a 13-7 lead after five minutes, despite six points from Georgia Powell.  Swifts suddenly clicked into gear, scoring the next 13 points with Rhian Simpson particularly dominant, on their way to a 22-16 first quarter lead; Simpson with 10 points.

Neither side could find any fluency at the start of the second period with only 15 points scored in the first eight minutes as Swifts led 31-23.  But with Powell scoring five and Shannon Brook four, Southend made a decisive 13-3 run that took them 44-26 ahead at half time.

The second half would see a complete change in the match fortunes.  Led by captain Amelia Wilson, Swifts had the first nine points as they closed their opponents down.  Tonie Abbott and Brook took advantage of the defensive pressure that created turnovers and with one quarter remaining it was 59-34, despite the loss of Powell to a leg injury.

The last period showed the strength in depth of this Swifts team.  Kate Bennett, Tia Stack, Millie Withers and Grace Crook started scoring at will. Two spells of 10 unanswered points were interrupted by just one home basket and when Crook hit a three-pointer, much to the delight of her team mates, it was a job excellently done at 85-38.  Powell with 18 points, Bennett and Simpson 12 each and Brook 11 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 67  BRENTWOOD LEOPARDS 37

Southend Swifts under 16 boys looked to build on their successful first appearance when they met Brentwood Leopards at their home court at Seevic College.  Brentwood were playing their opening fixture of the season.

The visitors made the better start, leading 6-3 in the 4th minute before two baskets from Thomas Sowoolu gave Southend their first lead.  The teams continued to trade scores leaving the game tied at 14 at the end of the first quarter.

The second period would see a marked change in fortunes.  Baskets from Daniel Adebayo, Jordan Sullens and Zack Littlejohn opened a gap and from 22-18, Swifts scored 10 straight that left them 32-21 ahead at the midway interval.

The third quarter saw another strong performance from the hosts.  Led by Adebayo, Littlejohn, Sowoolu and Isaac Smith, an 8-2 run took the lead to 17 and with Littlejohn scoring the next five, the margin went over 20.  With Daniel Bull getting the last basket, it was 49-28 going into the final 10 minutes.

Four points from Adebayo took the lead to 25 before Leopards replied with the next five.  But that was never going to be enough and with Swifts scoring the last 10 points, they recorded an excellent 67-37 win.  Littlejohn with 21 points, Adebayo 15 and Sowoolu 8 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

IPSWICH BOBCATS 61   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 74

Whilst older age group competitions are seeded by ability, the under 14 girls leagues are arranged purely by geography.  This gives rise to games turning out to be mismatches providing little for either team.  So the visit of Southend Swifts to Ipswich Bobcats promised to be a much closer affair than many of the games played so far.

The early play saw Southend captain Charlotte Redhead surprisingly collect two personal fouls in the first 90 seconds, which would certainly affect her defensive abilities.  Ipswich led 6-2 after four minutes but scores from Skye Stack and Redhead tied the game up before the hosts again led by four.  But triggered by a Redhead three-pointer, Swifts scored 14 unanswered points to lead by 10 and that was the margin at the end of the first quarter, with the score standing at 22-12.

For players so young, the game was being played with tremendous intensity.  Scores from Eleanor But and Lilly Annim helped maintain the margin before five straight points brought Bobcats back into contention.  Swifts foul shooting was letting them down and a 6-0 run for the home team made it 31-27 with two minutes to play in the first half.  But three points for Stack and a late basket for Annim gave Southend a very narrow 37-32 half time lead.  What was more concerning was that Butt, Redhead and Stack had all collected three personal fouls.

Another Redhead three-pointer calmed the nerves as Swifts defence kept their opponents at bay.  Four further points from Redhead and scores from Annim and Poppy Herd took the lead to 48-36. Regan Boyle and Anna Trett were putting in their best-ever club performances and despite Butt collecting her 4th foul, Swifts ended the third period with a 9-0 run; Annim dominating at both ends of the court.

As to be expected, Ipswich battled back and a 9-4 spell reduced the deficit to 63-51 after three minutes of the final stanza.  Annim had her team’s next four as the lead remained at 12.  But the home side had the next six as their vociferous supporters tried to push them over the finishing line.  But Swifts displayed a calmness beyond their years.  Butt came back into the game and she had three points and Annim two as the margin went back into double digits.  Redhead completely controlled the tempo and her 15 foot jump shot completed a superb win in a contest between two teams that will certainly be amongst the best in the country this year.  Annim with 25 points, Redhead 23 and Butt 12 leading the scoring.


17th and 18th OCTOBER 2015

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

HARINGEY ANGELS 58  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84

The newly formed premier division for under 16 girls is intended to provide a better level of regular competitive basketball.  However matches between Southend Swifts and their great friends Haringey Angels have always been of the highest level and the early morning trip into London was expected to provide similar fare for the Essex team.

From the start, Swifts showed an incredible level of intensity.  Seven points from Georgia Powell inside the first three minutes opened a five point lead before eight straight made it 15-2 midway through the first quarter – an unprecedented start. With Charlotte Ellmore in irresistible form and Tia Stack provided defensive energy the margin continued to grow and when the latter had an old-fashioned three-point play, it was 25-8.  Five more points from Powell concluded a remarkable opening 10 minutes, as Swifts led 30-12 – an offensive total that some teams will struggle to reach in a whole game,

Southend, and every other club in girls’ basketball, know only too well that no lead is big enough against Haringey, so another good start was vital. And they got it with two more three-pointers from Powell as the gap increased to 38-14.   But Haringey did indeed start a comeback and an 8-0 run reduced the deficit to 16 before successive three-pointers from Ellmore and Powell took back the momentum and at half time it was 50-28.

Angels must certainly have heeded their team talk and had the better of the opening exchanges to reduce the gap back to 56-38 as they dominated the offensive rebounds.  But a three-point play from Stack steadied matters and with Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson stopping any further second chance scores, the margin returned to 20.  A pair of Bennett foul shots was followed by a long two from the vastly improved Crook and it was 67-47 with one quarter to play.

This time it was Ellmore dominating proceedings.  She had Swifts’ first 11 points as they restricted their illustrious opponents to just four points in the opening six minutes to lead 78-51.  From there victory was complete, with Jodie Tobaiwa scoring her first club basket as Southend recorded an outstanding 84-58 victory.  Ellmore with a career high 38 points and Powell 25 leading a superlative team effort.

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

CHELMSFORD LIONS 73  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 47

Southend Swifts under 18 Men made the short journey to Chelmsford to face the Lions in their latest league fixture.

A brutal start to the game saw Southend held scoreless for the opening six minutes, whilst their hosts rattled off 14 of their own.  Swifts were unable to compose themselves on the reduced size court and trailed 26-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Scott Williams opened the second quarter with five straight points for Swifts to get them into double figures for the game, but they were unable to slow the flowing Lions offence and were facing a 43-22 deficit at the half.

Another tough quarter was in store for Swifts as they failed to protect their own basket.  Tyler Barlow managed a three-pointer, but other scores were few and far between with Swifts trailing 64-33 with one quarter remaining.

Swifts were actually able to win the final quarter which included a 9-0 run for them against the Lions' bench.  The final score being 73-47 in favour of the hosts.  

Williams led the way with Josh Powell, both managing 10 points.

UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP FIRST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84  KINGSTON LADY WILDCATS 60

It was first round national cup action for Southend Swifts under 18 girls when they welcomed Kingston Lady Wildcats to their home court at Seevic College.  With a number of players unavailable, Swifts were forced to field a number of under 16 players who had been in action in London earlier the same day.

It was certainly an uncharacteristic slow start for the home side as Kingston scored the first six points of the contest.  But a time-out had the desired effect as Southend went on a stunning 26-4 run to lead by 16 at the end of the first quarter.  The teams shared the points in the second period with Swifts holding a 39-21 lead after seven minutes but suddenly it was Wildcats in the ascendancy as they scored the last 12 points to trail just 39-33 at half time.

When the Surrey team had the first six points to tie the game up, it looked like an upset was on the cards.  But once again, Swifts showed their pedigree with a 21-2 spell that opened the game up, on their way to a 66-46 lead with one stanza remaining.  Ten unanswered points put the game beyond doubt as both teams ran their benches with Southend recording an 84-60 victory against a team that will doubtless cause problems for many opponents this season.

Charlotte Ellmore repeated her heroics from earlier in the day with 28 points, captain Megan Jones had 25 with five three-pointers and Claire Gold 11.

UNDER 16 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 48  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 83

Southend Swifts under 16 boys were the final club team to get onto court this season when they made the short journey to take on Southend Scorpions.  Swifts have entered this division with a very young team, mostly under 15s, so expected to have some difficult encounters.

Early points from Zack Littlejohn gave Swifts a promising start but they were unable to establish any kind of margin, leading just 15-11 at the end of the first quarter.  The second period, however, would see a complete change of fortunes.  With Thomas Sowoolu dominating around the basket, Swifts took over proceedings.  Despite constant changes of personnel, Swifts took the period by 23 points to 4, giving them a 38-15 advantage they never looked like relinquishing.

The third quarter was largely the same, with Alex Skingle, Littlejohn and Isaac Smith to the fore.  Noah Kasakaitis and Nick Skinner also found the basket and with one period remaining it was 65-30.  Unsurprisingly the intensity dropped in the final 10 minutes as Swifts recorded an excellent 83-48 win that is greatly encouraging for the coming season.  Littlejohn with 20 points, Sowoolu 18 and Skingle 10 leading the nicely balanced scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

NORFOLK ICENI 27   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 105

This was a match that does not provide a great deal of assistance to either team.  At 21-0 after five minutes, Southend took off their starting players to give the younger and far less experienced ones the opportunity to play together.  Whilst this has its advantages, for Swifts progression at least, it is not why competition takes place.

With 9 year old Megan Hook registering her first national league points, Swifts gently got through the contest.  A 105-27 victory will not bring complacency for much sterner tasks ahead.


UNDER 18 MEN NATIONAL CUP SECOND ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80  NEWHAM ALL STAR SPORTS ACADEMY (NASSA) 55

Southend Swifts under 18 Men welcomed NASSA, a team they had never recorded a victory over, to Seevic College for this second round national cup tie.

Southend had an altered game plan following a heavy league defeat the previous day and it appeared to work from the tip.  Having fallen behind 4-2, Swifts went on a 21-4 run, executing superbly on both ends of the floor to force turnovers and then capitalise with easy scores.  They closed the quarter with a 26-10 lead behind 12 points for England international Paul Jeboda; including a huge two-handed dunk in traffic.

With their tails up, Swifts knew that NASSA would come back strong, but were able to keep them at bay with some sharp shooting from Harry Harwood who found the basket from three point range as Swifts maintained a 34-18 lead.  Newham continued to chip away at the margin, but scores from Jamie Matthews and Jeboda gave their side a 38-27 half-time lead.

This lead was cut to single figures at 41-33 and the momentum was with the visitors.  However, Swifts showed great resolve to rattle off 11 straight points shared amongst Harwood, Jeboda, Josh Powell and Dan Davies to give the home side a 52-33 lead midway through the third quarter. NASSA began to pound the ball inside to their advantage, but Matthews, Powell and Harwood continued to keep the margin at a healthy state as Swifts led 67-44 at the end of the third.

The final quarter was much of a dead rubber as Swifts had taken complete control of the game. They were able to stretch their lead to 30 points behind seven straight for Matthews.  The final score standing at 80-55 for Swifts who progress to Round 3 of the Cup.  Matthews led the way with 24 points, followed by Harwood with 18 and Jeboda with 16.


10th and 11th OCTOBER 2015

UNDER 14 GIRLS – EAST MIDLANDS CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD FIRE 41 SOUTHEND SWIFTS 108

Southend Swifts under 14 girls finally made it onto court when they travelled to Billericay School to take on Brentwood Fire.  A tough fixture was expected as Brentwood had recorded a 30 point win in their first game of the season and Southend having a number of players in their first year of competitive play.

But from two points apiece, Swifts showed what they are capable of.  Aggressive defence turned into very rapid attack as captain Charlotte Redhead orchestrated the play.  Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt dominated at both ends of the court and suddenly the lead was 20.  Personnel was already being changed with Anabelle Yates-Ringshall scoring her first basket.  With three minutes of the first quarter remaining eight year old Emily Fessey Cook came in and she helped her team to a 38-5 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Some excellent offensive play from Skye Stack kept up the momentum and with Sophie Medland scoring her first national league points, the margin continued to grow despite so many new players on court.   Regan Boyle displayed her athleticism at both ends of the court as the lead went over 25 despite Redhead sitting out.  With four minutes to play Stevie Roberts, just seven years old and certainly the most diminutive-ever Swift, made her national league debut.  Much to the delight of all of the spectators, she scored from 10 feet out as her team led 61-19 at half time.

The third quarter was again one-way traffic with Annim in particular dominant.  Anna Trett displayed her prowess in controlling the play and with Molly Sims showing her vast improvement, the margin increased to 95-23 going into the final period despite the loss of Butt to a finger injury.  The fourth quarter was largely academic although Swifts played the last five minutes with the two youngest on court.  Redhead ended proceedings with a three-pointer that gave her team a resounding 108-41 victory.  Annim and Butt had 30 points each with Redhead on 18 and as many assists.

ESSEX UNDER 12 LEAGUE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 78  THURROCK HORNETS 45

A new competition saw a new Southend Swifts team take to the court in the Essex under 12 league, designed simply to get young players onto court.  Swifts team is a by-product of their very popular primary school session on Friday evenings at Seevic College and that was the venue of this first game.

The competition is played under “all must play rules” meaning that in the first half all 10 players must play for half of the allotted 20 minutes.  With Swifts only having nine available players, they started with a 10 point deficit.  But this was soon wiped out as the home side scored the first 13 points with Jack Hayes, Jamie Fessey Cook, Joshua Sowoolu and Harry Burks on the scoresheet.  Thurrock got their first actual points after nine minutes but further scores from Thomas Mathe and Oliver Cooper made it 16-12 at the end of the opening quarter.

The scoring was much more even in the second period with Hornets reducing the deficit to 24-19 after six minutes despite a spectacular reverse lay-up from Joe Burks.  However a 10-4 run took the initiative back and at half time Swifts led 34-23.

The third quarter would give a glimpse of the potential of these young men.  Isaac Volk started an 8-0 run and with Hayes and Cooper getting through the Hornets defence, suddenly it was 50-27.  The loss of Mathe to a finger injury caused some disruption but a basket from Sam Kasakaitis helped Southend to a 58-35 lead going into the final period.

The visitors had their best spell, making a 12-4 run, as Swifts relaxed a little.  But scoring the final 16 points will have given the youngsters great confidence as they concluded an excellent 78-45 victory in a competition that only be positive for the sport as a whole.  Hayes with 19 points, Burks 16, Volk 14 and Cooper 13 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH PREMIER DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77  PECKHAM PRIDE 32

The first game of the season for Southend Swifts under 16 girls was also a special day for girls’ basketball with the start of a new premier league competition.  This should ensure regular higher standard competition with both a North Premier and South Premier leagues at under 16 level.  For Southend, it was a potentially very tough start with the visit of last season’s national runners-up in Peckham Pride.

But after the visitors had the opening basket, Swifts raised the tempo completely.  Swarming aggressive defence saw scores from Rhian Simpson,, Georgia Powell and Charlotte Ellmore for seven straight.  Player changes ensured there was no let up and baskets from Katie Bennett, Ellmore, Chelsea Locke and six straight from Tia Stack concluded a 19 -0 run.  Peckham replied but the hosts ended up with the last nine, including a Millie Withers three-pointer, and at the end of the first quarter it was 28-4.

Four points from Ellmore got the second period under way but the scoring rate certainly subsided.  From 36-7, Peckham had their best spell with six straight as the home side regularly changed personnel.  But another nine unanswered points, with four from Simpson, took back the momentum and at half time the lead stood at 47-15.

Neither team could find their range in the opening three minutes before two long twos from Grace Crook and Amelia Wilson got Southend moving again.  The loss of Powell to a sprained ankle disrupted the flow before a steal and lay-up from Shannon Brook got the scoreboard moving again.  Defensive pressure continued to bring turnovers but the finishing was certainly below the level of the first quarter.  Ellmore had the last four points that took her team 59-21 up going into the final stanza.

Tonie Abbott came to the fore with the first four points and with Molley Gould scoring a lay-up off a fast break, all 12 Swifts were on the score sheet.  The intensity naturally diminished as Southend completed a surprisingly comprehensive 77-32 victory with Ellmore on 21 points, Stack 13 and Simpson 10.


3rd and 4th OCTOBER 2015

UNDER 18 MEN – EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 118 BRENTWOOD LEOPARDS 14

Southend Swifts under 18 Men got their national league campaign underway on Saturday, hosting Essex Leopards at Seevic College.

Swifts got out to a fast start, taking an 11-0 lead within three minutes behind eight points for England international Paul Jeboda.  The one way tide of scoring continued out to a 34-0 lead for the hosts, before Leopards finally found their way onto the scoresheet with a pair of free throws.  At the end of the first quarter the score stood at 39-2.

Josh Powell got Swifts off the mark to begin the second quarter, before Harry Harwood scored seven straight to take the lead out to 48-2.  Tom Butt and Jamie Matthews both scored back-to-back baskets,  Leopards' only response being a late three-pointer to end the half with the score at 64-5.

Scott Williams got Swifts' first point of the second half, before Declan Gould began to make his presence felt with nine points of his own.  Points for Southend continued to be shared amongst all players, with Harwood, Williams, Gould, Jeboda and debutant Zack Littlejohn helping their side to hold a 96-8 lead with one period remaining.

The final quarter was very much a passive affair in which Jeboda, Littlejohn, Gould, Harwood and Dan Davies all managed to score and the game was rounded out with six straight points for Butt in a 118-14 win for Swifts; Jeboda with 28 and Harwood 23 leading the points tally.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 96 READING ROCKETS 30

Whilst the younger club teams have still to step on court in earnest, Southend Swifts under 18 girls played their third game of the season when they welcomed Reading Rockets to their home court at Seevic College.  Reading have a huge legacy in basketball development, with no less than 20 of their young players being part of the prestigious Basketball England Apprenticeship scheme that allows them to recruit players as well as providing enhanced funding.  Southend were below full strength with a number of players missing through injury and unavailability.

But from the start Swifts showed their own pedigree.  Seven early points for Zoe Willis were part of a 14-2 run over the first five minutes.  Rockets replied with the next three points before six straight for Claire Gold triggered a 16-0 run that made it 30-5 at the end of the first quarter.

As is always the case, Southend took the opportunity to give all of their players’ court time.  A three-pointer from Tia Stack was followed by a first basket for debutante Emily Taylor and with Stack converting two lay-ups from steals it was 44-7 after six minutes of the second period.  Scores from Amber Evans, Grace Livermore and a three-pointer from Megan Jones making it 51-13 at half time.

An unsurprising lack of concentration allowed the visitors the first five points, but with Gold and Evans dominating close to the basket and the energy of Carlie Abbott and Willis forcing turnovers. Swifts regained their composure to lead 69-26 going into the final stanza.  With the game over as a contest, it was an opportunity for captain Jones to get some shooting practice, which she did with 15 points in the 10 minutes including a very unusual four-point play.  With Sasha Cornell chipping in with six points, the home side ended with a very surprisingly comfortable 96-30 victory that keeps them at the top of the league table.  Gold with 23 points, Jones 19 and Evans and Willis 13 apiece.  

Next weekend sees a much busier club schedule with all three teams in action making their first competitive appearance of the season.  On Saturday the under 14 girls have an early start when they travel to Brentwood after which the under 12 boys play their first-ever game when they entertain Thurrock at Seevic College with a 1 pm start.  On Sunday the under 16 girls are also at home, to Peckham, with a 2 pm tip-off.

26th and 27th SEPTEMBER 2015

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 69  SEVENOAKS SUNS 67

The visit of the current national champions is always going to be a very tough task at any point in the season but the encounter between Sevenoaks Suns and Southend Swifts in just the second week was an even more daunting task.  With a number of the Sevenoaks players having played internationally during the season, there was little doubt the Kent-based team would be in excellent playing shape in the game at Seevic College.

And so it proved as the visitors took an early 6-2 lead after four minutes before foul shots from Zoe Willis and Megan Jones produced parity.  The teams continued to trade baskets despite Swifts struggling against Sevenoaks very aggressive defence and with one minute to play in the first quarter it was 16 apiece before Willis had the final three points to give her team a 19-16 lead.

Suns regained the initiative with six of the first eight points in the second period before a Jones three-pointer took Swifts one ahead at 26-25.  Again neither team could gain the initiative before Sevenoaks had their best spell, outscoring the hosts 11-3 over the last four minutes to lead 38-32 at half time; an Amber Evans three-pointer the only home score.

A second Evans long-range effort reduced the deficit to three at 40-47 before Sevenoaks moved it back out to eight at 47-39.  Four from Willis helped reduce the margin back to three but Sevenoaks had the next four to restore their advantage.  But an unusual defensive formation from Swifts reaped its rewards as they had nine of the next eleven scored, with Carlie Abbott bringing much-needed energy as well as four points, with Suns holding a narrow 55-53 lead going into the final quarter.

The visitors again moved ahead at 61-55 but a three-point play from the unusually subdued Claire Gold gave some semblance of hope.  But Sevenoaks nerve seemed to hold as they led 67-62 with two minutes to play.   Swifts again changed their formation and two steals gave Willis two lay-ups and it was a one point game with 35 seconds to play.  Suns turned the ball over giving Swifts another chance for the win.  The play broke down but the hosts regained possession and the ball found its way into Jones’ hands outside the three-point line.  The captain, ever-confident in her own ability, calmly made the shot with 5.7 seconds remaining, much to the delight of the home part of the crowd.  Sevenoaks had the final chance but the shot missed and Swifts recorded an outstanding win in a great display from both teams.  Willis with 26 points, Jones 16 and Evans 10 leading the scoring.

The previous day Swifts under 14 girls made their playing debut with friendly matches against Brighton Cougars and Haringey Angels.  Despite having the youngest, and physically smallest, squad they have ever fielded, Swifts came out with two victories in a most enjoyable event for all participants.

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18th & 19th APRIL 2015

UNDER 14 GIRLS PLAY-OFF - QUARTER FINAL

HARINGEY ANGELS 46  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 35

This play-off quarter final tie brought together two teams, Southend Swifts and Haringey Angels, that had already met within the South 1 conference.  This meant that one of the teams that would surely be ranked in the top four in the country would miss out on the ultimate prize.  A greatly disappointing outcome given that cross-conference games would ensure a true national competition and that the best teams get to the Final Fours.

After the points fest when the two teams last met, this was real play-off basketball.  With understandable nerves from every player, there were just six points scored in the first two minutes before Haringey had six straight to lead 8-4.  Southend’s normally reliable foul shooting was sadly amiss and they missed five of six attempts but a basket from Lilly Annim kept them in the hunt, trailing just 10-8 after six minutes.  A three-pointer from Angels captain Theresa Da Silva helped her team go seven clear but a pair of Katie Bennett foul shots made it 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

However Swifts came out with an incredible resolve.  They produced a quarter of defensive intensity rarely if ever seen by players so young.  They restricted the talented Haringey team to just four points in the 10 minute period; a monumental effort.  Unfortunately they could not take real advantage from this, missing no less than nine foul shots, as they trailed just 19-17 at half time.

The third period was no less nerve-racking as scores from Cheyenne Deridisi and Annim tied the game up at 21 apiece.  Haringey were doing an outstanding defensive job on Georgia Powell and Charlotte Redhead, normally so prolific for Swifts, although when Powell finally got clear to score, it was 25-24. The home side made a crucial break, scoring the next eight points, and that was where the quarter finished at 36-28.

And so the final 10 minutes of the season for one of these outstanding teams.  Southend took the initiative with the first four points and it was 36-32.  Both sets of players seemed panic-stricken and with the spectators, all showing the utmost respect to the opposition, willing their team on.  Neither side could find the basket until the 7th minute, when Da Silva hit her second three-pointer of the day and gave Angels that final push.   Bennett made a three-pointer, but Swifts could get no closer and with Da Silva scoring the final five points, her team ran out 46-35 winners to reach the National Finals.

Despite the huge disappointment for Swifts, this has been a magnificent season and they wish their great friends and rivals Haringey every success in the finals.


UNDER 16 GIRLS PLAY-OFF - QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 59  NOTTINGHAM WILDCATS 48

So after the defeat for their under 14 girls, it was left to Southend Swifts under 16s to become the clubs only representative at the Final Fours.  Their opponents were Nottingham Wildcats, a club with a huge legacy in women’s basketball and who had finished in joint top place in the Midland South West conference; Southend having won the South 1 division.

Swifts made the stronger start, scoring the first four points and when Kacey Realf and Charlotte Ellmore both converted, it was 13-4 in the 7th minute.  Unsurprisingly, Wildcats showed their resolve with five of the next seven points to trail just 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.

Scores from Zoe Willis and Amber Evans increased the margin but Southend were struggling to control the speed and athleticism of Maya Hyacienth.  She had five of her team’s next nine points and suddenly it was a one point game at 19-18 after six minutes.  An old-fashioned three-point play from Evans gave Swifts some leeway but Wildcats again hit back and it was just a one point margin again, with 90 seconds to play.  But in that short space of time, Swifts made the decisive break of the game.  A foul shot from Evans was followed by a three pointer from Georgia Powell and five points from Willis gave the hosts a 32-22 half time advantage.

After conceding the first score, another Powell basket was followed by a three-pointer from the vastly improved Rhian Simpson and three more from Willis and it was 40-24 after four minutes and surely a comfortable win for the Essex side.  But Nottingham had other ideas and three long range efforts were part of a 12-6 run that reduced the deficit to 46-36 going into the final stanza.

With the nerves of the teams and the large watching crowd on edge, neither team scored until the 3rd minute when Willis converted a pair of foul shots.  Hyacienth had the next four and when the diminutive Brahe Ashton made a three-point shot, it was just 49-45 with four minutes to play and the spectators on the edge of their seats.  But up stepped the two youngest Swifts.  14 year olds Ellmore and Powell (the latter still in year 9) both converted a pair of foul shots before Willis twice made her way through the Nottingham defence and it was 57-45 and the home supporters could breathe more easily.  Ashton had another three-pointer but a Willis score was the final basket as Swifts recorded a fine 59-48 win against excellent opposition.  Willis with 28 points, Powell 9 and Evans and Simpson 7 each the high scorers on the day.


11th & 12th APRIL 2015

UNDER 16 GIRLS – PLAY-OFFS 1ST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 59  SHEFFIELD HATTERS 44

The first round of the play-offs saw Southend Swifts under 16 girls with a home tie against Sheffield Hatters.  Sheffield Hatters the most successful women’s sports clubs in the whole of England and have a history of winning big matches.  At last season’s final fours, the bulk of their team defeated Southend’s previously unbeaten under 14 side, so this was destined to be the toughest of battles.

Swifts made an excellent start as five points from Amber Evans and four from Carlie Abbott took them 13-4 ahead after five minutes.  But Hatters showed their customary grit and determination and led by the outstanding Shauna Harrison, they reeled off the next 13 points to lead by four at the first interval.

But after conceding the first basket, it was the home side’s turn for a run.  A further five from Abbott was part of a 9-0 spell that took them 22-19 ahead.  Points were at a premium as Sheffield recovered to 24 all in the final minute of the half before Zoe Willis had the final three to give Southend a very narrow 27-24 half time lead.

Neither side could get clear, with Swifts leading just 31-30 after four minutes of the third period, before came the decisive passage of play.  The Northern side were kept scoreless for the remainder of the quarter as Southend turned up the defensive intensity.  Kacey Realf was outstanding with six points and seven rebounds including a decisive putback that helped her team to a 43-30 lead.

With Willis starting to get to the basket and Swifts’ constant changes of personnel, the lead grew to 18 at 52-34; Millie Withers and Shannon Brook having been particularly effective.  Even the loss of captain Evans, with a bloody nose, failed to make any real impact and despite the visitors battling to the end, a score from Grace Livermore and an and-one from Charlotte Ellmore concluded proceedings as Swifts recorded a very hard-fought 59-44 win.

Harrison led the way for Hatters with 24 points but the greater balance of the hosts scoring of Willis 22 and four other players with six or more was the decisive factor.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – PLAY-OFFS 1ST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 101  TAMESIDE ROYALS 44

This under 14 girls play-off was the first-ever fixture between the two clubs, with Tameside hailing from the North West.  A very crowded Seevic College gym only adding to the nerves for both teams.

From 4 all after two minutes, Southend began to stamp their authority against the young but very skilful Royals team.  Georgia Powell, Charlotte Redhead and Eleanor Butt all found the basket and despite Lilly Annim being unable to play, the lead after six minutes was 16-8.  Then the usual intensity was turned up.  Katie Bennett. Molley Gould and Skye Stack also got onto the scoresheet and at the end of the first quarter; the lead was 27-10.

After conceding the first basket, Swifts made 12 straight, with Powell and Stack on four apiece.  The scoring barrage continued and when Redhead made a three-pointer the lead was 30 and the pressure defence relaxed.  This certainly had an effect on the scoring rate and at half time, Southend’s lead was 53-20.

Bennett and Cheyenne Deridisi got on the end of some delightful fast break moves that brought applause from both sets of spectators and it was 71-24 after seven minutes of the third quarter.  Tameside continued to battle and they had their best spell with an 11-4 run that made it 75-35 going into the final period.

But Swifts were determined to end their final home game of the season on a high.  Gould and Redhead were a major part of 17 unanswered points and with Butt taking the score over 100 with an old-fashioned three point play, the game ended with prolonged applause for both teams after an excellent contest.

Swifts had no less than five players in double figures, with Redhead on 26, Powell and Butt on 17, Bennett 16 and Gould 10.


7th & 8th MARCH 2015

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 28  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73

The weekend started on Friday night for Southend Swifts under 16 girls when they made the journey around the M25 to take on Hertfordshire Warriors.  Southend were again missing a number of players in a match that was crucial to both teams; Warriors looking to consolidate 4th place in the Conference and Swifts looking to complete the league title.

Despite some very poor foul shooting, Southend opened a 6-2 lead before allowing the home side to recover to trail just 7-6.  But suddenly Swifts began to show a bit more of their normal style, scoring the last 11 points to lead 18-6 at the first interval.

The second quarter was really no better for the Essex side as they contrived to miss numerous scoring opportunities.  Indeed the margin reduced to just nine at 25-16 before Swifts ran in the last six points to lead 31-16 at half time.

But whatever was said during the break had the desired effect.  Charlotte Ellmore and Carlie Abbott had four points each in a 10-0 run.  After Hertfordshire had four of the next six, Southend ran in the next 14 to hold a 56-20 advantage going into the final 10 minutes, Ellmore and Amber Evans largely sharing the spoils.

Constant changes in personnel had little effect as Swifts scored the first 11 points (making 25 unanswered) on their way to a 73-28 win that gives them the title in the very competitive South 1 Conference.  Ellmore and Evans with 17 points each and Abbott 11 leading the scoring.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

HARINGEY ANGELS 76  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77

The second meeting of the season between the top two teams in the Under 14 girls South 1 Conference promised much.  Unbeaten Haringey Angels at home to Southend Swifts, who had suffered just one reverse at the hands of their great friends and rivals.  Southend were again missing a number of players.

The first quarter was a superb display of offensive skills.  Katie Bennett and Georgia Powell leading Southend to a 17-13 lead, Haringey replying with eight straight before Swifts ended the quarter with an 8-2 run that gave them a 25-23 lead; almost as many points as other teams manage in an entire game.

Scores from Charlotte Redhead and Powell took the visitors seven ahead at 31-24 and when Powell hit her second three-pointer it was 37-30.  But from 39-34, Swifts would run in the final 10 points to lead by a very surprising 49-34 at half time; captain Powell already with a remarkable 26 points.

The scoring fest continued and five straight for Powell took Swifts 65-40 ahead after seven minutes of the third quarter but some over-zealous officiating saw Bennett and Redhead collect their fourth fouls in very quick succession.  Angels took advantage, making a 9-2 run to reduce the margin to 67-49 and certainly taking the initiative.

And when Powell collected her 4th foul in the 1st minute of the final quarter, the situation looked impossible.  A 14-3 run made it 70-63 and despite scores from Molley Gould and Redhead, it was one-way traffic as Swifts could exert no defensive pressure whatsoever.  With two minutes to play, it was a nine point game but Haringey hit 11 straight as Redhead was adjudged to have committed her 5th foul and Swifts were finally granted a time out with nine seconds to play.

Amidst the highest of emotions, the final instructions were given.  Get to the basket if possible, failing which Powell to take a three-point shot.  With both sets of supporters screaming their encouragement, the ball was advanced.  There were no gaps and with one second remaining, the ball came to Powell half a metre outside the three-point line.  She launched the shot before the buzzer sounded and the ball kissed lightly off the backboard before going through the hoop to give Swifts the most incredible of victories.  Just seven fit players on the bench, and with everything seemingly stacked against them, they recorded a one point win.  Powell with a career high 40 points including five three-pointers, Bennett with 19 and Redhead 10 led the magnificent seven to victory.


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE - EAST CONFERENCE

BUCKS HORNETS 62  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60

After last week's very disappointing 80 point defeat to Hertfordshire Warriors, Southend Swifts under 14 boys were understandably apprehensive about their visit to Bucks Hornets.  Having narrowly beaten them at home earlier in the season, Swifts were aware that Hornets had beaten Warriors twice this season. Apparently, when Swifts inflicted Hornets first defeat of the season, the visitors were without several key players and this time they would be at full strength and seeking revenge!

During the warm up, two of the missing key players from that previous encounter started dunking the ball and Swifts worst fears seemed confirmed! However, Swifts did welcome the return of Dan Adebayo for this game and as he was significantly instrumental in the home victory, there was some hope of at least not conceding another heavy defeat.

Swifts surprisingly opened the scoring with a Thomas Sowoolu drive but the hosts came back quickly with an 11-2 run. Sowoolu continued to get to the basket very effectively and scored the first 6 points for the visitors but Hornets had established a 13-6 lead after 5 minutes. However, Swifts were not to be intimidated by the superior height and athleticism of their opponents and with Adebayo and Isaac Smith fighting hard along with Sowoolu, they managed a 7-0 run to bring the scores level at 13-13 after 8 minutes.  However, a 6-2 run from the hosts took them into a 19-15 lead at the end of the first period. A promising start for the visitors but could they keep it up?

Hornets scored the first two baskets of the 2nd period before Swifts went on a 9-0 run to take the lead 24-23 for the first time in the game thanks to sterling work on defence from Adebayo and Smith and continued excellence on offence by Sowoolu. A 4-1 run took Hornets ahead again but this was quickly answered by the visitors with a final 6-0 run to give them a 31-28 lead at half time. The initially vociferous home crowd was strangely quiet at the break.

The 3rd period continued in a similar vein with Swifts resolute in defence but still managing to retain the initiative on offence.  Isaac Smith was having his best ever game for the Club both on offence and defence and point guard Nick Skinner staying calm under intense pressure and providing numerous assists to his team mates.  The hosts just could not find any fluency in their offence and became frustrated, resulting in many fouls being committed. The end of the 3rd period saw Swifts with a most unlikely 46-38 lead and a real chance to cause a major upset.

The 4th period was sure to be a be a hard fought affair with the home crowd back in full voice trying to urge their team to the comfortable victory they had expected. The period started well for Swifts with Sowoolu making the first score but an 8-1 run from Hornets brought them to within 1 point and the crowd to their feet. Hornets full court pressure defence did bring a few turnovers but also more fouls which resulted in them losing their best player with 5 fouls and Swifts having 10 free throws in a 3 minute spell, unfortunately only converting three of them. It did keep them ahead though but only just at 53-52 with 3 minutes to go. Then a 5-0 run with Smith scoring 4 of them took Swifts 6 points up with just 2 minutes left, surely a winning position? A dramatic 7-0 run from Hornets had the crowd ecstatic as they led by 1 point with less than a minute to go, a Hornets foul put Swifts on the line for 2 pressure shots but both were missed and Hornets had possession. A missed shot from Hornets and a rebound from Swifts gave them one last chance to score and Sowoolu did so with just 7 seconds left of the game and a 1 point lead. Hornets had possession and Swifts worked really hard to keep them away from the basket without fouling as they were on team fouls and any foul would have given Hornets a chance to win the game, with just 2 seconds left Hornets had no choice but to launch a 3 pointer and hope for the best and the best was the result as the ball swished through the hoop with less than a second left and no time for Swifts to do anything about it. The crowd and home team players went wild as Hornets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at 62-60.  For Swifts there was huge disappointment at the loss but great pride for an outstanding performance against a very good team. Top scorers or Swifts: Sowoolu with a career high 33 points, Smith 15, Adebayo 6.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 97  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS EAST 41

Having clinched the league title two days earlier, it was a relaxed Southend Swifts under 16 girls team that played their final conference fixture of the season at home to Greenhouse Pioneers East.

From four points all, the heat was turned up and runs of 9 and 10 took the team to a 30-11 first quarter lead; Charlotte Ellmore with 17 in the period.  The second quarter was similar fare with Millie Withers, Rhian Simpson and Tia Stack getting into the points and with Grace Crook continuing her good form, it was 57-19 at half time.

Even with a more subdued defence, the hosts had the first 18 points of the third quarter with Carlie Abbott getting on the end of some fast breaks and at three quarter time, it was 77-23.

Pioneers battled well in the final quarter, almost doubling their score.  Swifts played the last five minutes with their five year 11 players, for whom this was their last league game at this age level.  It was even more fitting that Swifts stalwart Grace Livermore should score the final basket with a left-handed lay-up off of a fine flowing move.  Ellmore top-scored with a season-high 27 points with three other players in double figures.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 36

With a play-off place seemingly beyond them, Southend Swifts under 18 girls were certainly playing for pride when they met London Greenhouse Pioneers in their penultimate game of the season.  The last time the two teams met, Pioneers recorded a 23 point victory and they, and their coaching staff, would have expected a similar result.

Southend had other ideas.  Zoe Willis, just back from a skiing trip, had eight early points and with Megan Jones hitting from three-point range, Swifts had the first 13 points on their way to a 17-7 first quarter lead.  Eight straight at the start of the second period took the lead towards 20 and despite some spirited work from the younger Pioneers’ players it was 31-16 at half time.

But the third quarter would see some outstanding play.  Time and again Charlotte Bennett found her team mates with some spectacular passes as well as finding the basket herself and with one stanza remaining it was 48-26.  After conceding the first four points, Swifts sprang into action, with Corfield hitting a pair of three-pointers as runs of 9 and 12 took the result beyond reach.  Corfield with 22 points, Bennett 17 and Willis 13 leading the scoring.


28th FEBRUARY & 1st MARCH 2015

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

GREENHOUSE PIONEERS SOUTH 41  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

Southend Swifts under 16 girls made the journey to South London to take on Greenhouse Pioneers South, looking to consolidate their position at the top of the South 1 Conference.  Southend were missing a number of players due to school holidays and expected a competitive outing.

A scrappy start from both teams saw Swifts lead 5-0 on the back of an Amber Evans three-pointer and with Charlotte Ellmore controlling the tempo, it was 11-4 after 5 minutes.  Carlie Abbott was playing outstanding defence on Pioneers’ Sarah Bello and her two steals and scores were part of eight straight points that took her team 25-10 ahead at the end of the first quarter; Grace Crook with six in the period.

Constant changes of personnel had little effect as the lead moved to 31-14 before Pioneers had their best spell, scoring eight straight to reduce the deficit to just nine.  Abbott had other ideas, and she had the final five points of the quarter as the visitors led 37-24 at the midway break.

Swifts still struggled for fluency, leading just 42-30 after six minutes before Abbott and Crook again found their scoring touch.  They shared the next 13 points, whilst their team conceded just seven as Southend consolidated their advantage at 55-37 going into the final quarter.

And as if the pressure was released, Swifts proceeded to score the next 15 points on their way to a slightly flattering 72 points to 41 with Abbott on a career high 32 points and Crook with 16.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 109  BRENTWOOD FIRE 30

The latest venture for Southend Swifts under 14 girls was a home fixture against Brentwood Fire.  Brentwood are just two places below Southend in the very competitive conference, so Southend fully expected a tough battle.

But the young ladies had other ideas.  Katie Bennett had her team’s first thirteen points as they led 18-2 in the fifth minute.  Charlotte Redhead, Cheyenne Deridisi and captain Georgia Powell all chipped in with scores and at the end of the first quarter, the lead was a resounding 36-10.

As always in these situations, the defensive pressure is dropped, although the scoring rate may not subside as quickly.  Eleanor Butt had three straight scores in a 14-2 run and with Redhead also scoring at will, it was 61-16 at half time.

Butt and Molley Gould kept the scoreboard ticking over as Bennett delighted the spectators with some outstanding passes.  Poppy Herd got on the end of a stunning fast break move and a Redhead three-pointer ended the quarter with the hosts leading 84-20.

The fourth quarter saw the younger players getting extended court time.  Butt and Skye Stack both led the scoring as Southend recorded a very surprisingly comfortable 109-30 victory.  Butt led the way with a career high 24 points, with Bennett on 23 and Redhead 22.


U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD FIRE 81  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54

With a somewhat depleted team, Southend Swifts under 15 boys made the short trip to the undefeated league leaders knowing that it would be a very hard task to be competitive following their 60 point home defeat earlier in the season. However, Swifts actually made the better start by scoring first after a steal and put back by Lewis Jeffery and they followed that up with scores from Nick Skinner and Zack Littlejohn to keep pace with their hosts in the first 5 minutes. With Thomas Sowoolu and Matt Kerridge winning rebounds at both ends of the court, and Sowoolu particularly effective at the offensive end, Swifts found themselves just 12-16 down at the end of the 1st period.

This scoreline certainly spurred Fire into action in the 2nd period when they eventually got their offensive game together.  The visitors faced a swarming full court press with the resulting turnovers giving them the impetus to dominate the period by scoring 32 points to Swifts 10 leaving the game effectively out of reach at 22-48 at half time.

To their credit Swifts continued to battle hard and as soon as their opponents relaxed they started to score again with Littlejohn and Sowoolu prominent in offence and Kerridge taking some great rebounds on defence.  Swifts lost the period by just 3 points to leave a 38-67 deficit at the end of the 3rd period. The final quarter saw a continued spirited performance from Swifts which finished with a buzzer beating 3 pointer from Littlejohn to leave a very respectable 54-81.

Swifts top scorers: Sowoolu 20, Littlejohn 13, Skinner 10, Kerridge 9


U18 MEN NATIONAL LEAGUE - SOUTH 2 DIVISION

SEVENOAKS SUNS 57  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 98

Southend Swifts under 18 men made the trip to Sevenoaks for their penultimate game of the season, looking to recover from a comprehensive defeat at Haringey the previous weekend.

Swifts started brightly against the short-handed Suns, opening up a 6-0 lead behind scores for Paul Jeboda and Josh Powell.  Suns hit back with four of their own, before Swifts went on a 12-0 run as Powell continued his scoring, aided by Jamie Matthews and Harry Harwood.  A pair of scores for both Jeboda and Scott Williams then gave a very healthy 26-7 lead, before Suns pulled back to trail 28-16 at the end of the quarter.

Jeboda again opened the scoring in the second quarter, finishing strongly with dunks to open the game up at 32-16.  Constant changes in personnel limited the fluidity on offense but did allow for scores from Conor Walton and Dan Agbodza as Swifts led 46-30 at the half.

Swifts' intensity picked up in the third period, as they harried and hustled Suns into mistakes which led to fast break opportunities.  Very unselfish play saw scores from Matthews, Jeboda, Williams, Powell and Walton in a quarter in which they scored 32 points to lead 78-45 with one period remaining.

Archie Hoyi opened the scoring in the fourth with a nice finish at the basket, a score which would spark an 11-0 run to give Swifts a 91-45 lead.  The game's intensity petered out and Swifts were left with a comprehensive victory by a score of 98-57.

Jeboda led the way with a dominant performance as he scored 24 points, followed by Matthews on 20 and Powell with 17


UNDER 13 GIRLS REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

As part of a much-needed development initiative, an under 13 girls event was held including five teams from London and the East Region.  No league points or play-offs to chase, just the chance for the very young ladies to get playing experience.

Southend travelled with five 11 year olds and two eight year olds in their ranks but without their two tallest players, which meant they would be at a height disadvantage all day.  However, they would bring their skill and determination as they took on older and bigger opponents.

The fact that they came away with four very hard fought wins says much about their fortitude in learning quickly, particularly as they played all of the matches without a break.  The East Region should be commended for staging the event that will hopefully continue throughout the summer months.


U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

NEWHAM ALL STARS ACADEMY 77   SOUTHEND SWIFTS  51

This was a re-arranged game after a postponement by the home team earlier in the year, the original fixture was on a Saturday afternoon but the home team decided to put this game on at 11am on a Sunday morning which meant that 8 Swifts players were unavailable due to existing football commitments. Matt Kerridge was the only U15 starter available and the rest of the team was made up of 2 more U15’s and the rest all U14 players. Having already lost at home to this team by 20 points earlier in the season the task was a daunting one.

The hosts came out with a full court press which the younger more inexperienced Swifts players struggled to deal with resulting in many turnovers and a 0-9 run to the hosts. Matt Kerridge put Swifts on the board with a couple of free throws but a 0-6 run took NASSA further ahead and the signs were ominous for a cricket score defeat when the hosts finished the period 24-9 ahead with only Kerridge managing to score for Swifts.

After the initial shock of the first period onslaught by their opponents Swifts regained their composure somewhat and started to find some offensive cohesion with U14 players Lucas Hilsum, Isaac Smith, Jordan Sullens and Theo March all getting on the scoresheet to make the 2nd period a more even affair at 16-20. The third period proved to be even better for the visitors as their confidence grew and they virtually matched their opponents score for score with Kerridge excellent at both ends of the court. The final period was a scrappy affair dominated by fouls from the hosts which Swifts failed to take advantage of through too many missed free throws but the final scoreline of 51-77 was much better than Swifts could have expected and a credit to their fighting spirit against a much more experienced and athletic team. Top scorers for Swifts,  Kerridge 28, Sullens 6, Smith 5,


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 45   HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 128

After a very good win the previous week Swifts were hoping to put up a good performance against a strong Warriors team who had beat them in Hertfordshire by 24 points. The task would be made harder by the absence of Dan Adebayo for Swifts who has been a talisman in all Swifts wins this season.

Warriors started with a very aggressive full court press which definitely unsettled Swifts resulting several turnovers and an early 4-0 lead for the visitors until scores from Isaac Smith and Thomas Sowoolu evened things up at 5-6 after 4 minutes. A 7-0 run from Warriors was halted by more 2 more scores from Sowoolu but 4 more points from the visitors gave them a 17-9 lead at the end of the 1st period. The 2nd period was to prove a disaster for the home team as the visitors scored a very impressive 41 points in the period mainly as a result of steals and interceptions caused by their intense pressing defence which Swifts had no answer to despite their best efforts. Only Smith and Sowoolu had any offensive success with 17 points between them. The game was effectively beyond Swifts reach at 26-58 at half time.

The 3rd period was even worse for the hosts as Warriors continued with their press despite the fact that Swifts were now playing their bench players, the steals and interceptions continued and even when Swifts were back in their set defence Warriors were just as effective with their long range shooting as they were on the break scoring five 3 pointers during the game. Swifts were now down 35-94 at the end of the 3rd period with only pride to play for. Even though Warriors did occasionally reduce their press from full court to half court in the final period it was still one way traffic with Swifts unable to cope with their opponents speed, athleticism and skill.

This was a disappointing performance from Swifts but an equally outstanding performance from Warriors. One curious fact emerged from the game though, the team that pressed and often double and tripled teamed were only deemed by the referees to have committed 7 fouls in the whole game whilst the host team managed to commit 23 fouls! Top scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 27, Smith 8, Sullens 6.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72  GREENHOUSE PIONEERS SOUTH 41

A quirk of the fixture list meant these two teams met for the second time in two days, this time on Southend Swifts home court at Seevic College.   Swifts were able to give a first outing of the season to Sasha Cornell after illness.

Southend seemed much more focussed defensively as they restricted their opponents to just six first quarter points.  Charlotte Ellmore and Amber Evans combined for 14 of their team’s 27 points on the way to a 21 point lead after the opening 10 minutes.

Unsurprisingly, it was less intense in the second period as Swifts were able to give under 14 Katie Bennett some extended court time and she had four points as her team extended the margin to 44-17 at half time.

With the victory effectively completed, Swifts were able to change personnel regularly to maintain game conditioning.  It was 59-24 when captain Evans sat out for good on the way to a 62-32 advantage with one stanza remaining.  To the delight of the whole squad, Cornell was able to register eight points in the final period and with Kacey Realf contributing the same amount, Swifts closed out the contest with a very good 86-49 win.  No less than four players were in double figures, with Abbott and Evans on 14, Ellmore 13 and Realf 12.


21st & 22nd FEBRUARY 2015

UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 28  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 101

A visit to bottom of the table Newham Youngbloods was the latest venture for Southend Swifts under 14 girls in their quest to reach the end-of-season play-offs.

From four points each, Southend ran in the next 26 points that ceased the match as a contest; the defensive intensity and dexterity of ball movement again proving outstanding on the way to a 34-6 first quarter lead; Georgia Powell and Katie Bennett leading the way.

Despite a much more subdued defence, and constant changes of personnel, Swifts continued their dominance.  Indeed the younger team members, Skye Stack, Lilly Annim and 11 year old Poppy Herd, were to the fore as they combined with their team mates for runs of 7 and 12 points on the way to a 57-10 half time advantage; Molley Gould again showing her improvement at both ends of the court.

The third period actually saw Southend turn down scoring opportunities in order to keep the scoreline within sensible bounds.  Youngbloods had their best spell with six straight points but with Cheyenne Deridisi having her strongest performance of the season, and Charlotte Redhead surprising everyone with her defensive skills. Swifts still built on their lead to go into the final quarter at 75-22.

With youngest ones again on court together, the fluency returned.  Annim dominated around her own basket whilst Stack showed her ability to feed the open player and with Herd finding the basket with regularity the score mounted without there ever being a desire to go to cricket levels.  As it was, a Redhead three-pointer brought up the three figures as Swifts recorded an excellent 101-28 win.  Redhead with 20 points, Bennett 17, Powell and Stack 14, Herd with a career high 12 and Deridisi 10 led the scoring, whilst Gould and Annim both had double figure rebounds and the latter 10 blocked shots.


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CONFERENCE

EAST HERTS ROYALS 64  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73

After a tough defeat the previous week, Southend Swifts youngest boys team were hoping for better fortune on their trip to East Herts Royals despite having lost to them at home by 42 points.

A 3 point play from Isaac Smith put Swifts into an early lead but a 12-2 run by the hosts looked ominous for the visitors. However, after a sluggish start Swifts offence started to gain more fluency and accuracy, Royals struggled to contain the size of Sowoolu and the athleticism of Adebayo which combined with some excellent assists from point guard Nick Skinner resulted in a 15-7 run taking the Essex side into a 20-19 lead after 8 minutes. A final 7-3 run at the end of the first period resulted in a very pleasing 27-22 lead for Swifts against a somewhat shell shocked Royals team.

Unsurprisingly the hosts started the 2nd period with a full court pressing and trapping defence which resulted in several Swifts turnovers and brought the game back to 2 points. However, Sowoolu and Adebayo were still proving to be a real problem for the Royals who could not find a way to stop them scoring and for a while the teams just traded scores until 3 consecutive field goals from Adebayo and a couple from Callum Powell produced a 10-0 run to take Swifts into their biggest lead of the game at 43-30 in the 7th minute.  Two scores from the hosts in the final minute of the half took the scores to 43-34 in favour of the visitors.

Swifts started the 3rd period well with scores from Adebayo, Smith, Skinner and Jordan Sullens taking them into a 51-36 lead and seemingly on their way to a real turnaround victory. However, to their credit Royals never let their heads drop and battled hard to stay in the game lead by their captain and excellent shooter C. Howard who scored 20 of their team's points including four 3pointers, three of which were consecutive. The first of the three consecutive 3 pointers was a buzzer beater at the end of the 3rd period and brought the Royals back to within 8 points at 52-60 and with a vociferous crowd behind them seemed to boost their teams' confidence and Swifts knew that they would now have a tough battle on their hands in the final period.

Adebayo opened the scoring for Swifts which quietened the crowd somewhat but a field goal and another 3 pointer from Howard got the crowd buzzing again by bringing the hosts to within 5 points at 57-62 after 2 minutes. Important scores from Sowoolu and Sullens kept Swifts ahead but yet another 3 pointer from Howard brought the crowd to their feet and hope to their team. A successful free throw from each team kept things as they were until the 6th minute when scores from the excellent Adebayo and Sowoolu took Swifts on a decisive 6-0 run to establish a 73-61 lead with just 2 minutes left in the game. Royals managed 3 more points but Swifts defence held firm to record a very good away win against a good team. Swifts Top Scorers: Sowoolu 28, Adebayo 23, Smith 10


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

IPSWICH BOBCATS 38  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 52

A difficult few weeks, with two league losses and a cup final defeat, put Southend Swifts under 16 girls in very determined mood when they travelled to Ipswich, one of the teams that had inflicted a defeat on them.

The hosts held the early advantage, leading 6-3, but five straight for Swifts took them ahead.  With neither team showing any real fluency, points were at a premium and at the end of the first quarter, Southend’s lead was just 12-9.

A three-pointer from Tia Stack got Swifts scoring under way and with Zoe Willis finding her scoring touch, the margin began to increase.  But in a two minute spell, Southend made the decisive move.  Outstanding defence from Amber Evans, Charlotte Ellmore and Willis gave the visitors 10 straight points on their way to a 31-17 half time lead; Evans finally finding her range from outside the three point line.

A 5-2 run gave Ipswich some hope but Swifts responded with 10 straight as Ellmore and Willis began to dominate.  And it was 45-24 with one stanza remaining.

As always Southend took the opportunity of giving all of their players court time and although Ipswich narrowed the gap slightly, there was never really any way back for them.   A 52-38 win, whilst never pretty, was a testimony to grit and determination.  Willis led the way with 26 points but Evans, never at her most fluent offensively, produced a superb defensive effort keeping Freya Cooney to just 9 points.


U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

THURROCK HORNETS 36  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 49

After a narrow 2 point win at home, Southend  Swifts under 15 boys were anticipating a tough game at the newly formed Thurrock team's home court. The hosts opened the scoring with a field goal and a couple of successful free throws in the first minute but then failed to score again in the first period as the visitors took control and scored 15 unanswered points with Thomas Sowoolu, Dan Adebayo, Joel Bailey and Zack Littlejohn all contributing. The 2nd period was a more evenly contested one as Hornets regained their composure and the teams virtually traded scores until a field goal in the last seconds of the half saw the hosts redress the balance by 2 points to 15-24 at half time.

The 3rd period saw Swifts pull away with scores from Adebayo and Sowoolu, a 3 pointer from Bailey and 6 successful free throws, whilst the hosts could only manage 8 points in the period to leave the scores at 37-23 in favour of the visitors. With the game relatively safe Swifts took the opportunity to give their bench players some valuable court time and the final period was a closer fought affair with Hornets just outscoring Swifts by 1 point to produce a final score of 49-36. Overall, the game was disappointing for both teams as a very slippery floor made it difficult to move effectively and was the cause of many of the 47 fouls committed during the game. Swifts greater experience in the National League proved decisive in this encounter and a special mention for Swifts centre and captain, Matt Kerridge who was a tower of strength on the boards at both ends of the court winning numerous rebounds despite struggling to score himself. Top Scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 15, Adebayo 15, Bailey 8.


14th & 15th FEBRUARY 2015

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP FINAL

SEVENOAKS SUNS 68  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 45

Southend Swifts under 16 girls fell to a disappointing 68-45 defeat in the National Cup Final in Manchester.

Suns raced out to an early 8-2 lead, with Gabby Nikitinaite leading the scoring.. Southend’s Amber Evans responded with a three-pointer, but her team generally struggled to put the ball in the basket as Sevenoaks took an 18-6 advantage after the opening quarter.

Swifts’ shooting improved in the second period, with Evans sinking another couple of threes for a perfect 3/3 from behind the arc for the half. However, Nikitinaite continued her onslaught as Sevenoaks led 37-22 at the half time interval.

Things got no better for Southend in the third quarter as they failed to make a field goal until the 1.10 mark and mustered just six points for the period. A much more spirited fourth quarter gave the scoreline some semblance of closeness, but there was no real way back as Swifts fell to a heavy defeat.  Evans was outstanding with 19 points and 7 rebounds but the whole team knows they did not do themselves justice.


UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE -  SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 44  BRENTWOOD FIRE 92

Having lost by 70 points in their previous encounter at Brentwood Fire, Southend Swifts under 14 boys were hoping for an improved performance against their high flying opponents.

The visitors opened the scoring with 3 out of 4 successful free throws and a field goal before Thomas Sowoolu opened Swifts account. Swifts worked hard defensively and did well to contain their opponents to 20 points whilst on offence Nick Skinner and Sowoolu managed to keep the hosts in touch. However, had Swifts converted the 6 missed free throws the score would have been much closer than the final 11-20 at the end of the 1st period.

The 2nd period followed a very similar pattern to the first with Brentwood not quite as free scoring as they normally are thanks to good defensive work from Swifts. Scores from Dan Adebayo, Rory Burke and Skinner kept the hosts in touch at 23-37 at half time. The 3rd period would prove decisive as runs of 12-4 and 8-3 for the visitors effectively took the game away from Swifts with a scoreline of 27-59. With the game out of reach both teams took the opportunity to run their benches, which resulted in the highest scoring period for both teams with Isaac Smith scoring 7 points and Lucas Hilsum a 3 pointer  for Swifts.

The final score of 44-92 did not really reflect the improvement of the much less experienced home team, especially in a game littered with over 50 fouls which resulted in 43 free throws awarded to the hosts of which only 17 were converted!  Top scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 9, Adebayo 8, Skinner 8, Smith 7

UNDER 14 GIRLS NATIONAL LEAGUE -  SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 92  IPSWICH BOBCATS 58

After three weeks out with injury, Southend Swifts under 14 girls welcomed captain Georgia Powell back into the line-up against Ipswich Bobcats, who are just one place below them in the very competitive South 1 Conference.

Ipswich made the better start, taking a 7-4 lead after three minutes as Southend struggled for some cohesion.  But suddenly they swung into action with Katie Bennett getting the first nine points.  Powell soon found the basket and when Charlotte Redhead converted an old-fashioned three-point play it was 17-9 to the home side.  Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt also converted on the end of fast breaks and after the opening 10 minutes, it was 28-13.

Constant changes of personnel by Swifts gave the Suffolk side the chance to make up some of the deficit and it was 34-24 after three minutes.  But eight straight took back the initiative and at half time, it was 48-30.

However the opening six minutes gave an idea of the capabilities of the young Swifts.  Thirteen unanswered points, including a Redhead three-pointer, took the margin close to 30,  A long-range effort from Bennett and further good work from Molley Gould and Skye Stack kept the momentum going with the scoreboard showing 76-39 with one period remaining.

With Bennett sitting out the whole 10 minutes and Powell largely resting, Swifts played just under 13s for the majority of the period, Ipswich took advantage to score some points themselves.  But another Redhead three-pointer concluded matters as Swifts recorded an excellent 92-58 win against very spirited opponents.  Bennett with 24 points, Powell 23 and Redhead 20 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL LEAGUE -  SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 74  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 69

The South Conference of the under 18 girls league has proven to be one of the most competitive for many years.  Five of the seven teams still have play-off aspirations and two of them, Southend Swifts and Newham Youngbloods, met at Seevic College.

Southend made a good start, but Newham hit back and they led 13-11 after eight minutes, despite two three-pointers from Swifts' Megan Jones.  Jones had the next five, including a third trey, but Youngbloods finished the stronger to lead 20-18 after the opening quarter.

This time the visitors started stronger and they led 34-26 after five minutes.  Swifts battled back as captain Louise Corfield began to find the basket but the London side seemed to be in control as they held a 42-34 advantage at the midway interval.

But the half time talk seemed to change matters.  Claire Gold and Charlotte Bennett scored early and a three-pointer from Corfield and an Amber Evans lay-up made it just a three point deficit at 48-45.  Newham responded to lead by six but a great spell for Swifts, including seven from wight from the foul line, gave the hosts the initiative.  A Gold basket and a Bennett three-pointer on the buzzer completed the turnaround as Southend led 59-55 going into the final stanza.

With nerves understandably on edge, Swifts maintained the four point advantage at 63-59 after four minutes.  But successive three-pointers from Jones made it an eight point game.  Newham continued to battle and with four straight points got it back to 72-69 going into the last minute.  But a pair of Corfield foul shots iced the win that keeps Swifts well in the play-off race.  Jones with 26 points, Corfield 13 and Gold 12 leading the scoring.


31st JANUARY & 1st FEBRUARY 2015

U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE - SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 65   SOUTHEND SWIFTS  75

After a disappointing loss the previous week, Southend Swifts under 15 boys were anxious to return to winning ways against local rivals Southend Scorpions against whom they had a 15 point home win earlier in the season. Swifts started well with immediate scores from Dan Adebayo, Thomas Sowoolu and Joel Bailey to give them a 6-0 lead after 3 minutes. Two further scores from Matt Kerridge after Scorpions had registered their first points gave the visitors a promising 10-2 lead with just 4 minutes played. With Zack Littlejohn orchestrating the play at point guard, the visitors looked to have the game under control. The teams traded baskets until a 6-2 run from the hosts brought them to within 5 points at 13-18 in the 7th minute but a 6-0 run from Swifts in reply, including scores from Littlejohn and Bailey, redressed the balance and they maintained that lead until the end of the 1st period to hold a 29-19 advantage.

The 2nd period was an opportunity for Swifts to run their bench.  During that time the lead was maintained and indeed slightly improved upon with Archie Clark and Lewis Jeffrey contributing as the visitors went into half time with a 42-31 lead. The start of the 3rd period was marred for Swifts when Adebayo turned his ankle and could take no further part in the game but this seemed to spur on his teammates as they went on an 11-0 run in the first 3 minutes with scores from Kerridge, Bailey and Sowoolu, but Scorpions showed great character and fought back with a 10-2 run of their own to try and ensure Swifts’ lead did not become too great, but Swifts came back again with a 9-0 run in the last 3 minutes to establish a 21 point lead at the end of the 3rd period.

A combination of complacency from the visitors and fighting spirit from the hosts saw the game change quickly as Scorpions Sam Stone scored 9 unanswered points, including a 3 pointer in the first 4 minutes, until Kerridge put Swifts first points of the quarter on the board. This time however, Swifts did not pull away with a run of their own to redress the balance as in the previous periods. Scorpions continued to exert pressure and force turnovers to gradually bring Swifts lead down to single figures at 60-69 with just 3 minutes left. A field goal and a free throw saw Scorpions come to within 6 points at 63-69 with just 90 seconds left, they had the momentum and the crowd behind them, could they pull off a remarkable victory having been 21 points down? A score from each team kept things even but with 45 seconds left and 7 points needed the hosts had to put Swifts on the line in order to get possession.  Bailey's coolness under pressure saw him score 4 from 4 free throws in the last 20 seconds to secure a hard fought 75-65 victory after a tense and exciting finish. Swifts top scorers: Bailey 20, Sowoolu 15, Kerridge 13, Adebayo 9, Littlejohn 9.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

IPSWICH BOBCATS 49  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68

A depleted Southend Swifts under 14 girls team made the journey up the A12 to take on Ipswich Bobcats.  With captain Georgia Powell sidelined, the loss of three players on the morning of the game to illness and injury did not bode well, in meeting a team with a number of players that had gained regional selection in the previous season.

However, this seemed to make the young ladies even more determined.  Despite the majority of the team being actually under 13, Southend scored the first 10 points of the contest, keeping their opponents scoreless for 5 minutes; Charlotte Redhead and Katie Bennett sharing the spoils.  Ipswich finally broke their duck with the next four but Bennett had the next six to give her team a 16-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.

With Ipswich’s sagging man-for-man deemed legal by the match officials, the scoring rate dropped before lay-ups for Redhead and Skye Stack made it 21-8.  Lilly Annim was outstanding for Swifts, taking numerous rebounds as the hosts looked to hit back.  Their deficit reduced to 23-14 before Southend had the last six points to lead 29-14 at half time.

Scores from Bennett and Redhead took the margin over 20 and with Cheyenne Deridisi and Eleanor Butt finding their scoring touch and Molley Gould helping Annim on the boards, it was 47-21 after six minutes of the third period.  However Bennett harshly collected her 4th foul, which forced her to the bench, as Ipswich had their best spell, making a 9-2 run that saw them trail 49-30, with one quarter to play.

The momentum was certainly with the Suffolk team but a 10-3 run, with two three-pointers from 12 year old Redhead, calmed the Swifts’ nerves at 59-33.  Stack got into the long-range efforts with a three of her own and although Ipswich continued to battle, there was really no way back.  Redhead’s two three-pointers at the end, the second from just inside her opponents half, were the icing on the cake, as Southend recorded an excellent and hard-fought 68-49 victory.  Redhead with 29 points and Bennett 21 led the scoring in a very fine team effort.


U18 MEN NATIONAL LEAGUE  - SOUTH 2 DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76  SEVENOAKS SUNS 53

Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed Sevenoaks Suns to Seevic College on Saturday, looking to bounce back from the previous week's loss to NASSA.

Swifts started brightly getting out to a 12-6 lead behind four points for Declan Gould.  From this they would go on an 11-2 run with Gould grabbing four more along with four for Josh Powell.  Swifts continued their scoring spree, finishing the quarter on 30 points behind four points for Jamie Matthews and four for Paul Jeboda.  Tom Butt keeping the away side in check with his defensive prowess as they were limited to 13.

The second quarter started slowly as there were just four points scored in the first four minutes.  Swifts would rely on free throws for their next two points and after eight minutes the score was 34-19 to the home side.  Matthews helped his side get going with six points to finish off the quarter, before a last second three-point heave from Suns finished the half at 40-24.

Swifts scored the first six points of the second half as Matthews, Powell and Paul Jeboda all shared the spoils.  At 53-31 midway through the quarter Swifts were able to rotate their personnel, allowing Dan Agbodza to score four points in the remainder of the quarter as his side led 64-42 with one period remaining.

A 4-0 start to the fourth from Suns was answered by a 7-0 response from Swifts behind four points for Gould and a three-pointer for Dan Davies.  Archie Hoyi got himself on the scoresheet and Jeboda finished off the low scoring final 10 minutes with three points to give Swifts a 76-53 win.

Jeboda led the way with 19 points, followed by Gould with 14 and Matthews on 13.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH  CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65  SEVENOAKS SUNS 72

With play-off places still in the balance, Southend Swifts under 18 girls knew a victory against league leaders Sevenoaks Suns would greatly enhance their chances of post season play when the teams met at Seevic College.

The early exchanges were even as an old-fashioned three-point play from Megan Jones gave Southend a 9-8 lead after six minutes.  Suns hit back to lead by three as they dominated the offensive rebounds but Swifts hit back with a 10-3 run that put them 21-17 ahead at the end of the first quarter.  However they had lost captain Louise Corfield to the recurrence of an ankle injury, which meant she would take no further part in the game.

Two three-pointers from Charlotte Bennett gave Swifts the initiative despite showing poor form from the foul line.  The hosts could never quite make a decisive move to give themselves some breathing space and at half time they led just 39-34.

But the third quarter would be a disaster for the home side.  Failures again from the foul line gave Sevenoaks the initiative, which they gratefully took.  They scored the first 16 points as Swifts seemed unable to convert the easiest of scoring chances and found themselves trailing 52-42 going into the final stanza.

But as bad as the previous period had been, the fourth was a completely different tale.  Jones and Claire Gold both connected with two three-pointers each and suddenly there was just four points in it at 63-59 with four minutes remaining.  With excitement mounting for both participants and spectators, Suns kept their composure to close out an excellent contest.

For Swifts, Jones had 24 points and Bennett 13 but the team will certainly rue the 17 missed foul shots that would cost them so dearly.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80  COUNTY UPPER COYOTES 36

This game was certainly one of the most bizarre of the season.  County Upper had indicated earlier in the week that they would be below strength, but when they arrived matters had got worse.  They had just six players, two of whom were aged 12 and one aged 10, and were obviously concerned at the potential margin of defeat.  Indeed a cricket score could have been the order of the day.

So Southend had to act accordingly in the interest of the game as a whole.  Amber Evans and Zoe Willis were left out of the team and the remaining players instructed to allow their opponents to score and to run no fast breaks

And so the bemused spectators watched as the very young (and hugely promising) County Upper players made their lay-ups whilst Southend walked the ball down the court.  It was 20-16 at the end of the first quarter and 22 apiece four minutes into the second period before the Coyotes coach suggested that Swifts play with a little more urgency.  18 straight points gave a little more semblance to reality.

The remainder of the game was largely cosmetic, with Swifts keeping their scoring to just 20 points per shortened quarters to win 80-36.  Not quite practice for forthcoming fixtures but everyone went home largely happy.


17th & 18th JANUARY 2015

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH  CONFERENCE

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 80  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 57

Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled to London to take on a Greenhouse Pioneers team they had beaten by 23 points earlier in the season.  This division is certainly the most competitive in the country with London-based clubs benefitting from the withdrawal of Haringey Angels, with their players disseminating amongst a number of teams.  The appearance of former Haringey favourites Paris and Savannah Wilkinson would certainly make Southend’s task much tougher.

Pioneers made the stronger start, opening a 9-2 lead, but good work from Megan Jones and Louise Corfield pegged it back to 11-8.  However a 14-1 run for the home side broke and with Savannah Wilkinson particularly effective from mid-range, it was 32-16 at the end of the first quarter.

But Swifts showed their customary resolve.  Pioneers managed just one basket in the first seven minutes of the second period as the gap narrowed to just nine despite some concerns about the scoresheet, that saw Jones find herself with four fouls to the surprise of everyone in the hall.  However seven points from Paris Wilkinson wrestled the initiative back and it was 43-28 at half time although the three fouls on Savannah Wilkinson could be crucial.

The margin began to decrease and when Savannah Wilkinson committed her 4th foul, an upset looked possible.  But to the amazement of everyone present, including the player herself, the foul was given against another of the Pioneers players and Swifts could only hold the deficit at 57-42 going into the final quarter.

When another foul was given against a player nowhere near the action, Swifts knew this would not be their day.  It was undoubtedly the 51 combined points from the Wilkinson sisters that had been the deciding factor but having the opportunity to commit seven fouls certainly helped.


U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

ISLINGTON PANTHERS  67    SOUTHEND SWIFTS  38

Due to illness and injury, Southend Swifts under 15 boys travelled to London with severely depleted team to face league leaders Islington Panthers to whom they had lost by 25 points in the home fixture. The hosts got off to a great start with two 3 pointers and a field goal to establish an 8-0 lead after just 2 minutes. A score from Swifts under 14 forward Thomas Sowoolu got Swifts on the board but further scores from Panthers helped maintain their advantage until Sowoolu found the basket again with 4 more points to bring Swifts to within 4 at 6-10 after 5 minutes. A 6-1 run from the hosts extended their lead to 11 points with just over a minute left in the first period but a field goal and a 3 pointer from Joel Bailey in the last 30 seconds helped reduce the deficit to 6 points and restore some confidence.

A combination of excellent defence and early scores from Bailey, Sowoolu and Matt Kerridge took Swifts on an 8-2 run to bring them level at 20-20 after 4 minutes of the 2nd period but this brought about a renewed effort from the hosts.  Their tall athletic players started to establish a dominance of the boards at both ends which took them on 10-2 run to finish the first half with a 30-22 lead. From Swifts point of view this was a respectable scoreline and should have given them hope of taking their opponents closer than in the first encounter.

However, a switch to a zone defence by the hosts proved a smart move as Swifts struggled to score from outside and also failed to get any offensive rebounds thus allowing their opponents to fast break effectively.  The ensuing 14-2 run in the first 6 minutes ended any hope of a recovery; Swifts only scored 3 points in the 3rd period to their opponents 19 as they just couldn't penetrate Panthers zone or hit anything from outside. To their credit the visitors didn't give up and battled hard to try and get back into the game and at last managed to find the basket on a more regular basis with young Thomas Sowoolu doing a fine job on offence against his older and more experienced opponents. Panthers won the final period by 18-13 to give a final score of 67-38 in their favour. A disappointing result for Swifts but considering their depleted squad not too bad. Top scorers:  Sowoolu 14, Bailey 10,


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH  1 CONFERENCE

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 36  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70

So now it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 16 girls to do battle with London Greenhouse Pioneers.  Much to their surprise Savannah Wilkinson, the most dominant under 16 player in the country, would make her first appearance in this league and this would certainly change the dynamic of the game.

At 6-4 to the hosts, an upset seemed possible, but Southend had other ideas.  Charlotte Ellmore and captain Amber Evans combined beautifully for some stunning scores and with Kacey Realf dominating the rebounds, a 13-2 run took the Essex side 17-8 ahead at the first interval.

Seven straight for Evans was just the start needed and five from Zoe Willis made it 29-12, with Wilkinson the only real scoring threat.  Carlie Abbott came in to give scoring energy and at half time it was 35-17.

To make absolutely sure of the victory, Willis and Ellmore shared the first 12 points as the lead went to 30, with Willis scoring at will.  Evans’ defence on Wilkinson was a superb effort with the lead at 59-30 going into the final period.

A three-pointer and a close-range effort from Evans concluded her day as she sat down to prolonged applause.  The scoring rate unsurprisingly dropped with Swifts recording an excellent 70-36 win with Willis on 31, Evans 17 and Ellmore 12, whilst Wilkinson had 23 for Pioneers.


U18 MEN NATIONAL LEAGUE  - SOUTH 2 DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71  GREENWICH TITANS 65

Southend Swifts under 18 Men welcomed second place Greenwich Titans to Seevic College on Saturday, looking to avenge the defeat they suffered in the first game of the season.

The game started in free scoring fashion as Titans took an early 11-6 lead, but the hosts fought back through scores from Josh Powell, Dec Gould and Paul Jeboda to narrow the deficit to 13-12.  The visitors regrouped to go on a 11-2 run to break the game open at 24-14, however Swifts trimmed the lead margin to single figures, trailing 27-21 - Jeboda scoring the quarter's final four points.

The second period started at a much slower tempo, with it taking two minutes for the first points to be recorded through Swifts' Powell.  Titans responded with a basket of their own, before Swifts scored four points from the free throw line as they battled their way to the basket to narrow their guests' lead at 29-27.  Titans again stretched the lead to 33-29, but from this position Swifts would execute well on offence and step up their play on defence to take their first lead of the contest at 35-33, with Dan Davies, Harry Harwood and Jamie Matthews finding their way onto the scoresheet.  However, they could not maintain this lead and trailed 38-37 at the half.

A Powell score was followed up by a Davies three-pointer to open the second half, providing Swifts with a 42-38 lead.  Again Titans responded, taking a lead of their own at 44-42, before Scott Williams nailed a three from the corner.  Williams would again make a three to level the scores at 48-48, before his side put together a 9-2 run that finished with another Williams trey to stand the score at 57-50 in favour of the home side.  A Titans free throw score left Swifts with a 57-51 lead with one quarter remaining.

To the dismay of the crowd, Swifts allowed themselves to become carried away on offence and provide their opponents with fast break opportunities, which they duly to converted to take a 61-57 lead.  But Swifts were not done.  They showed the type of determination and desire to win that at times has been missing in close fixtures.  An 11-3 run behind scores for Davies, Jeboda and Powell took them back in front at 70-64 with a minute remaining.  They were then able to avoid any late dramas with solid defensive play and rebounding to take a hard earned victory 71-65.

Jeboda led the way with 21 points, followed by Powell with 13 and Davies on 11.


UNDER 16 NATIONAL CUP – SEMI FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70  HATFIELD FLIERS 39

Southend Swifts under 16 girls looked to maintain their unbeaten record when they entertained Hatfield Fliers in the semi final of the national cup.  Fliers are second in the North Division with 7 wins from 8 games played and have already recorded two wins against Sheffield Hatters so Southend knew they were in for the toughest of tasks.

But the intent was there from the start.  Scores from Amber Evans, Zoe Willis and Kacey Realf created the momentum and despite a Hatfield reply, a 14-2 run made it 20-4 after six minutes; Evans already with 11 and the margin stayed the same at 24-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Willis had the first four points as Swifts rotated their line-up.  Chelsea Locke made a tough inside score and the energy of Tia Stack brought her an old-fashioned three-point play as she converted off a steal.  But on the next defensive set, she fell heavily onto her wrist, leading the diminutive point guard to take no further part in the game.  Locke’s accuracy from the foul line took the hosts to a 37-13 half time lead; a superb team defensive effort against a team averaging 61 points a game.

Six straight points, with four from Charlotte Ellmore, made sure there would be no comeback, with all 11 players seeing court time.  Willis continued to find the basket from all angles and with Evans again dominant on the boards, it was 58-27 going into the final stanza.  Naturally the intensity dropped with a largely year 10 team on the court.  The final margin of 70-39 was a testimony to the all round strength of Swifts against very good opponents.  Willis with 24 points and Evans 17 leading the scoring.


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE  EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 42  IPSWICH TOMCATS 73

Having beaten Ipswich away by one point in overtime in their first ever game together, Southend Swifts under 14 boys knew their opponents would be out for revenge in this return fixture. Unfortunately Swifts playing strength was weakened by the unavailability of some of their more experienced players, in particular Dan Adebayo who was so influential in the victory at Ipswich. However, Swifts would look upon this as an opportunity to give some of their less experienced players some valuable court time against strong opposition.

Right from the tip off, Ipswich pressured Swifts all over the court and as a result stole the ball on numerous occasions to establish a 13-4 lead after 6 minutes. Only Theo March and Jamie Rambaut could find the basket for Swifts and after one more score from March, Ipswich went on another decisive run to finish the first period with a 22-6 lead. Swifts were delighted to see Thomas Sowoolu arrive midway through the 2nd period having being delayed getting to the game, his presence was immediately felt at both ends of the court and enabled the hosts to stem the visitors scoring somewhat and increase their own. Despite scores from March and Sowoolu and 6 consecutive from Jordan Sullens to finish the half, Swifts were still left with a mountain to climb at 18-39.

Swifts started the 3rd period with an encouraging 6-2 run with Nick Skinner at last finding the basket after his enforced lay off with a back injury, Isaac Smith also found the basket after a scoreless first half. The rest of the period was relatively even with both teams trading runs which gave Swifts their best period of the game just losing it 14-15. Despite more scores from Sullens, Sowoolu and March in the final quarter the hosts couldn't match their opponents outstanding shooting skills, but to their credit they battled hard and never gave up, eventually losing 42-73.

Swifts Top scorers: Sowoolu 15, March 8, Sullens 8, Smith 5


10th & 11th JANUARY 2015

U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 DIVISION

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 58   SOUTHEND SWIFTS  73

In the first of the return fixtures this season, Southend Swifts under 15 boys faced Newham Youngbloods against whom they had a narrow 3 point win at home. With only 5 of their regular players boys available for this game, Southend had to draft in players from their under 14 squad and were understandably concerned that this would be a game their hosts would see as a perfect opportunity to gain revenge.

Youngbloods scored straight from the tip off with an 'and one' but Joel Bailey and Zack Littlejohn replied with 10 points between them to establish a 10-7 lead in the 7th minute. However a 7-3 run from the hosts saw them take a 14-13 lead at the end of the 1st period. In the absence of 6'7" Jacob Thorne, under 14 player Dan Adebayo had to play the forward role and his superb athleticism saw him take many rebounds on defence and combine well with fellow forward Matt Kerridge to score the first 4 points of the 2nd period. The teams traded scores until the 7th minute when Swifts went on an 11- 4 run with scores from Thomas Sowoolu, Kerridge and Adebayo to establish a 36-28 lead at half time. This scoreline was a little flattering to the visitors as Youngbloods only scored one of nine free throws during this period and both Kerridge and Adebayo were on 4 fouls which definitely favoured the hosts and meant that Swifts would have to play at their best to secure the victory.

In order to try and protect their players in foul trouble Swifts switched to a zone defence which proved to be effective as their opponents struggled to score from distance. Sowoolu opened the scoring for Swifts in the 3rd period followed by two foul shots from Bailey but a 3 pointer off the glass and two baskets from Youngbloods saw the deficit reduced to just 6 points. Consecutive field goals and two foul shots from Bailey took the lead to 10 points but scores from the hosts kept them in touch until 5 consecutive points from Kerridge to finish the 3rd period extended Swifts lead to 12 points at 51-39.

The final period was quite remarkable as the teams quite literally traded baskets until the 7th minute, with only another 3 pointer off the glass to open the scoring for Youngbloods the difference as the lead for Swifts was reduced to 11 points. However, Youngbloods would not give up and a 4-2 run saw them get to within 9 points but some resilient defence from Swifts in the last two minutes prevented any further scores whilst Adebayo, Kerridge and Littlejohn all scored to give the visitors a very satisfying and probably unexpected 73-58 victory. This win takes Swifts to 3rd in the tough South 1 Division on equal points with the two teams ahead but with two games in hand. Special mention for guard Zack Littlejohn who had his best ever game for the club, playing 40 minutes and working tirelessly at both ends of the court. Top scorers: Kerridge 20, Bailey 18, Adebayo 13, Littlejohn 10, Sowoolu 10.


U18 MEN NATIONAL LEAGUE  - SOUTH 2 DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62  BRENTWOOD FIRE 69 (AFTER OVERTIME)

Southend Swifts under 18 men had their first fixture for a number of weeks, welcoming Brentwood Fire to Seevic on Saturday.

A scrappy opening to the game left the visitors up 6-4 after five minutes, before Swifts rallied with an 11-3 run to put them 15-9 up - scores coming from Dec Gould, Dan Davies and Scott Williams.  The hosts closed out the quarter to lead 22-15, putting together incisive fast breaks which were finished off around the basket.

The second quarter began in similar unstructured fashion, as the teams traded baskets to a 30-21 advantage for the hosts - Jamie Matthews and Archie Hoyi made it onto the scoresheet with Gould.  Swifts would close out the quarter by extending their lead to 41-29 at the half.

But all of the hard work of the previous 20 minutes would be undone in the next 10.  Time and again Swifts would hand the ball to their opponents with errant and foolish passes, which Fire gladly turned into baskets.  The visitors would take the quarter 17-5 to level the contest at 46-46 with one period remaining.

Swifts regained some sense of composure in the final quarter, as they recovered from a four point deficit to be 59-57 in front late on; Paul Jeboda exerting his considerable size and athleticism to notch eight points in the process.  Fire would score the next basket, but with 15 seconds left on the game clock the ball was with Swifts.  However, they could not execute the play to get the shot they wanted and a desperate attempt from Josh Powell hit the rim but bounced out as time expired.

With the momentum firmly with Brentwood, they rattled off the first seven points of the overtime period, effectively ending the game as a contest.  They would go on to take the win 69-62.

Jeboda led the way with 17 points, followed by Gould with 15 and Matthews with 9.


3rd & 4th DECEMBER 2014

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

LONDON THUNDER LEWISHAM 42  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84

The first club game of the second half of the season, saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls travel to South London to take on Lewisham Thunder.  Southend knew they would need to get into their stride as quickly as possible if they are to reach the end of season play-offs.

Swifts made a good start. With Zoe Willis and Charlotte Bennett scoring six apiece as their team led 14-2 after seven minutes and although Thunder hit back with six straight, Swifts lead was 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.  Bethany Wheeler came in to register two quick scores and a three-pointer from Amber Evans took the lead to 20.  Megan Jones had successive long-range efforts and at half time, the lead was 42-14.

The third period was much more subdued as both teams seemed to be feeling the effects of the Christmas break.  Claire Gold began to find her range for Southend as they gently moved out to 54-24 with one quarter to play.  After conceding the first four points, Swifts finally moved into third gear.  Points production came from the whole squad as they recorded an 84-42 win to keep themselves in second place in the league table, although they have played more games than the teams around them.  Gold with 21 points, Bennett 15 and Evans 13 leading the scoring.


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE - EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 90   BARKING & DAGENHAM THUNDER  55

With Southend Swifts youngest boys team occupying an impressive 3rd place in the East Conference after a shock victory against the undefeated league leaders Bucks Hornets in their previous game, they could approach their first game of 2015 against winless Barking & Dagenham Thunder with considerable confidence. Swifts took the opportunity to give Harry Belton his debut game and also to give many of their bench players some valuable court time, but at the start put out their normal starting five.   Their superiority showed immediately against their younger and less experienced opponents as, without using a pressing defence, they streaked into a 14-2 lead after just 3 minutes, with Dan Adebayo and Thomas Sowoolu virtually unstoppable. With a 22-4 lead after 6 minutes, the starters were rested and unsurprisingly the tempo and fluency of the Swifts offence lessened and Thunder outscored their hosts 7-4 in the last 4 minutes to reduce the deficit to 11-26 at the end of the 1st period.

With their confidence partially restored, the visitors went on a 5-2 run before Swifts recovered their composure to go on a 10-0 run of their own led by point guard Jordan Sullens taking over the role from Nick Skinner, still out with a back injury. Thunder responded really well with an 8-0 run and the teams traded baskets to finish the half at 42-27 to the hosts.

The visitors started the 2nd half with a 5-4 run before Swifts went on a match winning 20-0 run with Isaac Smith, Adebayo and Sowoolu prominent. The start of the final period saw Swifts with a 70-35 lead and their bench players having extended court time which resulted in the two teams sharing the scoring at 20-20 for the period with good contributions from Theo March and Rory Burke in particular. The final score of 90-55 to Swifts was a fair reflection of Swifts relative dominance and Thunder's commendable fighting spirit. Leading Scorers for Swifts: Adebayo 22, Sowoolu 20, Sullens 12, Burke 11, Smith 8 and March 6.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 111  NORFOLK ICENI 16

When these two teams met earlier in the season, the result was a 97 point win for Southend.  This game was little better in terms of competitiveness, as Swifts again recorded an emphatic victory.

With a number of less experienced players unavailable due to illness, Swifts were forced to field a stronger line-up that was really needed and the early exchanges showed the gulf between the two teams; the home side leading 36-2 at the end of the first quarter.  The remainder of the game was set as a target for the less experienced players to all record 15 personal points.  This was achieved with some typical unselfish play as Swifts ended with a 111-16 win, with Skye Stack on 20 points, Tegan Jackson and Lilly Annim with 18 and Molley Gould 15.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH  CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72  PECKHAM PRIDE 61

The final game of the weekend saw the third match-up of the season between Southend Swifts under 18 girls and Peckham Pride.  Southend had recorded a narrow away victory in the league earlier in the season whilst the Londoners had turned the tables in the cup quarter final in December.

Peckham made the stronger start, scoring the first six points, before Swifts replied with a 10-0 run; Zoe Willis and Louise Corfield sharing the scoring load.  Pride regained the lead with seven straight before a Megan Jones three-pointer tied the game at 15 after eight minutes.  The London side had the better of the final exchanges to lead 19-17 at the first interval.

An 8-2 spell for the visitors looked like it had given them a decisive advantage but Swifts maintained their composure and some outstanding defensive work kept the very athletic Peckham players away from the basket.  Willis, despite the onset of flu, and Jones kept the scoreboard moving and when Claire Gold got on the end of a fast break, the scores were tied at 31.  Peckham had the next basket but a 9-0 run over the remainder of the period saw Swifts go into the locker room with a 40-33 lead.

Southend maintained their defensive intensity as Corfield went to work at the offensive end and a three-pointer from Emma Pallett took the lead to 10 at 47-37.  But Peckham are fighters and they reduced the deficit to 49-45 with two minutes to play.  But again Southend stood strong and seven unanswered points gave them a 56-45 lead going into the final stanza.

With neither side scoring for almost three minutes, Peckham took the initiative to reduce the deficit to seven.  Jones had an old-fashioned three-point play but despite a fast break score from Charlotte Bennett, it was 63-57 and the nerves on edge for both teams.  But the ailing Willis came up with two big plays and late scores from Corfield and Jones closed out the end of an excellent contest that saw Swifts record a very hard-earned 72-61 win.  Willis with 24 points, Corfield 16 and Jones 14 led the scoring on what was another excellent team performance.


13th & 14th DECEMBER 2014

UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

OAKLANDS COLLEGE WOLVES 33  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85

After the disappointment of suffering their first defeat of the season the previous week, Southend Swifts under 14 girls looked to get back on their winning ways when they travelled to St Albans to take on Oaklands College Wolves.  The Hertfordshire team have shown considerable improvement, with players in England squads and went into the game with three wins from their seven games.

Southend made an unusually tentative start, trailing 4-3 after three minutes, before they sprang into action.  Tenacious defence forced numerous turnovers and seemingly in an instant the ball was at the other end of the court and in the basket.  Katie Bennett, Charlotte Redhead and captain Georgia Powell led the way as 29 straight points in six minutes settled the match as a contest; the score standing at 35-8 at the end of the first quarter, Powell already with 15 points.

Eleanor Butt soon found her scoring touch and a three-pointer from Redhead took the lead to 30.  Much more significant was the contribution of Lilly Annim and Molley Gould, whose rebound domination against highly touted opponents was the platform for the continuing superiority.  Bennett continued to create both for her team mates and herself and at half time, the lead was 59-19.

As always, Swifts take the opportunity to give all of their players court time rather than run up a cricket score, with the second half a much more subdued affair.  The final five minutes again saw just under 13s on court, who again showed their potential, as they closed out a comfortable 85-33 win.  Powell with a season high 35 points, Bennett 19 and Redhead 17 leading the scoring.


U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 41  BUCKS HORNETS  34

After three successive defeats, Southend Swifts youngest boys team faced the daunting prospect of playing the unbeaten league leaders Bucks Hornets on Saturday at SEEVIC. The return of Dan Adebayo, who was unable to play in the defeats, was a definite boost for the team but the loss of influential point guard Nick Skinner with a back injury sustained in the previous game was a real loss.

Swifts made the better start with Adebayo getting a steal and a resultant score in the first 10 seconds followed by another steal and score 30 seconds later to give the hosts an unexpected 4-0 lead in less than a minute! Hornets replied but scores from Isaac Smith and Thomas Sowoolu took Swifts into an 8-2 lead after 4 minutes. The visitors did start to find the basket but Swifts continued to score as well with Adebayo, Smith and Sowoolu prominent to give them a surprising 17-11 lead at the end of the first period.

Unsurprisingly, the visitors fought back hard and reduced the deficit to 2 points after four minutes but Swifts kept their composure working very hard defensively to try and prevent their opponents getting any easy baskets, which they succeeded in doing by restricting them to just 8 points in the period! Although only scoring 7 themselves, their defensive efforts were rewarded with a very creditable 24-19 lead at half time.

Another Adebayo steal and a short range jump shot from Theo March in the first minute of the 3rd period took Swifts even further ahead and despite Hornets full court press, the hosts kept calm and passed the ball well to enable Adebayo, Smith and Sowoolu to continue scoring. Tough defence from Swifts put Hornets on the line 14 times in this period from which they scored 7 and Swifts just sneaked ahead 12-11 in scoring resulting a 36-30 lead going into the final quarter.

Surely the bubble would burst now and Hornets would blow their lowly opponents away? Nothing doing, in a defence dominated period, both teams struggled to score although Hornets managed to score 3 out of 4 free throws.  This brought them to within 3 points after 4 minutes until an Alex Willmore break away and a Smith free throw restored the lead to 6 points with 1 minute to go. Hornets had 4 more free throws to give them a chance to get within striking distance but could only manage to score 1 out of the 3 and then with just seconds to go Dan Adebayo finished as he had started, with a steal and resultant score to give Swifts a remarkable 7 point win!

Top scorers for Swifts: Adebayo 14, Smith 11, Sowoolu 10.


U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE  SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 64  HACKNEY WHITE HEAT  46


Despite having beaten their opponents earlier in the season, Southend Swifts under 15 boys knew they would be in for a tough game.  A 50+ point loss in the previous game was bound to affect their confidence but they were back to a full strength squad for the first time in many weeks so perhaps a much needed win was on the cards.


Swifts made a great start with Jacob Thorne dominating proceedings by scoring the first 7 points of the game, then a 3 pointer from Joel Bailey saw the hosts 10-2 up after 5 minutes. Matt Kerridge joined in the scoring with Thorne and despite some resistance from the visitors, Swifts were 18-7 ahead with a minute to go in the first period. A loss of defensive concentration allowed Hackney to score 5 points in the last 30 seconds to make it a more respectable 18-12 scoreline.


A complete change of personnel by Swifts saw a much smaller Swifts line up take the floor in the 2nd period but good work from Archie Clark, Alex Skingle and Bailey kept the scoreboard moving and the hosts were able to extend their lead to 33-18 after 8 minutes. A 7-4 run from the visitors in the last 2 minutes just about kept them in touch at 25-36.


With scores from Thorne, Kerridge, Lewis Jeffery and a 3 pointer from Zack Littlejohn, Swifts went on a 13-2 run to re-establish a good lead at 49-27 after 5 minutes. However, to their credit, Hackney would not lie down and an 11-2 run of their own resulted in a 38-51 scoreline at the end of the 3rd period and a chance of a comeback if Swifts should lose concentration. In fact, Swifts made a great start with Kerridge, Thorne and Skingle dominant on the boards at both ends of the court and a 13-2 run put paid to any chance of surprise turnaround in the outcome of the game. Hackney did finish with a spirited press and managed to stop Swifts scoring at all in the last 5 minutes of the game but it was too late and Swifts ran out relatively comfortable winners 64-46. Top scorers for Swifts: Thorne 17, Kerridge 14, Skingle 10, Bailey 9


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH  CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84  LONDON THUNDER LEWISHAM 40

After an outstanding start to the season, Southend Swifts under 18 girls have seen a drop in fortunes that has led to a number of defeats.  Despite being below full strength, they looked to return to form with the visit of London Thunder to Seevic College.

Despite early three-pointers from Megan Jones and Amber Evans, Swifts led just 7-6 after four minutes.  But a time-out by Thunder was actually the impetus Southend needed.  A pair of Jones three-pointers triggered a 14-0 run that certainly renewed confidence.  Claire Gold started to produce at both ends of the court and when Jones scored again from long range, it was 24-10 after the opening 10 minutes.

The scoring rate continued with Charlotte Bennett showing her usual huge energy at both ends of the court.  Bethany Wheeler got on the end of some excellent passes and soon the lead was over 20 and a Gold three-pointer taking it to 47-22 at half time.

The third period again saw some remarkable shooting from Jones, who scored four more three-pointers, taking her to eight in the game.  Zoe Willis also began to find space around the basket and with one period remaining it was 73-33.

The final quarter was much more subdued as Thunder continued to battle.  A final scoreline of 84-40 should send Swifts into the Christmas break with renewed confidence.  Jones with 35 points and Gold 15 leading the scoring.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68  IPSWICH BOBCATS 54

A clash between the two remaining unbeaten teams in the South 1 conference promised much as Southend Swifts under 16 girls took on Ipswich Bobcats.  Southend had recorded a very hard-earned win when the teams met in the cup earlier in the season.

There was nothing in it at the start, with the teams tied at six after four minutes before Swifts sprung into action.  Six points from the very rapidly improving Rhian Simpson was followed by a three-pointer from Charlotte Ellmore and seven points from Zoe Willis made it 24-12.  Some debateable officiating decisions left both captains, Swifts Amber Evans and Ipswich’s Freya Cooney, on three fouls each and this seemed to affect the home side more as they conceded the last three baskets to lead just 24-18 at the first break.

Ipswich’s change to a zone defence to protect Cooney kept Swifts away from the basket with their shooting surprisingly wayward.  They managed just seven points in the quarter and with Ipswich having the final five points, the home side’s half time lead stood at just 31-30.

But whatever was said during the half time interval had the desired effect.  A three-pointer from Georgia Powell was followed by a 9-2 run that took Swifts 43-32.  The loss of Cooney to five fouls obviously had a major effect on Bobcats and with Willis in superb form, particularly from mid-range, the lead stayed in double digits.  Evans and Ellmore chipped in again and with one stanza remaining, the Essex side led 54-40.

After Ipswich had the first score, a 12-0 run for Southend took the game out of sight at 66-42.  With Willis leaving the game to prolonged applause, the visitors had the consolation of a 12-2 run, but there was no way back as Swifts finished with a very fine 68-54 win.  Willis with 27 and the 14 year old Ellmore on 20 led the scoring, but again this was a fine team effort.


6th & 7th DECEMBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 78  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 51

This third meeting of the season between these two teams was always going to be a tough encounter for Southend Swifts under 18 girls as Newham looked for revenge after losing the first two games.

A good start for Southend saw them take a 5-1 lead, with Megan Jones contributing all of the points, but Newham hit back with an 11-0 run to lead by seven.  Swifts were spurning relatively easy scoring chances and a 14-6 run for Youngbloods gave them a 26-12 first quarter lead despite 4 points from Charlotte Bennett.

A better start for the visitors saw Zoe Willis and Louise Corfield reduce the deficit but six straight for the home side gave them back the initiative.  Poor foul shooting certainly contributed to the difficulties as Newham held a 46-23 half time lead.

The third quarter saw a much more spirited performance from Southend, bringing the deficit to 18 despite again showing poor form from the foul line.  However, determined play from Newham, and some erratic officiating, changed the momentum and it was 62-39 going into the final period.

The hosts were determined to take a major win at 72-41 but Southend kept their resolve despite falling to a disappointing 78-51 defeat, with Jones on 15 points and Willis 14 the only major scorers.

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 71  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 45

After major traffic problems, Southend Swifts under 14 boys just managed to arrive in time for their game at Hertfordshire Warriors, a team just above them in league.  Swifts knew they would be in for a tough game as Warriors had beaten East Herts Royals, the team that had inflicted a 40 point defeat on them the previous week.

Surprisingly Swifts started the game well, matching their opponents virtually score for score in the first period to trail by just 5 points at the break, thanks mainly to the scoring efforts of Thomas Sowoolu who scored 12 out of his team's 18 points and Nick Skinner who provided numerous assists.  The 2nd period continued in a similar vein for the first few minutes until Sowoolu had to sit out with a thigh injury, Isaac Smith worked hard to try to maintain Swifts scoring but struggled against Warriors pressing defence.  Swifts playmaker Skinner then struggled with a back injury and without these two key players, the team's scoring dried up as they only managed 6 points in the period to find themselves 24-35 down at half time.

Although Warriors scored first after the break, Swifts went on a 7-0 run thanks again to 5 points from Sowoolu who had recovered sufficiently to get back on court plus a score from Lucas Hilsum.  This brought Swifts to within 5 points of their opponents but when Sowoolu had to sit out again to rest his injury, Warriors took full advantage with an 11-2 run to establish a 55-37 lead at the end of the 3rd period.  In the 4th period, Sowoolu managed another few minutes and scored 4 points before having to sit out again, Nick Skinner had to sit out altogether, and with Isaac Smith fouling out, all of which contributed to Swifts struggling to find the basket again and thus taking away any chance of getting back in the game.  The final score of 71-45 was well deserved by Herts but on another day and at full strength, Swifts could have been much closer to their more experienced opponents.  Top scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 26, Smith 9.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 51  HARINGEY ANGELS 67

The battle between the two unbeaten teams in the under 14 league promised to be a close affair.  Southend Swifts went into the game without Katie Bennett, whilst Haringey Angels were at full strength.

Haringey made the better start, scoring the first seven points, as the hosts went scoreless for four minutes.  However, Swifts recovered and with Charlotte Redhead and captain Georgia Powell taking the scoring load, they took the lead at 12-11 after eight minutes.  Angels, led by the excellent Teresa Da Silva.  Went three head but a late score from Powell made it 15-14 at the end of the opening 10 minutes.

The Londoners again started strongly and successive three-pointers from Da Silva took her team 11 head and seemingly on their way to a comfortable victory.  But the young Swifts showed remarkable strength.  Eleanor Butt played some outstanding defence, Lilly Annim rebounded well at both ends and Powell and Redhead continued to find the basket.  An 8-2 run over the final three minutes gave renewed hope as Swifts trailed just 34-31 at half time.

But the start of the third quarter would see the crucial passage of play.  Another strong spell for Haringey took them 45-33 ahead.  A 6-2 run gave hope of another recovery for Southend, but seven straight for Angels meant they kept the initiative to lead 54-41 going into the final quarter.

Another 6-2 run for Swifts reduced the deficit to just 10 as the spectators became more animated.  However, on the day, Swifts did not have enough firepower as they fell to a 67-51 defeat despite 24 points from Redhead and 17 from Powell.

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP – QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS SOUTH 62

Southend Swifts under 16 girls had home court advantage when they took on London Greenhouse Pioneers South at Seevic College.  Southend were without captain Amber Evans and Grace Crook and with Zoe Willis not at 100%, this was likely to be a difficult task.

But the opening seven minutes would show a different situation.  Southend came out with great energy to take a 21-4 lead that should have been the start of a very comprehensive victory.  But Pioneers, principally through the outstanding Sarah Bello, fought back and at the end of the opening quarter, the lead was just 24-13.

When this extended to 31-16 Swifts should have forged ahead but a 13-2 run, with nine from Bello, reduced the margin to just four, with only the scoring of under 14 captain Georgia Powell keeping Swifts in from as they led just 39-34 at half time.

But whatever was said during the half time interval had a huge effect.  With Carlie Abbott finally showing her true form after a prolonged injury and Rhian Simpson working well at both ends of the court, the lead went to 50-36 after six minutes.  The return of Willis gave a further boost and suddenly it was 62-44 with one period remaining.

A 9-0 run put the game beyond doubt and at 77-52 Willis and Simpson sat out for good.  Pioneers had the final 10 points but there was no way back, as Southend moved into the semi final with a 77-62 win.  Willis with 21 points, Powell 17 and Simpson 15 leading the way.

UNDER 15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 46   BRENTWOOD FIRE 103

After a couple of games with quite a few players missing, Southend Swifts under 15 boys were pleased to get back to near full strength for this very difficult game against National Champions Brentwood Fire.

Swifts made a disappointing start by conceding 14 unanswered points in the first 5 minutes until Matt Kerridge made a 3 point play to get them started.  This score gave the hosts the confidence boost they needed and they outscored their illustrious opponents 12-6 in the remainder of the first period to trail a respectable 12-20 at the break.

Fire started the 2nd period with a 7-0 run but Swifts responded with a 9-0 run of their own with scores from Kerridge, Adam Liddell and Archie Clark to bring them to within 6 points but Swifts struggled against Fire's very aggressive pressing defence resulting in numerous steals and turnovers, being turned into scores to take the visitor's tally virtually out of sight at 54-30 by half time.

Another excellent start from Fire took them on a 12-2 run and into an unassailable lead.  To their credit, Swifts never gave up but continued to struggle against the press despite scores from Liddell, Jacob Thorne and Zack Littlejohn.  The 77-41 score at the end of the 3rd period was predictable but quite respectable considering the pedigree of the opposition, however the 4th period was very disappointing for the home team as they could only manage 5 points in the entire period whilst allowing their opponents to score 36.  A win was never on the cards but the 4th period capitulation was a great disappointment and Swifts will be looking to get back to winning ways against Hackney next weekend.  Top Scorers for Swifts: Kerridge 11, Liddell 11, Thorne 7, Littlejohn 6, Clark 6.

UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP – QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 51  PECKHAM PRIDE 62

After a disappointing run of defeats, Southend Swifts under 18 looked to get back on winning ways with a quarter final tie against Peckham Pride.  The teams had played a very exciting encounter early in the season, so similar fare was looked forward to.

Defences were very much to the fore, with with the scores tied at seven after five minutes.  Swifts captain Louise Corfield was very active around the basket and she had her team’s final six points as they trailed just 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Points were certainly at a premium with just seven scored in the opening five minutes as Southend led 18-17.  Pride had the next six but scores from Megan Jones and Zoe Willis took it to a one point game at half time.

The teams continued to trade baskets.  Charlotte Bennett showed huge energy over the whole court and she tied the game at 29 midway through the third quarter.  Peckham had the next five but scores from Jones and Bennett made it parity again at 36 before Swifts got their noses in front at 39-38 going into the final stanza.

But the South London side made a strong start, with a 9-2 run taking them 47-41 ahead.  After six minutes, the hosts had managed just five points as they trailed 50-44.  Suddenly Peckham’s Ire Ozzy-Momodu began to dominate proceedings and hers was the crucial contribution as her team moved into the semi finals with a 62-51 win in a very good contest.  For Swifts, the leading points scorers were Corfield with 14 points, Bennett 12 and Jones 10.


29th & 30th NOVEMBER 2014

UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

HARINGEY ANGELS 52  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 58

Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled into London early on Saturday morning to take on the club that are the benchmark for girls basketball, Haringey Angels.  Matches between the two teams are always a highlight of the season with huge respect between players, coaches and spectators and with games played in an exemplary manner.  This second match up of the season, at under 16 level, was expected to be of the highest level with Southend having won the first encounter by five points.

Haringey had the better of the opening exchanges as they scored the first five points as Southend went scoreless for the first three minutes.  Captain Amber Evans got the scoreboard moving with a trademark three-pointer and four points from Zoe Willis and a Charlotte Ellmore lay-up took Swifts 10-7 up after seven minutes.    The visitors defence was holding firm and despite some disappointing foul shooting, the lead was 15-10 at the end of the first quarter.

After a Grace Crook basket extended the lead, Haringey again showed why they are perennial champions.  They scored 10 straight points to lead by three midway through the second period.  The loss of Crook to a knee injury looked ominous, but a time-out and re-group calmed the nerves and two baskets from Willis, bookends of 100% foul shooting from Evans and Ellmore took Swifts six ahead.  Angels had the next three before a late score from the increasingly dominant Kacey Realf made it 28-23 at half time.

Again the hosts started strongly and with Evans harshly adjudged to have collected her 4th foul, there needed to be some defensive re-alignment.  Evans and a three-pointer from Ellmore increased the margin to 35-28 but the Londoners brought it back to three.  Amelia Wilson and Tia Stack both provided huge defensive energy and with Willis finding her touch from the foul line, it was 42-32 going into the final quarter.

With Realf requiring treatment for a cut arm and Evans and Crook both on the bench, it was a very small line-up that took the court.  But the resolve and determination were huge.  Ellmore, Stack and Willis made their way to the basket and the re-introduction of Realf restored some equilibrium.  An offensive rebound and score from Chelsea Locke took the margin to 54-42 with four minutes to play.  Neither side could score for two minutes before Angels’ excellent Monique Esbrand threatened to take the game over for her team.  But Realf from close range after some excellent ball-movement and a steal and score from Stack settled matters despite two late replies gave Southend an outstanding 58-52 victory in the toughest of places.  Willis with 21 points, Ellmore 13 and Evans 11 leading the scoring.


NATIONAL LEAGUE U14 BOYS - EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 47  EAST HERTS ROYALS  89

Following their first defeat in the previous game, Southend Swifts under 14 boys were hoping to get back to winning ways in their first encounter with East Herts Royals. However, without the services of Dan Adebayo and looking at their opponents previous results, the hosts knew they would be in for a very difficult task and so it proved. Scores from Rory Burke and Thomas Sowoolu kept things even at 4-4 after two minutes, a 7-0 run from the visitors took them ahead but Swifts fought back to 10-11 after four minutes. Then a 13-0 run by Royals gave Swifts a taste of what was to come as, despite their best defensive efforts, they failed to stop the visitors slick and accurate offence. The 13-30 deficit after 8 minutes looked ominous but a late 8-0 run with scores from Nick Skinner and Sowoolu made the score of 21-30 at the end of the first period a little more respectable.

With both teams making personnel changes in the 2nd period. the flow of the game stuttered with neither team able to exert any authority.   The scoring was relatively low for both teams with Royals winning the period 13-12 to leave a 33-43 scoreline at half time. For some reason Swifts were unable to find any offensive rhythm in the 3rd period but their opponents did and took full advantage of the hosts inability to find the basket and won the period 20-4 to take them into a virtually unassailable 63-37 lead by the end of the period. With the game effectively over Swifts decided to give their less experienced players some valuable court and were rewarded with scores from Alex Willmore, Lucas Hilsum and Isaac Smith. The final result was a 47-89 loss for Swifts against a skilful and more experienced team but a valuable learning curve. Top Scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 12 Skinner 9, Willmore 4, Smith 4, Hilsum 4.


NATIONAL LEAGUE U18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 59  HARINGEY HAWKS 86

Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed undefeated Haringey Hawks to Seevic College for their final fixture of the calendar year.

Swifts started in excellent form, reeling off the first nine points of the game behind scores for Josh Powell, Dan Davies, Paul Jeboda and Jamie Matthews.  The teams then traded baskets to a score of 18-9 in favour of the home side, before Haringey hit back to trail 18-14.  Powell continued to knock down baseline jumpshots to give his side a 22-17 lead, before Davies finished the quarter with two tough layups making the score 26-19.

Haringey came out of the blocks to start the second quarter at a blistering pace, turning steals into fast-break layups to lead 30-26.  Powell continued to be a scoring threat for Swifts, adding six points

in the quarter to prevent Hawks pulling too far away as they led 42-33 at the half.

Swifts had the first five points of the second half with Jeboda and Matthews showing their scoring touch around the basket to narrow the deficit to 42-40.  Again Hawks demonstrated their defensive intensity and ruthless scoring abilities to grab the next 13 points to lead 59-40.  Jeboda and Matthews would again find the basket for Swifts, but these would be their only scores in the remainder of the period to trail 65-44.

Matthews again showed his scoring ability to begin the fourth, but an 8-0 run took Haringey's lead to 75-43 ending any hopes of a comeback  from the home side. Jeboda scored the next six, finishing strongly around the basket, but Swifts had to wait four minutes for their next score - a three-pointer from Scott Williams, his second of the day - before Tyler Barlow made the game's final basket in the 86-59 defeat.

Jeboda led the way with 18 points, followed by Powell and Matthews with 14 apiece.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD FIRE 26  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 100

Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the relatively short trip to Brentwood to take on a team boasting five wins from their first six games, so a tough encounter was certainly expected.

A scrappy start for both teams saw scoring opportunities spurned, with Southend looking unusually tentative.  Katie Bennett finally found her scoring touch and with Georgia Powell chipping in with seven points, it was just 18-8 at the end of the first quarter.

The second period was much more “business as usual”.  Powell, Bennett and Charlotte Redhead were scoring at will and with Lilly Annim dominating the rebounds, the margin began to grow. As always, the ball was shared unselfishly by all of the players.  Tegan Jackson continued her rapid improvement as her team advanced to 53-18 at half time.

Even with far less defensive intensity, turnovers were converted into rapid offence.  Eleanor Butt and Cheyenne Deridisi took advantage of some outstanding passes to score.  The outstanding Bennett sat out for good midway through the third quarter, by the end of which Swifts’ lead was 85-22.   The final period was much more subdued with Skye Stack becoming more accustomed to playing with her new teammates.  A three-pointer from Redhead was the final score as Swifts recorded a very surprisingly comfortable win by 100 points to 26, Bennett with 25, Redhead 24 and Powell 19 leading the scoring.


NATIONAL LEAGUE  U15 BOYS  - SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 37  THURROCK HORNETS 35

In the season's first encounter between the two Essex teams, their respective records so far this season would indicate a comfortable win for the home team but it was far from that. Swifts had 5 players missing from their usual line up and it showed as they struggled to find any offensive rhythm and could only manage to score 5 points in 7 minutes; fortunately for Swifts their opponents could only score 8. A similar pattern followed in the remainder of the first period and the hosts found themselves 11-13 down at the end of it.

Both teams struggled to score for the first 4 minutes of the 2nd period until Matt Kerridge decided to take control on offence and scored 8 consecutive points for the hosts, an additional score from Lewis Jeffery giving Swifts a 22-15 lead  after 9 minutes and this lead was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game. However, 2 scores from the visitors in the last minute of the 2nd period brought Hornets to within 3 points and gave them hope at 19-22.

The low scoring first half was an indication of the dominance of both defence and poor shooting from both offences, the trouble is that the 2nd half proved to be even worse with neither team able to score more than 8 points in either of the remaining periods. Despite the low scoring there was no lack of tension and excitement in the final period as the visitors drew level at 31-31 after 5 minutes. Joel Bailey scored and was fouled on a drive and converted the bonus shot to give Swifts a 3 point lead but Hornets scored to bring them within 1point, Kerridge replied with a score to restore the 3 point lead but again Hornets came back with a score to reduce the deficit to just 1 point again. Swifts had possession with less than two minutes of the match remaining and with just a 1 point lead they needed to keep the ball which forced their opponents to foul to put Swifts on the line. As a result, the hosts had 6 free throws in the last 90 seconds and could only score just 1 to give them a slender 2 point lead. Fortunately for Swifts the visitors were similarly unable to convert the couple of chances they had during that time and the hosts managed to scrape a win in a game they probably deserved to lose. Top scorers for Swifts: Kerridge 17, Bailey 8.


22nd & 23rd NOVEMBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

COUNTY UPPER COYOTES 45  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86

At the youngest levels of basketball, teams tend to be dominated by a relatively small number of players.  They may have started very young or be particularly tall but they will generally score the majority of the points scored.  For Southend Swifts under 14 girls, their leading scorers this season have been Georgia Powell and Katie Bennett.  Both were unavailable for the visit to the fast improving County Upper and with Adanna Achiebe and Abigail Rice dropping out on the day, this looked like a game that would pose problems.

Understandably there was a nervous start, with Southend leading just 6-5 after four minutes.  A 12-4 run, with scores from Charlotte Redhead, Eleanor Butt and Molley Gould, opened the first lead and Swifts closed out the opening quarter with a 20-12 advantage.

The second period was again scrappy and after four minutes, Southend led just 24-18.  But suddenly, all nerves disappeared.  Butt and Tegan Jackson scored four apiece, Lilly Annim started to dominate at both end of the court and a 17-2 run broke the game open as Swifts led 41-20 at half time.

With the wind in their tails, the youngsters began to express themselves.  Redhead’s pinpoint passes got her team mates clear and they gratefully took the scoring opportunities.  Despite the loss of Butt to a twisted ankle, Annim and Gould kept the scoring rate going and with debutante Skye Stack finding the basket, it was 66-34 with one quarter to play.

Cheyenne Deridisi made her way through the home defence and when Poppy Herd scored, all eight players were on the scoresheet.  Stack and Jackson continued the points chase as the margin went above 40, culminating in outstanding 86-45 win that was certainly unexpected in style and magnitude.  Redhead with 23 points, Annim and Jackson 14 each and Butt 10, leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SURREY STEALERS 52  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 45 (AFTER OVERTIME)

Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled to Chessington to take on Surrey Stealers.  Despite missing a number of players Southend were hopeful of victory to keep themselves in the title chase.

Southend seemed to emulate the ice cold sports hall by managing just three points in the opening eight minutes although they trailed just 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.  Eight straight points from Charlotte Bennett gave Swifts their first lead but scoring chances continued to go begging.  Louise Corfield finally found some form and at half time Surrey led just 24-23.

The third period was much improved as Southend scored 12 straight points that should have clinched victory as they led 39-30 going into the final 10 minutes.  But for eight minutes all they could do was shiver as Stealers scored 10 unanswered points to lead by one.  Claire Gold managed three points to give Swifts the lead with Stealers having the last possession.  The defence stood firm but with 2 seconds to play the match officials adjudged Bennett to have committed a foul, which gave the hosts two foul shots that they converted to tie the game up and send it into overtime.

With the initiative going their way, Surrey scored the first eight points to clinch a 52-45 victory.  For Southend only Corfield and Bennett were in double figures on a very disappointing day.

15th & 16th NOVEMBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 33

Having been without a game for two weeks, Southend Swifts under 14 girls were ready for action when they entertained Newham Youngbloods, a club with a rapidly improving girls programme.  Southend gave national league playing debuts to Adanna Achiebe and Abigail Rice.

The home side made an outstanding start, scoring 14 unanswered points in the first three minutes; Molley Gould giving signs of her potential, contributing six points in the run.  There was little respite and at 22-0 after five minutes, the defence intensity was relaxed.  Changes of personnel had little effect and at the end of the first quarter, Swifts had recorded a remarkable 40 points, whilst conceding just 8; captain Georgia Powell and Charlotte Redhead both with 10

Katie Bennett got the scoring started in the second period before 11 year old Poppy Herd got into the scoring action.  Some outstanding defensive work from Lilly Annim was setting her team-mates up and with eight points from Eleanor Butt the margin increased to 68-116 at half time.

Bennett, Powell and Redhead sat out for good allowing the less-experienced players to carry the mantle.  Achiebe scored her first points as well as dominating the defensive rebounds and to the delight of everyone, Rice also converted from close range as Swifts led 80-22 going into the final quarter.  Cheyenne Deridisi and Tegan Jackson both found scoring space as their team recorded an excellent victory by 94 points to 33 with all 11 players on the score sheet and no less than five of them in double figures.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

FOLKESTONE SAINTS  51  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 92

Southend Swifts under 18 men made the long journey to Folkestone on Saturday, looking to pick up their second win of the season following last week's victory over Thurrock Hornets.  

The home side led 3-2 after two minutes, but Swifts showed their prowess on both ends to go on a 14-0 run behind a balanced attack with all five starters getting on the scoresheet.  Quick ball movement and effective finishing around the basket extended their lead to 22-8 after eight minutes and this became 30-10 at the end of the quarter - Josh Powell and Declan Gould grabbing eight points each to lead the way.

The second quarter began in a similar vein as Swifts went on a 12-4 run behind scores from Tom Butt, Archie Hoyi, Gould and Powell.  Changes of personnel allowed all of the Swifts team to get much needed court time and at half time they led 55-24.

The scoring slowed in the third quarter as Swifts attempted to over-complicate matters, struggling to connect with passes on fast break opportunities.  Harry Harwood got himself onto the scoresheet and Scott Williams finished the quarter with a pair of free throws to give his side a 72-33 advantage.

Folkestone showed their indefatigable spirit in the fourth quarter, pestering Swifts on both ends of the court to prevent them running away with the period.  A score from Tyler Barlow was the highlight to round off a very solid team performance from the Southend side as they ran out worthy 92-51 victors.

Gould led the way with 31 points, followed by Powell with 21 and Paul Jeboda with 14.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

COUNTY UPPER COYOTES 33  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86

With  Zoe Willis, Amelia Wilson, Sasha Cornell and Chelsea Locke all unavailable, and Carlie Abbott back after a long-term injury, it was a rather disjointed Southend Swifts under 16 girls team that travelled into Suffolk to take on the County Upper Coyotes.

But if the line-up was disjointed, the play certainly wasn't, as the young ladies scored a remarkable 32 points before their opponents got onto the scoresheet.  Tenacious defence was turned into very rapid attack with all of the players finding the basket.  And if the hosts were able to re-group into their zone defence, up stepped captain Amber Evans with two three-pointers as the game was settled inside the first 10 minutes.

The second quarter saw continued energy even when Evans sat down for good midway through the period.   Georgia Powell had two long range efforts and Rhian Simpson kept up her good run of form before Grace Crook hit an outrageous three-pointer at the half time buzzer, to make it 60-12.

Unsurprisingly the intensity dropped as Coyotes fought to get back into the game.  Swifts scoring rate certainly reduced despite the constant promptings of Charlotte Ellmore.  Powell and Crook kept the scoreboard turning and at the end of the third quarter, it was 77-24.  The final period was even more subdued as Southend closed out with an 86-33 victory, with 5 players in double figures.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SEVENOAKS SUNS 83  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 63

Despite having won five games out of six so far this season, Southend Swifts under 18 girls knew they were in for a battle when they travelled to their nemesis Sevenoaks Suns.

A poor start saw Southend trail 14-2 as Sevenoaks Natalie Busch had three three-pointers in the opening five minutes.  Some poor foul shooting certainly did not help and at the end of the first quarter the home side led 22-7.

The second quarter saw a better effort with Zoe Willis and Louise Corfield finding the basket but a lack of concentration, not helped by some strange officiating decisions, allowed Suns to make three successive three-pointers as they held an unassailable 47-18 half time lead.

Despite the deficit, Swifts showed some real fight.  Charlotte Bennett and Corfield battled for rebounds and Claire Gold and Megan Jones played much better perimeter defence.  The margin reduced to 21 before Sevenoaks had the last four points to lead 66-41 going into the final stanza.

Again Southend had the better of the exchanges with both Charlotte Ellmore and Corfield making three-pointers in the period.  An 8-0 run gave a glimpse of what might have been, but the home side were never really under pressure as they recorded an 83-63 win.


8th & 9th NOVEMBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 58  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 81

In the first of two games against the same team, Southend Swifts under 16 girls looked to consolidate their place at the top of the South 1 Conference with a visit to Hertfordshire Warriors. Southend were missing a number of their regular squad for what was expected to be a difficult game.

Swifts took a quick 5-0 lead, with Rhian Simpson and Kacey Realf finding the basket and scores from Zoe Willis and Chelsea Locke made it 9-4.  10 unanswered points took the lead into double figures but Warriors lived up to their name to reduce the deficit to just 21-12 at the end of the first quarter.

But after allowing the deficit to get to six at 23-17, Southend went into overdrive.  The defensive intensity was turned up with steals turned into baskets.  Katie Bennett, Amber Evans, Georgia Powell and Millie Withers all made major contributions as the visitors put together a 30-4 run that took the game out of sight at 55-21 at half time.

With Swifts resting some of their players, the hosts decided that physicality was the only answer.  The match officials decided that a number of challenges were legitimate as the younger Essex players were put out of their stride.  From 67-38, Warriors put together a 10-2 run that gave them some hope at 69-48.

The margin got down to 71-56 midway through the final quarter before Swifts settled it with some outstanding foul shooting, making eight from eight to run out convincing winners by 81 points to 58.  Willis with 26 points, Bennett 12 and Evans 11 leading the very balanced scoreline.

UNDER 15 BOYS  NATIONAL LEAGUE -  SOUTH 1 DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 42  NASSA  61

After an improved performance the previous weekend, Swifts were hoping to continue in the same vein against a London team they had shared two very close encounters with last season. Unfortunately for the hosts their 6'6" centre, Jacob Thorne, who had played so well last weekend, was a late withdrawal due to illness and his presence at both ends of the court was sorely missed as the visitors made a great start by keeping Swifts scoreless for 5 minutes and scoring 13 points themselves. A basket from the previous game's top scorer, Joel Bailey, broke the scoring drought and kick started Swifts offence but defensively the hosts struggled to contain the tall, athletic NASSA players and found themselves 8-24 down at the end of the first period with a tough task ahead.

The introduction of team newcomer this season, Albert Taylor, in the forward role to help Matt Kerridge on the boards made a big difference as he went on to have his best ever game for the club at both ends of the court. Taylor's 6 points in the period and numerous rebounds helped Swifts get back into the game by outscoring the visitors 14-11 in the second period to reduce the deficit to 22-35 by half time. Although still not playing with any real intensity, especially on defence, Swifts felt that they might be in with a chance of getting right back into the game now that the height of Kerridge, Taylor and U14 debutant Thomas Sowoolu was now matching that of NASSA. The teams traded baskets for the first 5 minutes of the third period until a 10-0 run in 3 minutes by the visitors put the game almost out of the hosts reach. A 3 pointer from Zack Littlejohn was a fillip for the team but they still struggled to contain the NASSA offence and the visitors extended their lead to 23 points at 55-32 by the end of the period.

In the final period Swifts made a good comeback with Taylor and Kerridge dominant but with the visitors resting their taller players this was to be expected. The NASSA guards dominated the Swifts guards the whole game by restricting them to just 10 points and was a major factor in the visitors deserved victory by 61-42. Swifts now have a 2 week break to regroup and get back to winning ways in their next game against fellow Essex Club Thurrock Hornets at SEEVIC on November 29. Top Scorers for Swifts: Taylor 16, Kerridge 12, Littlejohn 6.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65  THURROCK HORNETS 53

Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed newly-formed Thurrock Hornets to Seevic College on Saturday.

A tentative opening to the game saw the visitors take a 5-1 lead after three minutes, as Swifts found it difficult to convert chances around the basket.  The home side then burst into life, going on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to hold a 10-5 lead behind scores from Paul Jeboda, Scott Williams, Declan Gould, Dan Davies and Jamie Matthews.  Hornets replied with a strong close to the quarter, spurred on by a trio of three-pointers, to finish out with a 17-12 advantage.

It took three minutes for a point to be registered in the second quarter and Tom Butt grabbed the basket which sparked a scoring run from his team.  Jeboda finally found his touch around the basket to record three and-one scores as part of an 11-4 run, which gave Swifts a 28-21 lead with two minutes remaining.  However, they would lose focus and their margin was trimmed to 29-25 at the half.  

Swifts started poorly in the third quarter, giving up the first six points as they saw their lead disappear.  However, from a trailing margin of 33-31 they would regroup and show the best of their team's ability to move the ball and create scoring opportunities.  Williams, Jeboda, Matthews and Josh Powell made baskets as their side went on a 16-0 run to give them a lead of 47-33.  Following a Thurrock score, their first for six minutes, Matthews again found himself on the scoresheet following a strong move underneath the basket.

The final stanza opened with another Matthews score,  followed by one from Archie Hoyi.  From 56-37 though Swifts would suffer from the inability to make correct decisions that have blighted their other fixtures thus far this season.  Thurrock took full advantage, cutting the margin to 58-49, but they were unable to get any closer as Swifts held on to win 65-53.

Jeboda led the way with 18 points, followed by Matthews with 16 and Gould with 10.  

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP – 2ND ROUND

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 55  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 66

So two hours after the end of the league fixture between these two teams, they met again in the second round of the national cup.  Hertfordshire had added East Region guard Robyn Ainge to their squad, whilst Southend were without Grace Crook.  However, the Essex side were hoping to nurse Charlotte Ellmore through the tie, following her dislocated finger the previous week.

After Ainge had opened the scoring, Southend simply took the game over.  Their trademark defence stopped Warriors getting any kind of clear look at the basket and with 14 year old Georgia Powell showing her potential, Swifts made a 19-2 run that all but decided the game – Powell contributing 11.  The hosts finally stopped the spell but at the end of the first quarter, Southend led 24-10.

With Willis not at her normal exuberant best, her team mates took up the scoring mantle.  Rhian Simpson and Ellmore both had four points apiece in a run that took Swifts 36-19 ahead.  Evans sat out for a well-deserved break but late scores from Kacey Realf and Simpson made it 41-23 at the half way interval.

The margin soon approached 20 and despite some missed foul shots, Southend remained in control.  Simpson, in particular, revelled in the responsibility given to her and she had her team’s last five points to make it 53-33 going into the final period.

Warriors had the first six points but with Southend stalwarts Shannon Brook and Grace Livermore were able to control the tempo.  To their credit, Warriors battled to the end but there was no way back as Swifts reached the 3rd round of the cup with a 66-55 win.  Simpson led the way with 13 points, Evans and Willis 12 and Powell 11.

UNDER 18 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP – 2ND ROUND

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 57  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 58

It is disappointing when two of the strongest teams meet so early in a competition but that was the situation for the under 18 girls teams of Newham Youngbloods and Southend Swifts when they met in the second round of the National Cup.  Both teams have won four league games out of five and last week Newham inflicted the first defeat on previously unbeaten Sevenoaks.  With Youngbloods signing a number of former Haringey players and having now added England international Rhianna Laing, Southend knew this would be the toughest of encounters.

Both teams came out with some tough defence, with Swifts leading just 7-6 after four minutes, Louise Corfield and Claire Gold sharing the points.  Neither team could get themselves clear with an and-one from Gold taking her team 11-9 ahead.  But the hosts took control and they had the next six.  Charlotte Bennett and Zoe Willis replied and another Gold score made it 19-17 to the home side at the end of the 1st quarter.

Still defences remained on top.  Newham’s tactic of keeping Megan Jones closely guarded was paying dividends as she was kept scoreless in the first half although her defence and rebounding was invaluable.  Bennett and Corfield kept their team in it but at half time, it was 30-27 in favour of Youngbloods.

However, the third quarter would see a major change of fortunes for Southend.   Four points from Jones, made it a one point game at 32-31.  Newham made a foul shot buy seven straight for Swifts, including a Jones three-pointer, took them 38-33 ahead.  The teams traded scores before a steal and lay-up from Willis took Southend 45-39 ahead with one stanza to play.

But the London side were in no mood to capitulate.  They scored the first seven points to lead by one and they held the lead as both teams struggled to score.  Corfield and Jones got on the end of some outstanding passing and Swifts led 51-48 after five minutes.  Newham again hit back with another seven straight and it was 55-51 with three minutes to play.  Bennett made one foul shot but Newham replied with two and it was 57-52 with two minutes remaining.  Southend strengthened their resolve.  Corfield made a put back and after another defensive stop, Jones found Bennett on a fast break to make it a one-point game.  Another defensive stop and Jones danced her way through for a close range score and Swifts led 58-57.  Newham take a time out and get close to the basket but some great defence from Bennett prevents a shot.  Willis is fouled but she misses both foul shots and Youngbloods have the ball with five seconds to play.  But the final shot is short and Swifts record an outstanding victory against a very good team.  Jones with 15 points, Gold 11 and Corfield and Willis 10 apiece.


1st & 2nd NOVEMBER 2014

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE - EAST CONFERENCE

MILTON KEYNES TROJANS 63  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73

After a two hour trek to the South Midlands, Southend Swifts under 14 boys made a rather sluggish start and found themselves 1-10 down after just 3 minutes. The hosts aggressive full court pressing defence was working well, especially as Southend could only manage to score 3 from 11 foul shots. Despite consecutive scores from Dan Adebayo, Swifts found themselves 9-18 down after 7 minutes. With Swifts top scorer so far this season, Thomas Sowoolu, unwell from the journey, which forced him to sit out after just a few minutes his replacement Callum Powell stepped up and contributed half of an 8-2 run to bring Swifts to within 5 points at the end of the first period.

An excellent 10-0 run from the visitors with contributions from Nick Skinner and Adebayo took them into a 27-22 lead after 4 minutes but the hosts continued to press and force turnovers to get themselves back in the game and in fact take a 32-31 lead with a minute of the half left. Two excellent steals and scores from Skinner took Swifts back into a narrow 35-32 lead at half time.

The noisy and enthusiastic home crowd got behind their team and inspired them to an 8-2 run and Swifts struggled to find any fluency in their offence but scores from Jamie Rombaut, Theo March and Will Stock kept them to within 1 point at 43-44 after 5 minutes. A 9-0 run from the Trojans saw Swifts 10 points down with only two minutes of the third period remaining but quick scores from Adebayo and Powell contributed to a 6-0 run to bring the deficit to just 4 points at 49-53.

A close and exciting last quarter seemed inevitable as both teams battled for supremacy but the re-introduction of a recovered Sowoolu was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game as Swifts went on a 21-4 run, 12 of which were scored by Sowoolu, to lead 70-59 with less than 3 minutes left. Swifts saw the game out quite comfortably and secured a very good 73-63 win to keep their unbeaten record. Dan Adebayo was outstanding at both ends of the court and finished with a personal tally of 27 points and numerous steals and rebounds. Sowoolu 16, Powell 11 and Skinner 8 were Swifts other main scorers.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 69  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 54

Southend Swifts three girls’ teams looked to continue their win streak when all were at home at Seevic College against opposition from the London Greenhouse club.  The London charity work in a number of schools, where basketball is a strongly featured sport.

For the under 14s, this match would certainly be their toughest game to date as they met a team also boasting an unbeaten record so far this season.  In addition, the fact that Southend were below full strength added to the concern.

Swifts made their customary fast start as Charlotte Redhead had nine of her team’s first eleven points as the hosts led 11-2 after five minutes on their way to a 15-8 first quarter lead.  With Katie Bennett finding the basket, Southend would have expected to draw decisively ahead but some tenacious defence from Pioneers, and some lapses in concentration,  meant the score stood at just 34-24 at half time despite six late points from Georgia Powell.

A much better start saw Swifts open with a 7-2 run to extend the lead to 15.  Pioneers continued to battle as the teams exchanged baskets and with one quarter to play it was 53-38.  But the first three minutes saw what the young ladies were really capable of.  The passes started to connect and with Bennett and Eleanor Butt scoring four points apiece it was 63-38 and the job finally done.  To their credit, Pioneers did not let their heads drop and an 8-2 spell and a further eight unanswered gave the scoreline respectability as Southend won a very good standard contest by 69 points to 54.  Redhead with 25 points, Barrett 20 and Powell 12 leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 88  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS EAST 56

Having defeated the South London Pioneers the previous week, Southend Swifts under 16 girls met the East London representatives in their latest league fixture.  Southend were missing their two tallest players, Grace Crook and Kacey Realf, so knew this would be a tough battle against an athletic and well-coached team.

A good start saw Southend score 10 of the first 12 points with Sasha Cornell scoring five.  Amber Evans and Rhian Simpson continued the aerial domination and a Tia Stack score made it 18-6.  An unusually quiet Zoe Willis had the next four points, followed by the same for Stack and a pair of Chelsea Locke foul shots took the score to 28-9 at the end of the first quarter.

If that was good, the first six minutes of the second period was outstanding An 18-2 run, with six points from Charlotte Ellmore and eight from Willis, took the score to 46-11.  However, an injury to Ellmore and changes of personnel gave Pioneers the initiative and they closed out the quarter with an outstanding 19-4 spell to trail just 50-30 at the midway interval.

However, this had the effect of concentrating the Swifts’ minds.  Scores from Locke, Simpson and Evans increased the lead and back-to-back threes from Willis made it 62-35.  Evans sat down for good after six minutes but further baskets from Stack, Locke and Katie Bennett saw the margin at 74-42 with one period to play.

An outrageous three-point shot from Amelia Wilson, whilst being fouled, got the home side off to a good start and at 81-44, Willis took her leave.  Pioneers replied with a 12-2 spell but a three-pointer from Georgia Powell and a Grace Livermore score concluded matters with a very fine 88-56 win.  Willis with 20 points, Stack 14 and Evans 12 leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 45

So the final game of a triple header against the same club saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls try to emulate their younger colleagues by inflicting defeat on a London Greenhouse Pioneers team.

The visitors made the stronger start, opening an 8-2 lead after five minutes as Southend struggled to find any fluency.  However, a series of foul shot got Swifts back into the game and at the end of the first quarter, it was 12 points apiece.

Despite good shooting from Pioneers’ Armitage, the scores were again level at 18 after five minutes.  The London side had the next five points, forcing Southend to take a time-out.  But whatever magic potion was applied, Swifts kept their opponents scoreless for the final four minutes, whilst scoring 11 themselves to lead 29-23 at half time.

The third quarter really showed the maturity of this Southend team.  For five minutes, they prevented Pioneers getting any clear look at the basket, whilst scoring 16 points themselves, making 27 unanswered points over a nine minute period.  Every player played tenacious defence and at 45-23, the game was effectively concluded.  Claire Gold and Louise Corfield sharing 12 points.  The visitors finally managed nine points in the remainder of the quarter, but it was 51-32 going into the final stanza.

Gold and Charlotte Bennett kept the scoring run going as the margin approached 30.  Pioneers managed eight straight points but there was no way back, as Southend ended with an excellent 68-45 win that keeps them at the head of their conference.  Gold with 17 points, Willis 13 and Bennett and Corfield 13 each leading the scoring.

U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE  - SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85    SOUTHEND SCORPIONS  58

After suffering their first defeat of the season the previous weekend, Southend Swifts under 15 boys were determined to get back to winning ways against their near neighbours. With a few players missing due to holidays, Swifts started with Dan Adebayo and after his outstanding performance for the under 14s the day before, it was almost inevitable that he would open the scoring for Swifts but a quick response from Scorpions saw them 4-2 up after 3 minutes. A 10-2 run from the hosts quickly redressed the balance thanks to good work from Joel Bailey and Jacob Thorne in particular. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the period with Swifts 19-13 ahead by the end.

The second period was littered with fouls and free throws and neither team was able to play with any fluency. Out of 15 foul shots Swifts only managed to convert 3 whereas Scorpions managed to convert 7 out of 10. Scores from Matt Kerridge, Bailey and Thorne kept Swifts ahead despite two three point scores from Scorpions guard T.Barker.

A half time lead of 42-32 for the hosts would have given the visitors some hope for a turnaround in the second half and a 4-0 run was just the start they needed. A 3 point play from Alex Skingle and a put back from Thorne re-established the margin and from then on the teams virtually traded baskets until a 6-0 run in the last two minutes of the period took Swifts into a commanding 67-47 lead. To their credit Scorpions never gave up and fought hard to get back into the game with an immediate  6-0 run but scores from Josh Dalton and Bailey redressed the balance yet again and when two of the visitors players were fouled out any realistic chance of a comeback was gone. The combination of Bailey, Thorne and Adebayo in the final period was just too good for the visitors and Swifts ran out worthy winners 85-58. Top scorer for Swifts was Joel Bailey with a season high 32 points, including 3 three pointers, ably assisted by Thorne 18, Adebayo 8 and Kerridge 7.


25th & 26th OCTOBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 BOYS - EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS  87  CAMBRIDGE CATS  48

After their first ever game together the previous week, which resulted in a very exciting overtime win, Southend Swifts youngest boys team were eagerly looking forward to their first home game of the season against Cambridge Cats. Swifts started brightly with point guard Nick Skinner and centre Thomas Sowoolu combining well to share the scoring in a 12-0 run in the first 5 minutes. The visitors appeared rather shell shocked but managed to recover a little to score 8 points in the remainder of the period but Skinner and Sowoolu continued to dominate and with contributions also from Dan Adebayo and Jamie Rombaut, Swifts finished the first period with a 26-8 lead.

Despite changes of personnel, the hosts continued to dominate with Jordan Sullens and Dan Adebayo sharing the scoring in a 14-0 run that took the lead to 40-8 and an apparent cricket score looming. However, the visitors at last found their scoring touch and went on a very creditable 17-6 run of their own and brought some respectability back to the scoreline at 46-26 at half time.

The third period saw Sowoolu, Adebayo and Skinner re-assert their domination at both ends of the court and despite a much more confident and determined effort from the visitors, they could not prevent the hosts from extending their lead by another 10 points by the end of the 3rd quarter. Personnel changes slowed things down a little for the hosts but scores from Theo March, Dan Bull, Callum Powell and Tom Willmore helped Swifts extend their lead despite a much improved performance from Cambridge. The final scoreline of 87-48 was a deserved one for Swifts to take them to 2-0 but also a fair reflection of a brave effort by the visitors after a shaky start. Top scorers for Swifts, Sowoolu 30, Skinner 17, Adebayo 11 and Sullens 8.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54  NASSA 65

Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed NASSA to Seevic College on Saturday for their second league game of the season.  

Two early baskets for Dec Gould gave Swifts a 4-0 lead, which turned into 5-3 after three minutes.  The home side would then go scoreless for four minutes, but NASSA could only manage four points of their own, with Swifts forcing them to settle for jump shots.  Dan Davies, Tom Butt, Jamie Matthews and Josh Powell then found their way onto the scoresheet in the quarter's closing minutes to leave the scores level at 11-11.  

Swifts again started the brighter to open the second period, with five points from Paul Jeboda and a Scott Williams layup as they moved 18-11 in front.  The scores would be pegged back to level at 19-19, before Swifts' defence kicked into action and they turned pressure into easy scores, to finish the quarter 33-23 in front.  

A revitalised NASSA looked to trim the deficit at the start of the second half, but Swifts kept them at bay leading 38-28 after five minutes.  The hosts would then make the wrong decisions on both ends of the court allowing their lead to slip away and they would in fact trail by one at 44-43 with one quarter remaining.

Swifts allowed the final period to go much the same as the previous, failing to execute on offence and lacking the defensive intensity needed to keep NASSA at bay.  Scores from Archie Hoyi, Harry Harwood, Powell and Jeboda were not enough to stop their side going down to a 65-54 defeat.

Williams led the way with 12, Jeboda followed with 10 and Powell with 9.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 15 BOYS - SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68  WESTMINSTER WARRIORS 49

After last week's disappointing first loss of the season, Southend Swifts under 15 boys faced another game against London opposition, Westminster Warriors. With six Swifts players out due to the half term holiday break, this seemed destined to be a tough contest for Swifts.

Right from the start, the game became a very physical contest with the visitors living up to their name and pressing Swifts hard. Often this was not to the liking of the match officials resulting in them conceding 4 team fouls in the first 3 minutes of the game. This also made the game scrappy and lacking in flow as Swifts struggled to find any rhythm to their game. The visitors found the basket with more ease and regularity than Swifts and apart from a 3 pointer for Joel Bailey, most of Swift's scores came from the foul line with 6 out of 12 foul shots made. The hosts finished the first period 11-16 down and still struggling to find any fluency.

Despite a 6-2 run from Warriors at the start of the next period, Southend managed at last to find the basket in open play.  Alex Skingle and under 14's Dan Adebayo and Nick Skinner contributed to a 10-0 run that took Swifts into the lead for the first time in the game at 23-22 after six minutes. The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the period with the visitors just getting ahead 29-27 with the last score of the half.

The third period was another tough and tense affair but the foul count for Warriors was mounting and after a relatively even scoring period this was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game. Swifts managed to get a five point lead at the end of period thanks to Matt Kerridge and Jacob Thorne combining well on the boards at both ends of the court.

Despite a 3 pointer start from Warriors at the beginning of the final period, a 12-0 run from Swifts with Skingle prominent and the fouling out of three Warrior's players, allowed the hosts to dominate the rest of the game, restricting their opponents to just 7 points whilst scoring 23 themselves. The final score of 68-49 to Swifts was probably a little flattering and didn't really reflect the competitiveness of the game. The return fixture in London should be an interesting one. Top Scorers for Swifts : Skingle 21, Kerridge 11, Adebayo 10, Bailey 9, Skinner 8 and Thorne 7.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 78  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS SOUTH 41

After their cup win the previous week, Southend Swifts under 16 girls were back in league action when they welcomed London Greenhouse Pioneers South to their home court at Seevic College.  Southend were missing a number of players from their regular line-up but welcomed back Sasha Cornell, just recovered from a wrist injury.

Swifts made a slightly tentative start as Pioneers’ excellent Sarah Bello was able to penetrate to the basket but scores from Amber Evans and Zoe Willis steadied the nerves, and after three minutes the home side led 9-4.   Georgia Powell and Grace Crook chipped in contributions as the Londoners managed just two points in six minutes to trail 16-7 and four points from Charlotte Ellmore and a basket from Cornell gave Southend a 22-10 first quarter lead.

After failing to score for three minutes, Swifts suddenly found some rhythm.  Willis, not quite showing the form of previous games. had the next five points and with Evans slicing through Pioneers defence, the margin approached 20.  Tia Stack, Grace Livermore and Millie Withers all scored off of some excellent passing movements and at half time the hosts led 44-19.

Powell and Ellmore found the basket early and soon the margin was over 30.  Powell continued to find space allowing Evans and Willis to sit down for good in the third period.  A lay-up from Chelsea Locke ended the scoring as her team led 66-30 going into the final stanza.

Amelia Wilson led the charge with some outstanding defensive work and further scores from Locke and Withers concluded a 6-0 run but a good spell from Pioneers saw them put together an 11-4 run with only Crook able to find her scoring touch.  A final basket from Ellmore completed the afternoon’s activities as Southend recorded a 78-41 win against a team that will certainly cause greater difficulties for their opponents as the season progresses.  Evans with 14 points, Willis and Ellmore 13 apiece and Powell 10 leading the scoring.


18th & 19th OCTOBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 BOYS – EAST CONFERENCE

IPSWICH ACADEMY BASKETBALL 77  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 78 (AFTER OVERTIME)

Southend Swifts youngest boys’ team set out with some trepidation for their first ever National League game against Ipswich, a Club with an excellent boys programme.  Despite scoring the first basket, the visitors found themselves 2-5 down after 2 minutes.  However, excellent work on the offensive boards by Dan Adebayo and debutant Thomas Sowoolu scoring 6 points each, took Swifts on a 12-3 run to establish a 14-8 lead after 6 minutes.  Some excellent outside shooting from the skilful Ipswich team redressed the balance somewhat but two quick fast break scores from another debutant, Alex Willmore and baskets from point guard Nick Skinner saw Swifts through to the end of the 1st period with a surprising 22-15 lead.

In the 2nd period, the teams quite literally traded baskets with Adebayo and Sowoolu again prominent for Swifts, Sowoolu scoring his team's last 8 points of the half to take them to a 41-35 lead.  The 3rd period continued in a similar vein but this time the hosts started to reduce the deficit with more very good outside shooting especially from B. Winter who scored 14 of his team's 21 points in the quarter.  Swifts rested Adebayo and Sowoolu but another debutant, Isaac Smith showed his potential by contributing 8 points in the quarter.  By the end of the period the hosts found themselves just 3 points down at 56-59 and their home supporters were starting to believe.

The 4th quarter started with both teams quite nervous until an excellent 3 point score from Ipswich's Tebbit released the tension and sent the crowd into raptures of delight as the hosts were level.  A quick riposte from Adebayo took Swifts back in front.  A score and a bonus shot from Winter put Ipswich back in the lead but scores from from Skinner, Adebayo and Sowoolu put Swifts ahead by 4 pts with 3 minutes left on the clock.  Due to both tiredness and inexperience at this level, Swifts started missing some easy lay-ups and put backs that allowed Ipswich to go on a 5-0 run to lead by 1 point with just 1 minute left.  Smith then scored for Swifts to take them ahead by one but with one possession left Ipswich's Winter was fouled and went to the line, he missed the first shot and scored the second to level the scores at 70-70 when the final buzzer went.

Five minutes overtime and more tension and excitement for everyone to come! Ipswich scored first and pressed well but Swifts kept their cool and Adebayo replied.  Smith fouled out but the resulting two free throws were missed by Ipswich and then Skinner was fouled and coolly slotted both fouls shots to take Swifts 74-72 ahead with 3 minutes to play.  A brilliant steal by Skinner resulted in a breakaway score and Swifts were 4 points up with 2 minutes left.  However, Ipswich were not giving up, Scores from Payne and Tebbit brought them level and one out of two fouls shots scored took them 1 point ahead with less than a minute to go.  Yet another superb steal and breakaway score from Skinner took Swifts 1 point ahead with 10 seconds left and with the hosts supporters holding their breath, a long buzzer shot from Ipswich went tantalisingly close but fortunately for Swifts did not go in giving them their first ever National league win in their first ever game together against a very good Ipswich team, a tremendous achievement.

Top scorers for Swifts: Sowoolu 24, Adebayo 23, Skinner 14, Smith 12

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 41  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 115

After two convincing wins in their opening fixtures of the season, Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the trip into Hertfordshire expecting a much tougher encounter against the hometown Warriors.

However, whatever the expectation, Southend were in no mood to give their opponents any opportunity to shine.  Cheyenne Deridisi scored from close range followed by five for captain Georgia Powell and it was 7-0 inside the first minute.  Charlotte Redhead had the next six and a Katie Bennett lay-up made it 15 straight.  The player changes made little different and scores from Lilly Annim and Powell made it 26-0 and the defensive pressure ceased.  The scoring rate, however, did not and after seven minutes, Swifts had reached a staggering 36 unanswered points.  To the relief of the home spectators, Hertfordshire finally registered a score but at the end of the first quarter, Swifts led 40-4.

Needless to say, the intensity dropped even further, allowing Warriors their best spell.  Southend became sloppy in their finishing and after six minutes the scoreline stood at just 51-18 before the visitors ran in the final 11 points to lead 52-18 at the half way point.

The hosts had the opening five points of the third period before Swifts again moved into gear.  Powell, Deridisi, Bennett and Redhead shared the next 11 and with Tegan Jackson and Eleanor Butt finding the target, it was 85-27 going into the final 10 minutes.

A pair of Powell three-pointers and a series of Redhead lay-ups got their team into three figures but much more impressive was the contribution of 11 year old Poppy Herd.  She showed her vast improvement defensively as well as taking rebounds and to the delight of her team mates she also found the basket.  Molley Gould also got just reward for her hard work as Swifts recorded an outstanding win by 115 points to 41.  Redhead with 36 points, Powell 24, Bennett 19 and Annim 10 leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

GREENWICH TITANS 65  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 55

Southend Swifts under 18 men got their league campaign underway with a short trip to face Greenwich Titans on Saturday.

A poor opening quarter saw Swifts struggle to create any sense of composure on offence, struggling to find a team-mate with their passes that lead to an almost constant stream of turnovers.  Baskets from Declan Gould, Dan Davies, Paul Jeboda and Josh Powell kept their team in the contest trailing 13-8.  However, if the Swifts fans thought the first period was bad, the worst was yet to come.  Their defensive abilities went the same way as their offensive, as they lost the quarter 23-9 to trail 36-17 at the half.

With their pride at stake, Swifts found more cohesion on offence to open the second half, but got could not get out of simply trading baskets with the Titans, meaning that after a quarter they won 22-20; they still trailed 56-39.  Jeboda had eight points in the quarter, followed by Scott Williams with six.  Southend would save their best for last with a dominant defensive final quarter.  Harry Harwood was able to disrupt the flow of the Titans passing, leading to a number of fast break opportunities.  However, it would be too little too late, as the home side took the victory 65-55 in what was the worst Swifts performance for a number of years.  

Jeboda led the way with 17, followed by Gould with 14 and Powell 7.

UNDER 16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP - 1ST ROUND

IPSWICH BOBCATS 43  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60

The vagaries of the draw for the under 16 girls National Cup saw two of the strongest club sides, Ipswich Bobcats and Southend Swifts meet in the first round.  Both teams have already recorded wins over Haringey Angels and with Southend missing their tallest player Kacey Realf as well as Carlie Abbott and Grace Livermore, this looked to be a daunting task out in Suffolk.

Points were certainly at a premium early on, with the teams sharing just eight points in the opening four minutes.  Ipswich made an 8-4 run, with Freya Cooney scoring six, before Swifts hit back with six straight to lead by two, Zoe Willis and Charlotte Ellmore leading the way.  The introduction of under 14 Georgia Powell gave her team a further spark and the youngster had four points as her team held a narrow 18-16 lead at the first break.

Scores from Powell and Willis took the lead out to six but with Cooney dominating around the basket, Bobcats got back into the game.  However, with Ipswich captain Ashley Pink succumbing to a long-standing ankle injury, Swifts took control.  Captain Amber Evans exerted her authority at both ends of the court and her three-pointer was part of a 12-0 run that gave Southend a 38-26 half time lead.

Swifts’ defence was even more miserly in the third quarter.  They allowed the home side just two points and even though their offence was far from fluent, the margin stood at 47-28 going into the final stanza.  When Tia Stack and Katie Bennett had the first two baskets, the lead was 23 and it was time for all the players to get court time.  Ipswich got back to 52-38 but Southend had the next six and that clinched matters.

Willis continued her run of excellent games with 26 points but once again, the strength in depth of the whole squad saw Southend through to the second round.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE U15 BOYS SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 44  ISLINGTON PANTHERS 69

Southend Swifts under 15 boys had started the season well with two wins against London teams and this weekend they hosted yet another London team, Islington Panthers, who were also unbeaten which augured well for a good contest at SEEVIC College.  Panthers opened the scoring with a good 3 point shot that seemed to unsettle the hosts and despite a put back by Matt Kerridge, the visitors went on an 8-0 run to lead 11-2 after 5 minutes.  A Swifts time out was inevitable and whatever was said seemed to spur the team who then went on an 8-0 run of their own with Kerridge and Jacob Thorne working well on the offensive boards.  The teams traded baskets for the remainder of the period to finish level at 18-18.

Another sloppy start from Swifts allowed the visitors to have a 9-0 before the hosts could score and yet another time out called.  This time however, whatever was said did not have the same effect and a combination of poor shooting from Swifts and some excellent offensive play by Panthers virtually took the visitors out of sight by half time with a 20 point lead at 46-26.  Part of the reason for Swifts lack of scoring success was their first encounter with a zone defence.  With Kerridge and Thorne scoring well in the first period, Panthers switched to a zone defence making it very hard for Swifts big men to get any space under the basket.  This should have opened the door for Swifts point guard Joel Bailey, whose excellent outside shooting the previous game had helped his team to victory, but it was not to be as Bailey just could not find his range this time and Panthers took a firm grip on the game.

The 3rd period was a strange affair with both teams seeming to accept what appeared to be an inevitable result and each team scoring a meagre 9 points each to produce a 35-55 scoreline.

Swifts gave some of their bench players a good run out in the 4th period resulting in scores for Archie Clark, Albert Taylor and Alex Skingle but Panthers were too strong for Swifts and ran out deserved winners 69-44.  For Swifts top scorers were Kerridge 12 points and Thorne and Adebayo on eight apiece.

UNDER 18 MENS NATIONAL CUP - 1ST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73  HEMEL STORM 97

The final game of a busy club weekend and the second game for the under 18 men saw them welcome Premier South team Hemel Storm to Seevic College for the first round of the cup.  

Swifts had the better of the opening exchanges to the game, taking a 12-6 lead midway through the first quarter behind eight points from Declan Gould, who found himself on the end of clever passes from his team-mates.  Hemel regrouped and took a 9-0 run to take the lead at 15-12, but Swifts were not dismayed as four more points from Gould and a basket from Paul Jeboda kept them in contention at 25-18 down after 10 minutes.

The teams traded baskets to open the second period with Hemel maintaining a lead at 33-24, but Swifts would have the next eight as their offensive creativity began to kick in - scores coming from Jeboda, Tom Butt and Jamie Matthews.  The visitors held a narrow lead of 40-35 at the half.  

After a timid start to the second half, Storm found their rhythm on both ends of the court, stretching their lead at the end of the period to 72-49 - with their hosts succumbing to the simple mistakes they had made the previous day.  However, Swifts were not ready to simply lie down amidst the offensive onslaught.  Scott Williams opened the final quarter with a three-pointer and this was followed up with a balanced attack from the offence as scores came from Jeboda, Matthews, Butt and Gould to ensure that the game finished on a high-point for Swifts despite  Hemel taking the victory 97-73.


11th & 12th OCTOBER 2014

U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 1

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 57

After a winning start to the season Southend Swifts under 15 boys were hoping to continue in the same vein against another London team, Newham Youngbloods, in their first match at SEEVIC College.

The visitors took an early lead but scores from Jacob Thorne and Matt Kerridge redressed the balance and for the remainder of the first period the teams virtually traded baskets with Newham leading 13-12 by the end of the quarter. A 6-0 run at the start of the second period saw the visitors ahead again but scores from Alex Skingle and Kerridge brought the home side level and again the teams traded baskets but this time the visitors scored the last 4 points to take a 28-22 lead into half time.

The third period was to prove decisive in the outcome of the game with Swifts guard Joe Bailey particularly influential by scoring two consecutive 3 pointers in an 11-0 run to take Swifts into the lead for the first time in the game at 39-34 after 6 minutes. Also to the fore during this period was newcomer Adam Liddell whose athleticism and determination in defence resulted in some excellent steals and rebounds. Newham responded with a 6-2 run but a score from Bailey and consecutive put backs from Kerridge led to a 45-40 lead for the hosts at the end of the 3rd period.

The final stanza started well for Swifts with a 6-2 run and scores from Zack Littlejohn, Adam Liddell and yet another 3 pointer from Bailey established a 10 point lead after 5 minutes. Swifts were able to maintain that lead despite the best efforts of the visitors and with a 58-48 lead with 2 minutes to go looked set for an excellent win. However, the visitors were not beaten yet and the combination of a full court pressing defence, some poor foul shooting and careless play from Swifts and the loss of Matt Kerridge with 5 fouls resulted in 9-1 run to Newham bringing them to within 2 points with 30 seconds left. Swifts held on but only scoring 2 out of 8 foul shots in the last minute certainly made it a very tense affair. An excellent second win for Swifts with Joel Bailey top scoring with 25, Kerridge 12, Skingle 7, Thorne 6, Littlejohn 6, Liddell 4.


NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 59

Having recorded an excellent win the previous week at Peckham, Southend Swifts under 18 girls again faced opposition from London when they welcomed Newham Youngbloods to Seevic College.  As with Peckham, Newham’s team contained players previously with Haringey Angels, which only served to bolster an already strong line-up.

The visitors had the first four points, but scores from Megan Jones and Amber Evans soon tied the game up.  Youngbloods offence looked the more fluent as they moved four points ahead and despite scores from Charlotte Bennett and Zoe Willis, they maintained the advantage through to the ninth minute before they extended out to 23-17 at the end of the opening quarter.

Swifts came out with more purpose and two Claire Gold baskets helped reduce the deficit to 28-25 after three minutes.  Newham recovered and a 6-2 run took them 34-27 ahead with two minutes to play.  The teams shared the next eight points before a stunning Bennett play looked to have got her team back into contention but a bad lapse of concentration from all five players allowed Youngblood to score on the buzzer to take a 40-33 half time lead.

After conceding four of the first six points, Southend found themselves nine behind at 44-35.  But suddenly the defence tightened up and with Willis finding her way to the basket the gap began to close.  From 47-41 behind, Swifts had six straight to tie the game up before Newham showed their customary fight to lead 51-48 going into the final 10 minutes.

After a Bennett basket, Newham had the next four but scoring was certainly at a premium and after six minutes it was 56-52, with the large crowd on the edge of their seats.  Then came the crucial passage of the match.  Some sensational defence was turned into rapid attack as an Evans score from close range was followed by six points for Willis and the home side led 60-56.  On the next attack Jones, who has not quite found her shooting touch this season, had a trademark three-pointer and the lead was seven.  Newham replied with a pair of foul shots before three points from Gold took the margin to eight.  A pair of Jones foul shots iced the win from an excellent team performance.  Willis with 31 points and Jones 16 leading the scoring.


NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 94  COUNTY UPPER COYOTES 48

After their big win the previous week, Southend Swifts under 14 girls were in confident mood when they entertained County Upper Coyotes to Seevic College.  Southend welcomed Katie Bennett back into the team as well as giving a national league debut to 11 year old Poppy Herd, but were without Eleanor Butt, missing with an ankle injury.

Southend made their customary fast start, scoring six points in the first minute, but County Upper showed good resilience to hit back and after five minutes the scores were tied at 10.  However, this seemed only to spur Swifts on.  Captain Georgia Powell led the way and with newcomer Lilly Annim coming to the fore, 12 straight points took the home side clear.  Charlotte Redhead ran the offence with her normal efficiency, as well as finding the basket herself, and at the end of the first quarter, it was 31-14.

A 13-2 run, with four points from Bennett, took it to 44-16 and the defensive pressure removed.  However, the scoring rate barely subsided with some outstanding passing from Molley Gould and Redhead providing scoring opportunities.  The vastly improved Cheyenne Deridisi showed great energy at both ends of the court and a score from Herd brought the loudest cheer as her team led 54-22 at half time.

Bennett and Powell again led the way as a 13-2 run took the lead over 40.  Annim and Gould dominated the rebounds and with Tegan Jackson and Gould both finding the basket, it was 73-30 after seven minutes.  Coyotes replied with the next four but a late flourish, with four more for Annim made it 79-36 with one stanza remaining.

Bennett and Powell sat out the remainder of the game and when Redhead made a three-pointer, she too retired to the bench.  Herd and Annim finished off proceedings at 94-48 against a much improved team that will probably win more games than they lose this season.  Again, an excellent points spread with Bennett on 19, Powell and Annim 18 (the latter a career high), Redhead 16 and Deridisi 10.

4th & 5th OCTOBER 2014

U15 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE  SOUTH 1

HACKNEY WHITE HEAT   50    SOUTHEND SWIFTS  68

Swifts Under 15 boys team travelled to London for their first game of the new season against Hackney White Heat, a club with a long tradition of producing excellent male teams at all levels.  However, this particular Hackney team has only just been formed and is relatively inexperienced at National League level so Swifts would prove to be an ideal test as this is their 3rd season in the National League.

Swifts made a superb start scoring straight from the tip off and then rattling off another 16 points without reply to lead 18-0 after 6 minutes, with Matt Kerridge and Joel Bailey combining particularly well to contribute 12 of those points. A change of personnel by Swifts unsurprisingly slowed the momentum and the hosts regained their composure enough to get some points on the board by the end of the 1st period to trail 10-20.

The 2nd period was exactly even at 12-12 with all of Swifts players having had good court time. The 3rd period was dominated by Swifts with Matt Kerridge continuing to regularly find the basket and Jacob Thorne almost unstoppable on the offensive boards. Joel Bailey found his team mates with some excellent passes as well as making some successful penetrative drives to the basket resulting in a healthy 56-30 lead at the end of the 3rd period. With the game virtually won the visitors did relax a little and gave their bench some valuable court time which resulted in White Heat gaining some real confidence outscoring Swifts 20-12 in the final period which made the final score of 50-68 much more respectable from their perspective.

For White Heat their outstanding point guard C.Steele scored 25 points and their team improved considerably during the game which bodes well for them in this very tough league. For Swifts, Kerridge 21, Bailey. 15 and Thorne 13  played with great maturity, well supported by debutant Albert Taylor 7pts and Lewis Jeffery 4pts. The other club debutant, Adam Liddell showed his immense potential with some excellent defensive work as well as his first points for the club.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 57  HARINGEY ANGELS 52

After a one-sided opening encounter, Southend Swifts under 16 girls knew they would be in for a much harder task when they entertained perennial champions Haringey Angels to their home court at Seevic College.  Southend welcomed Zoe Willis back into the line-up for the first time this season having been out with a wrist injury.

Swifts had the better of the opening exchanges leading 10-4 as Willis found her touch around the basket but Haringey replied with the next six to take their first lead.  They maintained their one point advantage before four points from Kacey Realf took the home side 16-13 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

An Amber Evans score kept the margin at three before Angels had a strong spell to move out to 22-20 with only Willis and Evans finding their range.  Scoring opportunities were squandered and at half time, the London side led 29-24.

But Southend came out with great determination.  Carlie Abbott scored from close range and with the defensive intensity much improved, the deficit was extinguished after five minutes of the third quarter.  Shannon Brook came off the bench to provide much needed energy and a Grace Crook score and some outstanding foul shooting from captain Evans made it 43-39 going into the final period.

With Willis scoring eight very rapid points and Chelsea Locke converting a tough inside play, the lead was 53-41 with five minutes to play.  However, Southend know only too well that Haringey teams never know when they are beaten.  They had nine straight points so that with three minutes to play the margin was just three.  With nerves prevailing, neither team would score for two minutes.     

Swifts patient offence looked like it would result in a 24 second call against them before Willis threw up a Hail Mary from 35 feet that found its’ way into the basket that effectively clinched a very hard earned win.  Willis with 33 points and Evans 13 and double figure rebounding, leading the way.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

PECKHAM PRIDE 63  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65

After the excitement of the under 16 game earlier, a number of the players got onto the bus to join their under 18 colleagues to travel into London to take on Peckham Pride at the very impressive City of London Academy.  Peckham have made very rapid strides in the girls’ game and the introduction of players from other clubs would certainly give them a boost.  With a very noisy and partisan crowd, and with Swifts missing Louise Corfield and Charlotte Bennett, this would certainly provide a very tough test,

Peckham took an early 6-2 lead before Southend made seven straight culminating with a Megan Jones three-pointer.  Three from four from the foul line for Deanna Blake maintained the momentum and at the end of the first quarter, Swifts led 14-9.

However, the second period would see a change of fortunes.  Southend struggled to get good looks at the basket and with foul shot opportunities missed, just four from twelve successes, the hosts took advantage at hold a 27-24 lead at the midway interval.

The third period would see a major change.  Jones and Claire Gold started to exert their authority on the game.  Rebounds were taken and foul shots made and a 10-2 run over the last three minutes saw the visitors lead 43-39 going into the final stanza.

Moreover, if that was good the next two minutes saw Jones put in a performance that was as purple as the kit she was wearing.  The young lady had all 11 points in that time as her team led 54-39.  Even when she was harshly adjudged to have committed her 5th foul, forcing her to leave proceedings, her team still increased their lead to 58-42 with five minutes to play.  But suddenly panic started to step in as the noise in the gym got louder.  Peckham had the next six and with Swifts only managing 50% foul shooting, the comeback was on.    With two minutes to play, it was 62-56 before the hosts had the next five to make it a one-point game.  Gold scored from an excellent Amber Evans pass but the hosts replied.  With 14 seconds to play, Zoe Willis made one foul shot giving the London side the last shot.  But Swifts defence remained firm and they recorded a surprising if well-deserved win.  Jones with 27 points and Gold 19 leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 14 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

NORFOLK ICENI 10  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 107

A depleted Southend Swifts under 14 girls team made the long journey to Norfolk to take on the home town Iceni in their first league match of the season.

After conceding the first basket, the young Swifts sprang into action.  Eleven points after three minutes, twenty after six and 30 after eight and the pressure defence was removed; a scoreline of 40-2 after the first quarter giving an idea of the speed and dexterity of the team.

Georgia Powell and Charlotte Redhead had shared 33 of the points scored and they sat out the whole of the second quarter, giving their less-experienced team mates the opportunity to shine.  And they needed no second asking as Cheyenne Deridisi, Molley Gould, Tegan Jackson and Eleanor Butt all found their scoring touch that took their team 62-4 ahead at half time.

The third quarter saw no fast breaks as Southend looked to practice different options.  Lilly Annim showed her prowess at both ends of the court and with Redhead making two three-pointers in the period, the margin increased to 83-8.

Never wishing to “run up” a cricket score, Swifts further limited their scoring options by restricting their players to largely shooting from distance, with Redhead and Powell combining for three further long-range efforts.  The final margin of 107-10 saw five players in double figures with 12 year old Redhead ending with a career high 37 points.


27th &28th SEPTEMBER 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 16 GIRLS – SOUTH 1 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86  COUNTY UPPER COYOTES 11

Southend Swifts under 16 girls were the clubs’ first team with a home fixture when they welcomed County Upper Coyotes to Seevic College.  Southend were not at full strength with both Grace Crook and Zoe Willis missing from the line-up.

However, Swifts were determined to get their season off with a bang.  Seven points in the first minute and then 27 straight after County Upper managed their only score of the first quarter. Repeatedly tenacious defence was turned into very rapid offence, as the hosts scored at will.  Captain Amber Evans, Kacey Realf and Rhian Simpson dominated around both baskets with the lead at 34-3 at the end of the first quarter.

Soon the defensive intensity stopped as another 16 unanswered points were reeled off.  Evans sat down for good, midway through the second quarter, when the margin had increased to 52-5.  The third period was even stranger as Southend would not even score from fast breaks but they still ran in all 17 points scored.

The final quarter saw the valiant Coyotes get into double figures, with Swifts still holding themselves back, scoring just 18 points.  An 86-11 winning margin was really of limited help for more difficult encounters that lie ahead.  Evans with 17 points and Simpson 14 leading the scoring.

NATIONAL LEAGUE UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54  SEVENOAKS SUNS 77

After a comfortable victory in their first game of the season, Southend Swifts under 18 girls knew they would be in for a much harder afternoon when Sevenoaks Suns were the visitors.

Captain Louise Corfield kept her team in the game with some outstanding three-point shooting.  Her second long-range effort tied the game at 10 in the sixth minute before the teams traded baskets for Sevenoaks to lead 20-16 at the first break.

Clare Gold and Corfield again from distance kept the margin at four as the teams battled for supremacy in the second period.  The effervescent Charlotte Bennett was forced to sit out with three fouls but Southend maintained their poise and at half time, the margin was just six at 35-29.

With Megan Jones finally finding her range it was just 39-25 after three minutes but suddenly Sevenoaks found their range and they went on a 13-0 run that blew the game open.  Swifts managed just five more points in the period as Sevenoaks held a 59-40 advantage going into the final stanza.

Although the defensive intensity improved in the final quarter, Southend could never get close enough to exert pressure as they fell to a disappointing loss by 76 points to 54.  Corfield with 18 points, Gold 13 and Jones 11 leading the scoring.


12th & 13th APRIL 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE U14 GIRLS PLAY OFFS QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 82  NOTTINGHAM WILDCATS 40

An unbeaten league record and number one seeding gave Southend Swifts under 14 girls home court advantage for their quarter final playoff game.  Nevertheless, they also knew that it would count for nothing if they failed to produce on the day.  Their opponents were Nottingham Wildcats, a club of huge pedigree in girls’ basketball, with a number of their players in England squads.

In front of a packed gym, both teams made a nervous start, with Southend leading just 4-3 after three minutes.  But then the home side clicked into gear, with Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell starting to get to the basket.  They shared the next 11 points, as Wildcats were kept scoreless for four minutes.  The introduction of Chelsea Locke upped Swifts defensive intensity and four points from Grace Crook, on the end of some superb team play, saw Southend with a 25-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After conceding the first basket, Southend showed just what they could do.  Tenacious defence was turned into very rapid offence as they scored 14 unanswered points that effectively ended the contest.  Rhian Simpson seemed to cover every inch of the court defensively and with Katie Bennett showing her maturity defensively, it was time to make personnel changes.  Charlotte Redhead had eight very quick points as Swifts led by a very unexpected 47-15 at half time.

The young ladies wanted to end their home campaign with a resounding victory.  Captain Amelia Wilson as always led from the front, playing outstanding defence, as the margin increased to 60-18.  Shannon Brook and Cheyenne Deridisi came in to add energy and Deridisi and Bennett both finished off superb fast breaks as Swifts led 66-22 going into the final quarter.

Despite the starters sitting out, Redhead and Bennett kept the scoring going and a foul shot from Eleanor Butt took it to 75-26.  A three-pointer from Redhead and a closer in score made it 80-30 but unsurprisingly the intensity dropped allowing Wildcats to have the next 10 points.  Fittingly, the starters came back in for the last 90 seconds and a basket from Simpson was the final effort as Swifts took the applause from both sets of supporters in recognition of an outstanding 82-40 victory.  Ellmore with 22 points, Powell 20 and Redhead 17 leading another exceptional team performance.

NATIONAL LEAGUE U18 GIRLS PLAY OFFS QUARTER FINAL

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 108  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 50

After the euphoria of their under 14 club mates, it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 18 girls to try to reach the Final Fours.  They had the most difficult of tasks, visiting unbeaten Hertfordshire Warriors, an excellent team with a reputation of playing very aggressive defence.

After the teams traded opening three-point shots, Hertfordshire took over proceedings with nine straight points to lead 12-3.  A time out and change of defensive formation stemmed the tide but with the Southend players regularly finding themselves on the floor, it was certainly difficult to get any offensive fluency.  From 18-12, Hertfordshire’s Beth Sarson had the next nine points as her team moved out to a 29-14 first quarter lead.

With Megan and Abbie Jones both surprisingly finding themselves on three fouls, Swifts were forced into player changes as the deficit began to increase.  Warriors were putting runs together that were deflating Swifts and despite three successive foul shots from Amber Evans at the end of the second quarter, the margin stood at 54-28 at half time.

Still Warriors aggressive defence was deemed legal by the match officials, preventing Southend getting close to the basket before a run of 17 points either side of the break between the final two quarters confirmed the inevitable.  A final defeat of 108-50 was naturally disappointing but did not detract from another fine season at this age level.

NATIONAL LEAGUE U16 GIRLS PLAY OFFS QUARTER FINAL

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 91  HOUNSLOW HAWKS 61

So with the under 14s already qualified, Southend Swifts under 16 girls had their opportunity to reach the Final Fours in May.  Their opponents were Hounslow Hawks, second in the South Division and coming off the back of a 20 point win in the first round of the play-offs.

A nervous start saw Hounslow take a 4-2 lead before Southend began to exert their authority.  Four points from captain Megan Jones and scores from Daisy Herd and Amber Evans made it 10-4 after three minutes and with Charlotte Bennett finding her colleagues with some outstanding passes, it was 17-7 with three minutes to go.  Hawks’ change of defensive formation had the desired effect, slowing down the scoring rate, and at the end of the first quarter, Swifts’ lead was 23-15.

However, the break between the first two periods would have a remarkable effect.  A three-pointer from Jones was followed by three baskets for Bennett.  Two Zoe Willis scores were either side of another long range Jones effort and it was 16 straight points in five minutes and the job effectively done.  Emma Pallett was doing a superb defensive job on Hounslow’s excellent captain Chantelle Fernandes as well as creating opportunities for her team mates and when she hit a three-pointer and Claire Gold scored off a fast break, it was 44-23 at half time.

Jones started the third quarter with another trademark three and with Pallett and Evans scoring from close range the margin approached 30.  Five more from Jones stopped a Hounslow run of three straight baskets but when the captain was harshly judged for her 5th foul, the margin should have been enough to secure victory.  Willis, still finding her rhythm after an ankle injury, had the next five and with Evans and Bennett making their foul shots it was 66-38, although another good spell for the visitors reduced the deficit to 68-44 with one stanza remaining.

Swifts were determined to end their home campaign on a high.  A three-pointer from Bennett was followed by scores from Pallett, Gold and Willis and it was 86-48.  The whole squad was able to get onto court and although Hounslow had the final nine points, there was no way back as Southend took their place at the big dance with a 91-61 victory.  Bennett with 22 points, Willis on 20 with her best performance since returning and Jones on 18 leading the scoring.  


5th & 6th APRIL 2014

NATIONAL LEAGUE U14 BOYS PLAY OFFS 1ST ROUND

WORTHING THUNDER 107   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 74

After a long journey to the South coast, Southend Swifts U14 Boys took on undefeated South 1 League winners Worthing Thunder in a last 16 1st Round National League Play Off game. Swifts were missing Victor Adebaye, Lewis Jeffery and Matty Nicholls but were still hopeful of causing an upset.

The hosts started well with an aggressive full court press resulting in a couple of early scores for them but Dan Adebayo replied with an early score of his own. There was a Worthing 7-1 run before Adebayo scored again which meant that Swifts found themselves 5-13 down after just 3 minutes. Swifts big men, Jacob Thorne, Matt Kerridge and Alex Skingle at last started to find the basket but the visitors struggled to stop their hosts scoring and found themselves 19-31 down at the end of the 1st period.

The 2nd period followed a similar pattern to the first with Swifts finding the basket quite well but failing to stop their athletic and skilful opponents from scoring despite their best defensive efforts. The half time 36-60 deficit was going to be very tough to pull back for the weakened Swifts in the 2nd half but they never gave up. Tremendous efforts on the boards at both ends by Thorne, Kerridge and Skingle, ably supported by Adebayo and Volk in the back court kept things a little closer in the 2nd half but Worthing eventually ran out deserved winners 107-74. The young Swifts were by no means disgraced and can be pleased with a very good season in a tough age group.

Top scorers: Kerridge 18, Thorne 17, Adebayo 17, Skingle 12


UNDER 16 GIRLS PLAY-OFFS 1ST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 81  STOCKPORT LAPWINGS 46

So after the rigours of the regular season, it is now play-off time, where cross-conference games are played, with the winners going on to the biggest youth event in the country; the Final Fours in Sheffield on the weekend of 5th and 6th May.  For Southend Swifts under 16 girls, playing in a four conference league, they have two rounds to reach the big prize.

Southend held one of the top seedings, meaning their opponents were Stockport Lapwings, who were 4th in the Northern Conference.  The team from the North West have a long pedigree in girls basketball, so a difficult encounter was expected.

A slightly nervous start saw the visitors score the only two points in the opening two minutes before Swifts got into gear.  Daisy Herd and Charlotte Bennett scored from close range and a three-pointer from Megan Jones made it 7-4.  Lapwings replied but Southend had the next 12, culminating with an Emma Pallett three and it was 19-6 after six minutes.  The Essex side were determined to settle the tie early and two further long-range efforts from Jones and six points from Bennett made it 36-14 at the end of the first quarter.

Six points from Clare Gold and two scores from Zoe Willis made it 46-17 and it was time to relax the defence.  The scoring rate subsided and at half time the lead stood at 53-27.

As always Southend took the opportunity of giving all of their players court time.  Jones had another trey before she left the game for good leaving Amber Evans to takeover the scoring mantle.  Bennett, too, sat down for good midway through the third period at the end of which Swifts led 69-35.

Stockport, to their credit, continued to work hard with Fiona Connolly and Kirsty pre prominent throughout the contest.   Ten of the home players got themselves onto the scoresheet as Southend recorded a very comfortable 81-46 win that puts them into the quarter finals.  Bennett with 17 points, Jones 16 and Gold 14 leading the scoring.


15th & 16th MARCH 2014

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

HARINGEY ANGELS 0  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 20

A bizarre start to the weekend games.  Southend Swifts under 18 teams travelled into London to take on Haringey Angels, arriving at the statutory one hour before the game.  Haringey were duly there and even the match officials eventually appeared.  The only problem was there was a power cut in the area and there were no lights in the sports hall.

Both teams waited for an hour in the hope that power would be restored but without success.  Southend have reluctantly accepted the win as there is insufficient time to replay the match.

UNDER 14 BOYS - SOUTH 2 CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 81  NASSA  66

After two consecutive defeats, Southend Swifts under 14 boys team found themselves in a make or break situation in their last regular season game at Eastwood on Saturday. Swifts had to win to reach the Play Offs but their opponents, NASSA had already beaten them earlier in the season so it was going to be a tough task.

NASSA started the better with two scores in the first minute but Lukas Volk redressed the balance with consecutive baskets. For the next 6 minutes the teams traded baskets with NASSA establishing a narrow 15-14 lead.  A Swifts 6-0 run in the last minute with scores from Matt Kerridge, Victor Adebiyi and Lewis Jeffery gave them a promising lead at the end of the first period.

The second period proved to be the most crucial of the game when Swifts went on an outstanding 17-4 run in the first 5 minutes with the main contributions again coming from Volk, Kerridge and Adebiyi. The visitors regained their composure and fought back with a 7-2 run but 3 consecutive scores from Jacob Thorne saw Swifts finish the half with a 49-30 lead.

So often this season the 3rd period has been pivotal in the outcome of games so Southend were determined to press home their advantage in this vital game. A 14-4 run in the first 6 minutes was the perfect start thanks to Alex Skingle finding the basket at last and 7 points from Dan Adebayo. However, NASSA were not giving up and a 9-0 run at the end of the period brought them back to within 20 points at 45-65.

The final quarter started well for Swifts with point guard Volk and forwards Kerridge and Adebiyi controlling play at both ends of the court to help their team establish a 25 point lead after 5 minutes. With the game safely under their control, Swifts ran their bench and scores from Nick Skinner and Jamie Rombaut was the result. A late rally from NASSA allowed them to win the quarter but did not affect the result, which in the end was a very good win and a berth in the Play Offs for the hosts.

Top Scorers : Volk 22, Adebiyi 14, Kerridge 12, Adebayo 11, Thorne 9

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 66  BARKING AND DAGENHAM THUNDER 55

For their penultimate game of the season, Southend Swifts under 18 men welcomed Barking and Dagenham Thunder to their home court.  Barking had won the earlier contest by 23 points and with Southend seeking to limit the number of minutes for Brad Wood, this was certain to be a difficult task.

After Swifts opened the scoring with a Sam Read three-pointer, Thunder took the initiative with six straight points.  Defence was certainly to the fore, with those the only nine points in the opening seven minutes.  A 6-3 run for the hosts was barely NBA scoring and at the end of the first quarter, Southend led 9-8.  Of much greater concern was a shoulder injury for point guard Louie Davies, that would rule him out of the rest of the game.

Points remained at a premium in the second period.  A pair of Josh Powell foul shots made it 14-15 after four minutes before scores from Matt Buckley and Powell took Swifts 20-19 ahead.  Southend gave 13 year old Daniel Adebayo his debut at this level and he responded with a steal and an offensive rebound much to the delight of his colleagues.  Barking hit back with five unanswered points and they held on to lead 25-23 at half time.

Thunder came out living up to their name to score the first seven points on the way to what they thought would be another comfortable victory.  But the introduction of Wood changed the whole complection of the match.  He made a foul shot followed by a Buckley lay-up before Barking replied to lead 34-26.  But Wood with a three-pointer and a lay-up, Read from mid-range, Wood an “and one” and consecutive three-pointers from Wood and Dan Davies made it 16 straight and a 42-34 lead.  Thunder had the next four and with 10 minutes to play. Southend led 43-38.

But Barking were not finished.  In the opening three minutes, they made a 13-2 run that gave them a six point lead.  Wood again came off the bench and made a pair of foul shots to lift his team.  Davies made a lay-up but Thunder had the next four and with five minutes remaining it was 55-49.  But Liam Jones, a tower of strength at the defensive end, made a close in score followed by a steal and lay-up whilst being fouled and it was a one point deficit.    

Thunder applied pressure defence but were forced to foul and with Read making his two it was 57-55 going into the final minute.  Swifts got the ball into Wood’s hands and he was fouled on four occasions, making the eight foul shots that gave his team the unlikeliest of victories.  Wood will get the plaudits for 24 points in 14 minutes of play, but this was a fine team effort with every player making a contribution.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

NORTHAMPTON ELITE TITANS 33  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 63

So after seventeen victories, Southend Swifts under 14 girls had the opportunity of being the only unbeaten team in the country at this age level.  They travelled to Northampton Elite Titans, a vastly improved team, who are on third place in the league table with play-off aspirations of their own.

With Southend understandably nervous, points were in very short supply early on.  After five minutes, Swifts led just 6-4 before scores from Georgia Powell, Charlotte Ellmore and Rhian Simpson took them 11-4 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

A pair of Chelsea Locke foul shots and another Simpson lay-up made the lead double digit before five straight for Titans gave their very vociferous support reason for optimism.  However, this just strengthened Swifts resolve.  In the remaining seven minutes, they showed why the hold the position they do.  A pair of  

Powell foul shots were followed by scores for Simpson, Katie Bennett, Ellmore and Locke and it was 25-9.  Titans replied before the visitors had the final nine points to lead 34-11 at half time; Locke showing her offensive prowess with eight points in the period.

With the pressure relieved, there was less intensity in the third quarter.  Bennett and Locke scored well from the foul line and the margin increased to 44-17.  Titans, to their credit, continued to play hard and they had three baskets in a row to reduce the deficit before Shannon Brook made a foul shot that gave her team a 45-23 lead going into the final stanza.

The young ladies wanted to finish the league season in style.  Charlotte Redhead and Grace Crook had four apiece and 10 straight points in three minutes took the lead above 30.  All 12 players got court time in the win, which is just the start of the aims for the season.  The 63-33 win was a fitting end against a team that will certainly be a much-needed force in the girls game in years to come.  Locke with 14 points, Powell 12 and Ellmore 11 leading the nicely balanced scoring.


8th & 9th MARCH 2014

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

BRENTWOOD FIRE 61  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 65

For their penultimate game of the season, Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the relatively short trip to Brentwood to take on the team third in the table and with play-off aspirations of their own.

Foe once, Southend missed early scoring opportunities, giving the home side confidence as they held the advantage.  Georgia Powell found her touch and she had her team’s first seven points as her team trailed by one.  The introduction of Charlotte Redhead brought some more scoring options as she made a three-point shot but Brentwood replied with a Hail Mary on the buzzer to hold an 18-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Swifts made a much better start to the second period with Redhead, Powell and Charlotte Ellmore scoring well.  Powell, in particular, had little difficulty getting through the Brentwood defence and had her accuracy been closer to its normal level, may well have put the game away on her own.  The lead began to increase and at half time stood at 35-28.

The start of the third quarter was much more disappointing as Southend conceded early baskets.  Powell again stemmed the tide but foul trouble for Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson, the two tallest players, was causing concern.  Brentwood took advantage to narrow the margin and with 10 minutes remaining, Swifts lead was just 50-47.

Despite the closeness of the game, Swifts maintained their composure. A fast break score from Simpson and a Redhead mid range shot took the margin to five and with Ellmore finally getting to the basket, the lead went to eight. Despite the loss of Crook and Simpson to five fouls, Chelsea Locke showed her battling qualities by dominating the rebounding with Powell.  A further Powell basket from close range and a pair of Ellmore foul shots put the game beyond doubt as Swifts recorded victory that was much closer than was expected.

The sign of a good team is to win when not playing well and that was exactly the performance on the day. Powell with a season high 31 points and Ellmore 18 leading the scoring.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84  BRIXTON TOPCATS 46

An injury and availability crisis across the girls programme meant no fewer than ten regular players could not take their place in Southend Swifts under 18 game against Brixton Topcats.  Southend being forced to field three under 14 players who had been in action earlier in the day.

Unsurprisingly it was a disjointed start as Swifts found themselves 10-4 down after seven minutes, with only Amber Evans finding the target.  However, suddenly things turned around.  Deanna Blake and Kacey Realf both had four points in a 10-0 run and at half time, the hosts led 14-11.

A Lucy Brown three-point shot started the second period and with Emma Pallett upping her defensive intensity to stop Brixton’s influential guard Johnson, Swifts began to get clear.  A further eight straight made it 24-13 and with Blake and Evans continuing to find the basket it was 38-23 at half time.

There are times when players take opportunities that are not always available.  Brown and Blake, wonderful club members, realised this was their day to shine, and they did as they shared the first 10 points of the third quarter.  The youngsters came in and Charlotte Ellmore hit from 15 feet.  Evans scored from outside the arc and Georgia Powell had a rapid five points as her team led 62-35 going into the final 10 minutes.

This time it was Brown scoring at will as she took her team’s lead close to 40.  The elder stateswomen sat out after five minutes leaving the very young ones to see out the remainder of the game, which they duly did to record an 84-46 victory that says everything about the strength in depth of the club.

Brown with a career high 19 points, Blake 16 and Evans 15 leading the well-balanced scoring.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SURREY STEELERS 24  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 87

After the selection problems the previous day, there were even more difficulties for Southend Swifts under 18 girls, with no fewer than 12 of the squad unavailable for various reasons.  Southend’s club numbers are such that they were able to call upon further club members to ensure the game took place.

A fairly slow start saw Swifts score just five points in the first four minutes, but these were the only points scored by either team.  Lucy Brown continued her rich vein of scoring with seven straight  and with Louise Corfield shooting well from the foul line, it was 15-6 at the end of the first quarter.

The second period was much more fluent.  An and-one for Corfield was followed by a pair of Amber Evans foul shots before three successive three-pointers from the same players and captain Fay Solkhon made it 30-8.  Changes pf personnel had little effect as Bethany Wheeler also scored from outside the arc as her team led 40-14 at half time.

The third quarter was largely the same.  Sasha Cornell scored her first points at this age level and Kacey Realf continued her rapid expansion with numerous rebounds.  13 year old Charlotte Ellmore shared the ball handling duties with Solkhon against Steelers aggressive defence and constantly found her colleagues for scores as well as finding the basket herself.  The scoring was spread throughout the team as the margin grew to 63-20 with one stanza remaining.

It was really just a case of damage limitation for both teams.  Brown again came to the fore as Corfield and Solkhon sat down and with Realf and Ellmore adding to their tally, Swifts ended the day with a surprisingly comfortable  victory of 87-24 given the make-up of their team on the day.  Corfield with 21 points, Brown with a new career high of 20 and Evans 15 leading the scoring.


1st & 2nd MARCH 2014

UNDER 16 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 61 LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS III 74

The under 16s looked to avenge a defeat earlier in the season to London Greenhouse Pioneers III when they welcomed them to Eastwood on Saturday.

The opening exchanges gave the away team an eight point lead as only Paul Jeboda and Jamie Matthews found their way onto the scoresheet as their side trailed 13-5 after five minutes.  Matthews would score a further three points, but the only other Swift to register a basket was Dan Davies as the home side faced a 19-10 deficit at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started brighter for the hosts as a 5-2 run behind scores for Scott Williams, Josh Powell and Davies, took the score to 20-15.  Good offensive play from Swifts with a much improved press break narrowed the scores at 28-26 as Williams, Matthews and Jeboda all reaped the rewards of flowing passing moves.  However, the visitors closed out the half with a 6-0 run to lead 34-26.

A positive start to the second half from Swifts go them back to trailing by two at 37-35 behind scores from Matthews, Tom Butt, Williams and Davies.  However, they would struggle to find much offensive output for the remainder of the quarter whilst Pioneers enjoyed fast break scores to lead 57-44 with one quarter remaining.

The final period opening with a Powell three-pointer, but then a 7-0 run for Pioneers.  Davies, Williams, Matthews and Harry Harwood all scored in an 8-2 run to take the margin to 68-55, but the contest was all but over.  Further scores from Harwood, Butt and Matthews kept the score respectable as Swifts suffered a 74-61 defeat.

Matthews led the way with an impressive 18 points, followed by Davies with 12 and Williams with 9.


UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS  44   BRENTWOOD FIRE  110

After an excellent one point win over 2nd in the league Medway Crusaders in their previous game, Southend Swifts under 14 boys hosted undefeated league leaders Brentwood Fire on Saturday. At their previous encounter in January, Swifts had given Brentwood a scare after leading at half time and then eventually losing by just 10 points, so were hopeful of a possible upset against their much more experienced opponents. It was not to be, as Fire had obviously taken the previous result seriously and were not about to underestimate their opponents again.

Fire started with great intensity and scored straight from the tip off, further quick scores from Ross Luckman in particular saw Brentwood with a 10 point lead after just 2 minutes so a time out was called to regroup. Swifts having hardly drawn breath let alone threatened the basket. After the restart. scores from Dan Adebayo, Jacob Thorne and Lewis Jeffery brought some respectability but the aggressive pressing defence combined with the skill and athleticism of their opponents made scoring for Southend very difficult and Fire were almost out of sight with a 31-13 lead at the end of the first period.

A similarly intense start to the second period from the visitors resulted in a 14-0 run in 5 minutes and only consecutive scores from Matty Nicholls temporarily slowed their momentum.  Swifts tried hard to penetrate their opponents defence and drew quite a number fouls in the process but scoring only 6 from 14 free throws awarded in the last 4 minutes of the half did not help their cause as they found themselves 23-55 down and the game rapidly slipping away.

There was no let up in the second half as Fire continued to dominate at both ends of the floor. Swifts season's top scorer Alex Skingle at last found the basket with a couple of scores as did point guard Lukas Volk but that was all and with Luckman almost unstoppable Fire piled on the agony for the hosts and established an unassailable 80-31 lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.

Swifts never gave up and fought hard all game but their opponents proved why they are rated as one of the top teams in the country and clearly showed their much less experienced opponents that they still had a lot to learn.  Swifts Top Scorers: Volk 11, Adebayo, Nicholls 6, Thorne 6.

 

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SEVENOAKS SUNS 77  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 25

A very depleted Southend Swifts under 18 girls team made the trip south to take on Sevenoaks Suns, the team surely destined to do the treble at this age group this season.

After a fine performance the previous week, Southend showed little appetite for the contest.  Shooting opportunities were turned down giving Sevenoaks the initiative as they opened an 18 point lead in the first quarter.  The second period was little better as they went scoreless for the last seven minutes to trail 40-8 at half time.

The second half saw a bit more spirit, although Suns took the opportunity to rest their more experienced players.  The margin of defeat will have little effect on Swifts play-off hopes but they will need a considerable improvement in their remaining games.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 66  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 42

So the final game of a very tough club weekend was effectively the most vital.  Southend Swifts under 16 girls had their final league game of the season knowing they needed a win to clinch their conference championship.  And to do it, they had to overcome the absence of captain Megan Jones and lead guard Emma Pallett on school trips and injured Charlotte Bennett and Zoe Willis as well as the league’s most improved team, London Greenhouse Pioneers.  Swifts fielding four of their under 14 team in the line-up.

After a nervous start, Southend had the next eight points, culminating with an Amber Evans three-point shot.  When the same player made a pair of foul shots, the lead was 10-4.  But Pioneers had the next six and after six minutes the scores were tied at 10.   Daisy Herd came to the fore, with seven of her team’s next eight points before London side had the next four and it was 18-16 with seconds remaining   But Swifts ball movement found 13 year old Georgia Powell open and she made a three-point shot that took her team 21-16 ahead.

The second period was equally tense.  Claire Gold was forced to sit out having damaged her wrist in the earlier game and then Carlie Abbott was carried from the court with what turned out to be extensive ligament damage and the lead just four at 25-21.  But out of adversity came strength.  Evans scored inside and Kacey Realf found the basket from 12 feet.  Gold came back in and had the next three and suddemly the margin was 10 at 33-23 at half time.

But there was no room for complacency.  A Charlotte Ellmore three-pointer, another of the under 14s, took the margin to 12  but Pioneers had the next six and it was 39-33 after four minutes.  Once again Southend upped the intensity.  Four points from Evans triggered a 9-3 run and with one stanza remaining, it was 48-36.

After the teams traded the openings scores, Swifts finally stamped their authority on the game.  Evans, Herd and Gold all found the target and suddenly the lead was above 20 and the spectators, if not the team, could breathe out.  With three minutes to play Evans came out to prolonged applause for possibly her finest game for the club, and the game ended with all four under 14 players on court, Ellmore having directed operations for the whole 40 minutes.

Evans with a career high 26 points, Gold 16 and Herd 11 led the scoring on an outstanding club day, showing the strength in depth.  The team now have four weeks to recover their injuries before the start of the play-offs.


22nd & 23rd FEBRUARY 2014

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 47   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70

Once again Southend Swifts under 14 girls were on their travels, this time to third in the table Hertfordshire Warriors, who were coming off of four straight wins.  To make matters even more difficult, Southend were missing Katie Bennett, Chelsea Locke and Georgia Powell, all on school trips.

However, this just gives other players the opportunity to step forward.  Charlotte Redhead, starting for the first time at this age level, opened the scoring with an 16 foot shot, and her team’s defence took hold, she had a further six points as Swifts scored the first 12 points.  Charlotte Ellmore again showed outstanding control as she continually found her team mates and after seven minutes it was 17-2 and the job effectively done; the scoreline at the end of the first quarter showing 19-8.

Captain Amelia Wilson had the opening five points, including a first-ever three pointer, as the margin increased despite the home side using a defensive formation normally deemed illegal at this age level.  Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson dominated the rebounds as Southend had another 12 straight and with Shannon Brook, Cheyenne Deridisi and Molley Gould all finishing well the lead at half time stood at 38-16.

The third period saw some dazzling team play from Swifts, despite a more passive defence.  They got around Warriors defensive configuration with some wonderful passing as Ellmore showed her continuing maturity.  And when there was no way through, year 7 pupil Redhead connected from distance, making five mid-range shots in the quarter.  Simpson had an and-one off of a circus shot and with one quarter remaining it was 62-31.

Once again, Southend took the opportunity to give their younger players extended court time.  Tegan Jackson and Eleanor Butt again showed their improvement as their team coasted to a 70-47 win that makes it 16 wins so far.  Redhead with a national league career high of 20 points and Crook with 19 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

GREENWICH TITANS 48  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

Having beaten Greenwich by 45 points at home earlier in the season, Southend Swifts under 14 boys were confident that of securing victory despite missing a few key players due to holidays.  They were further lifted by playing the game at the excellent Olympic Legacy facilities at Thomas Tallis School, Bexleyheath.

Swifts started with an immediate score from the tip by Dan Adebayo but the hosts replied with a 7-0 run to send a message to their visitors that they were not going down without a fight!  Baskets from Alex Skingle, Jacob Thorne and Joel Bailey restored the balance but Swifts were unable stop Titans from scoring and found themselves one point adrift after 8 minutes before scores from Thorne and Adebayo took Southend to a slim 19-16 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second period followed a similar pattern with neither team able to take control of the game.  The hosts struggled to cope with the height of Thorne and Skingle and inevitably fouled but Swifts failed to capitalise by shooting really poorly from the foul line.  Greenwich just edged the period and drew the game level at 32-32 at half time.

As with many games this season, the 3rd period was decisive and Swifts made sure they had the upper hand by dominating with some excellent offence and a very good pressing defence.  The combination play of forwards Skingle and Thorne took Swifts on an 8-0 run in the first 4 minutes of the period.  Despite a minor comeback from Titans, the Essex side continued to dominate through the athleticism and individual skill of Adebayo and steals and conversions from Bailey and Nick Skinner to close out the period with a commanding 12 point lead at 54-42.

Despite giving their bench players some much needed court time, Swifts pressing defence continued to pay dividends as they went on a match winning 12-0 run which included 3 consecutive scores by Adebayo in one minute!  Final scores from Fred Lyons and Josh Dalton helped seal the victory by a comfortable 71-48 margin.  Top scorers: Thorne 20, Skingle 19, Adebayo 16, Bailey 9.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

GREENWICH TITANS 55  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 66

Just like their under 14 clubmates, Southend Swifts  under 16 boys also travelled to Greenwich Titans looking to take the season sweep following their victory earlier in the season.

Swifts started brightly, sharing the ball to get scores from Paul Jeboda, Tom Butt and Declan Gould to lead 8-2 after four minutes.  Titans hit back with the next basket, but Swifts closed the quarter with an 11-4 run to lead 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Butt opened the scoring in the second quarter and Archie Hoyi got himself on the scoresheet as his side led 23-12.  A free-throw from Jeboda and back-to-back scores for Gould extending the lead to 28-14.  With a healthy margin established, the two sides traded baskets for the remainder of the half as Southend led 36-20.

However, a change in defensive pressure for Titans gave them an 11-2 start to the second half, with Jamie Matthews scoring Swifts' solitary basket of the first six minutes.  With limited fluidity on offense, Swifts struggled to move the ball effectively and their margin of lead slipped to just two points with two minutes left in the quarter at 42-40.  A free-throw apiece from Scott Williams and Gould gave Swifts a 44-40 lead with one period remaining.

Greenwich continued their impressive second half display to bring the game to a one point margin at 46-45, before Matthews and Josh Powell gave Swifts some breathing space at 50-45.  Swifts conceded the next basket, but then went on a 10-0 run as they finally showed their passing skills, allowing them to get good looks at the basket.  Titans hit a three-pointer, but the margin would never drop below ten again as Swifts ended up with a 66-55 victory.

Jeboda led the way with 20 points, followed by Gould with 11 and Butt with 8.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79  BUCKS HORNETS 44

After a three week break, Southend Swifts under 16 girls were back in action when they welcomed Bucks Hornets to their home court.  Southend need to win their two remaining games in order to win the very competitive Midlands East Conference.

The lack of cohesion was evident at the start as Southend managed just four points.  Fortunately for them, Hornets managed just two themselves, so it was 4-2 when Swifts took a time out.  Whatever was said, had the desired effect as the home side suddenly clicked into gear.  They reeled off 20 points in five minutes, with some stunning passes, particularly from Charlotte Bennett.  Captain Megan Jones was the recipient of most of these as she had 20 points in the opening 10 minutes as her team led 24-5 at the first break.

The second period looked to be similar as Jones and Claire Gold combined for the first 10 points as the score stood at 33-7.  Southend were changing their players with regularity and Kacey Realf soon found herself on the scoresheet.  Under 14 Grace Crook had been given her debut at this level and she found the basket as Swifts lead 44-15 at half time.

With Jones sitting out the third quarter, the scoring was spread out with Bennett, Emma Pallett and Sasha Cornell all finding the basket.  Amber Evans, a tower of strength defensively, began to get clear at the other end of the court and with one quarter remaining, it was 60-28.

With the intensity dropping, under 14 Charlotte Ellmore began to find her colleagues with some beautiful passes.  Jones was again the fortunate recipient and she added a further 10 points as Swifts ran out comfortable 79-44 winners.  Jones with 37 and Bennett 14 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70  LEWISHAM THUNDER 44

With their three previous matches not taking place, Southend Swifts under 18 girls finally took to the court when they met Lewisham Thunder.  The London side have made huge improvements during the season and Southend knew they would have to be at their best to secure the win.

After the early exchanges, Swifts hit a purple patch, scoring 12 straight to lead 14-2; Louise Corfield looking particularly sharp.  But Thunder hit back and runs of six and seven, with just a pair of Megan Jones foul shots in between, reduced the deficit to just one at 16-15 before Corfield made three of four foul shots to give her team a four point lead at the end of the first quarter.

A scrappy start to the second period from both teams saw the score advance to just 23-20 after five minutes.  An and-one from Abbie Jones started a much more controlled spell and a pair of Corfield foul shots was followed by successive three-pointers from Megan Jones and Fay Solkhon to make it 35-24.  But Megan Jones hit her head on the floor in a collision and she left the court to take no further part in the game; the half time score standing at 37-26.

In the face of adversity, Swifts found their resolve.  Corfield from close range, another Solkhon three-pointer and five points from Abbie Jones and it was 47-29.  Lewisham hit back with six of the next eight but Corfield was in irrepressible form and she had a further eight points as the Essex side led 56-38 going into the final stanza.

But Thunder were never going to concede, so Southend could not be complacent.  Corfield and Solkhon shared the first six points and with some outstanding foul shooting, Swifts finally got clear.  The winning margin gives no indication of the difficulty of the task in what was one of the best girls game seen this season.  Corfield led the way with a career high 28 points, Megan Jones had 13, Abbie Jones 11 and Solkhon had double figures for some considerable time with 10.


15th & 16th FEBRUARY 2014

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

CITY OF BIRMINGHAM 27   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

With the postponement of the under 18 game, Southend Swifts under 14 girls were the only female team in action at the weekend.  They made the long, and wind-blown, trip to the Midlands to take on the City of Birmingham, who had a very close victory the previous week.  Southend were below strength, missing Katie Bennett and Georgia Powell, and Cheyenne Deridisi dropping out through injury.

The opening was less than fluent, before scores from Chelsea Locke and Rhian Simpson got Swifts on their way.  Simpson was very effective close to the basket and after five minutes, the lead was 12-5.  Charlotte Ellmore, having had a huge scoring game the previous week, was directing operations and she found captain Amelia Wilson for two tough fast break lay-ups that were part of an 8-0 run that took the team 20-5 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

The start of the second period saw continued dominance.  Locke had a further four points and Ellmore six as the margin went to 33-7.  Molley Gould, making her first appearance in a number of weeks, was getting clear on fast breaks and with six points from Grace Crook and baskets from Shannon Brook and Charlotte Redhead it was 43-13 at half time.

Crook and Simpson continued to dominate around the basket and they shared the first 10 points as the lead went to 53-17 midway through the third quarter.  Ellmore sat out with her day’s work completed, allowing Redhead and Wilson to handle the ball but this had little effect as the lead grew to 59-21 going into the final 10 minutes.

Eleanor Butt and Tegan Jackson were able to get extended court time as Swifts ran in the first 10 points.  Locke was given the opportunity of playing at point guard and much to everyone’s surprise, including her own, made an 18 foot shot.  Southend coasted through the remainder of the game to record a 72-27 win that leaves them clear at the top of the table.  Simpson with 20 points, Crook 18 and Locke 11 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 55  MEDWAY PARK CRUSADERS 54

Having lost at Crusaders by 4 pts in November and playing the return game without their influential forwards Matt Kerridge and Victor Adebiyi, Southend Swifts under 14 boys knew they would be in for a very tough encounter at Eastwood Academy on Saturday.

The visitors scored first but Swifts replied quickly with scores from Lewis Jeffery and Dan Adebayo.  Further baskets from Lukas Volk, Jacob Thorne and Adebayo took Swifts into a 10-5 lead after 5 minutes.  However, Swifts failed to register a score for the remainder of the period and found themselves 10-11 down at the end of the opening 10 minutes.

In the 2nd period Swifts leading scorer so far this season, Alex Skingle, found his shooting form at last and began to exert his influence on the game, ably assisted by guards Joel Bailey, Matty Nicholls and Volk.  Swifts established a promising 25-19 lead after 6 minutes but had to take Thorne out of the game with foul trouble.  His rebounding and shot blocking was sorely missed and the visitors began to find the basket again as they got back to within three points at 26-29 by the end of the first half.

Swifts started the 3rd period poorly at both ends of the court and allowed Crusaders too many easy opportunities to score and were scoreless themselves for 6 minutes.  An 11-2 run from the visitors saw them establish a 38-31 lead after 8 minutes and Swifts looked as if they were in trouble.  A time out and the resultant press from Swifts stopped the rot and a couple of great steals and scores from Volk followed by baskets from Adebayo and Skingle gave Swifts an 11-0 run of their own to restore the balance and level the scores at 40-40 by the end of the 3rd period.

The visitors had brought a noisy crowd, which created an exciting atmosphere in a very tense last stanza.  Swifts started the better with a 7-0 run in the first 3 minutes lead by the excellent Volk and well supported by Jeffery.  Unsurprisingly Crusaders fought back with an 8-2 run of their own to just edge ahead 50-49 after 8 minutes.  Scores from Volk and Jeffery levelled the scores at 52-52 with 90 seconds left but a breakaway score from Crusaders took them into a 2-point lead with just a minute left.  Swifts were unable to score on the next offence, which meant that Crusaders had possession with less than a minute to go but a superb steal from Volk resulted in a score and a bonus shot which he coolly scored to establish a 55-54 lead with 40 seconds of the game left.  With excellent defence, Swifts managed to prevent the visitors scoring and then tried to keep possession but Crusaders had to foul to put Swifts on the line, which they did, and Swifts missed both free throws.  Thorne managed to gain the rebound and Swifts tried to keep possession but Crusaders put them on the line again with 10 seconds to go and Swifts missed both free throws yet again!

This time Crusaders gained possession from the missed free throw but a Swifts press managed to foil their final attempt to score and win the game.

A fabulous game, which neither team deserved to lose and which was much appreciated by the enthusiastic spectators from both teams.  This was a very important win for Swifts as it took them into 3rd place in the South Two Conference and hopefully a potential Play Off spot at the end of the season.  Top Scorers: Volk 19, Skingle 13, Adebayo 8, Jeffery 7.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62  LEWISHAM THUNDER 79

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed Lewisham Thunder to Eastwood on Saturday as they looked to build on their impressive victory over the national champions the previous week.

Southend started well jumping out to a 14-6 lead behind well-worked plays to break Thunder's pressing defence; Dan Davies, Jamie Matthews and Paul Jeboda all getting onto the scoreboard in the game's opening six minutes.  The visitors responded with a 9-6 run to get themselves back into the game to trail just 20-15 at the end of the first quarter.

Thunder began the second quarter with a 7-0 lead to give them a 22-20 lead.  Swifts recovered to score the next basket through Jeboda, but then found themselves trailing 26-22.  Despite their efforts to quell the forthcoming waves of Lewisham's attacks, Swifts were unable to get a hold on the game, trailing 41-34 at the half.

Scores from Josh Powell, Matthews and Jeboda narrowed the deficit marginally to 46-41, before their visitors pulled away to a 56-45 lead; converting turnovers to easy scores.  With a potential rout on the cards, Swifts regrouped to see out the quarter behind 61-52.

The opening of the fourth quarter however did bring the rout that Lewisham threatened.  They punished sloppy play from Swifts and extended their lead to 75-52.  Four points from Matthews was followed by a free-throw for Archie Hoyi, a three-pointer from Scott Williams and a lay-up from Gould, but the damage was done.  Swifts falling to a 79-62 defeat.

Jeboda led the way with 21 points, followed by Matthews with 11 and Gould and Davies with 7 each.

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

FRENFORD FALCONS 70    SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79

A very depleted Southend Swifts under 18 mens team made the relatively short journey to take on Frenford Falcons for their latest national league fixture.  Southend had recorded a 40-point win earlier in the season but were fully aware this match would be an entirely different proposition.

The early exchanges were very tight with Liam Jones and Theo Filipiev scoring well for Swifts.  A three-pointer from Filipiev put a little daylight between the teams and at the end of the first quarter, Southend led 17-15.

Neither team could go clear.  Filipiev had the first four points before Louie Davies had the next five.  Daniel Fatomide chipped in with an and-one, but Frenford kept in the game.  A three-pointer from Jones and a late score from the same player made it 37-33 at half time.

It was the home side that came out stronger in the third period.  Matt Buckley and Davies wrestled the initiative back and the teams traded baskets with Falcons narrowly reducing the deficit to trail just 53-51 going into the final stanza; Fatomide with the last four points.

However, it was Southend that would keep their composure.  Five points from Filipiev took his team ahead and three-pointers from both Jones and Davies cemented the advantage.  Excellent shot selection enabled Swifts to take the quarter by seven leading to an excellent 79-70 victory.  Jones with 22 points, Filipiev 18 and Davies 16 leading the scoring.


8th & 9th FEBRUARY 2014

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

NORTHANTS LIGHTNING 36  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80

Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the trip to the East Midlands to take on Northants Lightning looking to maintain their 100% playing record this season.

A pair of Georgia Powell foul shots and a Katie Bennett lay-up got Southend started but Northants hit back to tie the game up.  Powell was finding space around the basket as her team went 12-6 ahead before the hosts had their best spell, with a 6-2 run that reduced the deficit to just two at 14-12.   But Charlotte Ellmore stamped her authority on the game, with four points out of an 8-0 spell that took Swifts 22-12 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

The second period saw a remarkable performance from Ellmore and Powell.  The two youngsters, who rarely get the opportunity to play significant minutes together due to Swifts winning margins, simply took the game over.  After Powell’s opening score, Ellmore had the next eight as the lead approached 20.  Powell went to the bench after seven minutes but Ellmore had the final eight that gave Southend a 41-24 half time lead with all of the Swifts’ players having been on court.

Ellmore sat out the third quarter but this allowed Charlotte Redhead to take over the ball handling duties.  Still 11 years old, she made some lovely mid range shots as well as finding her team mates for scores.  With Chelsea Locke closing down Northants’ excellent Holly Winterburn and Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson dominating the rebounds, the margin began to grow and at three-quarter time it was 57-31.

A more passive defence actually created greater opportunities for Southend.  Captain Amelia Wilson directed operations and with Crook and Simpson maintaining the scoring, the gap went over 30.  Bennett chipped in with six straight and when Tegan Jackson had the final basket it was 80-36 in another fine all-round performance.  Ellmore with 28, Powell 16 and Bennett 12 leading the scoring.


UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 50  NASSA 93

Southend Swifts under 18 men had the unenviable task of meeting unbeaten Newham Academy (NASSA) in their latest league outing.

Their concerns were proven correct as they conceded the first 10 points in just three minutes.  Louie Davies broke the drought but an 11-2 run took the visitors 21-4 ahead.  Baskets from Davies and Daniel Fatomide reduced the arrears but NASSA’s athleticism was causing forcing Southend to shoot from distance without great success and at the end of the first quarter they trailed 27-10.

The two under 16 players, Dan Davies and Scott Williams stepped up, sharing the first eight points as Swifts began to make a fight of the contest.  Tomi Oye-Bamgbose made a three-pointer to reduce the deficit to 16, but Nassa ended the first half with an 8-2 spell to lead 45-23.

A 13-4 run put the result beyond doubt as Southend simply could not get close to their opponents’ basket.  It was actually only Nassa’s inability to score themselves that left the match at 63-31 going into the final 10 minutes.

This was much more entertaining as both teams managed to find some offensive prowess.  Theo Filipiev continued his improvement with six points in the quarter and with Liam Jones contributing two three-point shots, Swifts were by no means disgraced going down to a very strong side by 93 points to 50.  Davies with 11 and Filipiev 10 leading the scoring.


1st & 2nd FEBRUARY 2014

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

HACKNEY WHITE HEAT 45   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 61

The four elder Southend Swifts teams all faced opposition from London in the latest round of national league fixtures.  The under 18 men, missing captain Brad Wood, were the first in action, visiting Hackney White Heat.

Southend made a good start, scoring the first six points, as Tomi Oye-Bamgbose, Liam Jones and Matt Buckley all found the target.  Hackney began to recover, taking their first lead at 14-12 on the back of a 7-0 run before Swifts tied the game at 14 at the end of the first quarter.

The home side came out with greater determination, making an 8-3 run with only Teo Filipiev on target for Southend.  However, Filipiev and Louie Davies began to exert their authority and they combined for 13 points in the second period as their team led 29-26 t half time.

However, the start of the third quarter would see the decisive spell.  A 9-2 run, with five from Davies, made the lead double digit and although White Heat hit back to reduce the margin to six, five points from Oye-Bamgbose made it 47-36 going into the final 10 minutes.

Points were certainly at a premium, with only six scored in the first three minutes.  Davies and Jones broke the drought and when Jones made a three-pointer at the end, it was a win by the surprising margin of 61 points to 45.  Jones with 15 points and Davies and Oye-Bamgbose 13 each leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 49  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79

An away game with a depleted line-up generally presents a problem and when the captain turns up without her boots, the omens do not look promising.  This was the position Southend Swifts under 16 girls found themselves in when they travelled to meet Newham Youngbloods.

But after a scrappy start, Southend started to get moving.  Megan Jones (in borrowed footwear) and Emma Pallett began to score freely.  At 19-9, player changes began to be made, with little change of rhythm.  Jones certainly found the three-ball to her liking and at the end of the first quarter, the lead was 30-15.

With 10 players on the bench, Swifts effectively split into two fives to ensure all of the players got equal playing time.  Carlie Abbott and Bethany Wheeler took full advantage to share 13 points in the period.  Kacey Realf continued her rapid progress and with Amber Evans finding her range, it was 58-23 at half time.

A much more passive defence slightly curtailed the scoring rate, before a three-pointer from Charlotte Bennett triggered a 10-3 run that took Swifts 77-34 ahead with one period remaining; Pallett again finding the basket with regularity.

The very hard-working Youngbloods team had their best spell, scoring 10 straight but Southend regained their composure to have the last nine, with Abbott making an outrageous score from the half way line to get her team to a 97-49 victory.  Pallett with a season-high 26 points, Jones 20 and Abbott 18 leading the scoring.

  

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79  PECKHAM PRIDE 69

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed reigning National Champions Peckham Pride to their home court knowing full well that they would have to be at their best to at least contest the fixture.

Josh Powell gave Swifts the best possible start by scoring the game's opening five points, before Pride hit back with a three-pointer in response.  Tom Butt, Paul Jeboda and Dan Davies all got themselves on the scoresheet in an 8-4 run as the home side took their lead out to 13-7.  Peckham hit back to narrow the deficit at 18-16, but further scores from Jeboda, Davies and Jamie Matthews, all following good ball movement, gave their side a 25-19 advantage at the end of the first quarter.  

Swifts' free-flowing passing out of Pride’s very athletic pressing defence allowed them to get scores from all over the court as Matthews, Jeboda, Powell and Archie Hoyi extended the lead to 38-27 after seven minutes.  Jeboda scored his team's last four points of the half, all from nice moves around the basket, as they held an improbable 42-33 lead at the half.

The home team looked to extend their advantage with a 9-6 run to begin the second half as Declan Gould, Jeboda and Butt found their way to the basket for scores.  The margin was reduced to eight at 56-48, but Swifts regrouped and led 62-49 with the final 10 minutes to play.

Matthews had five of his side's first six points of the quarter as the scoreboard read 68-55 in favour of Swifts after five minutes.  Fast break transition play from the visitors allowed them to narrow the deficit to eight at 72-64, but scores from Matthews, Powell and Butt earned their side a fantastic victory by a margin of 79-69.

Jeboda led the way with 24 points, followed by Matthews with 17 and Powell with 14

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 55  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77

Missing no fewer than five regular under 18 players, Southend Swifts knew they would be in for a tough battle when they visited Newham Youngbloods, a team that had defeated them by 24 points earlier in the season and stood one place above them in the league table.  Southend were largely made up of under 16 players who had been part of the earlier victory at their own age level.

Swifts made an excellent start, with both Charlotte Bennett and Megan Jones showing dominance.  Bennett, in particular, rebounded tenaciously at both ends of the court and with Jones finding her range from distance, their team had an outstanding first quarter, to lead 23-9.

The same two players combined for the next 12 points as the margin stretched to 35-18 and with Emma Pallett, Lucy Brown, Deanna Blake and Zoe Willis maintaining the defensive pressure, Swifts were able to get regular fast break scores that extended the margin to 45-21 at half time.

The match up of Jones and Newham’s excellent Maria Delgado was an excellent contest and the home side’s change of defensive certainly caused Southend problems.  A strong burst reduced the margin back to 12 but Swifts maintained their composure despite leading just 58-46 going into the final stanza.

But Swifts were determined there would be no slip up.  Jones, Bennett and Blake all found the basket from close range and the final margin of 77-55 was a testimony to a good performance against an equally good team.  Jones with 36 and Bennett 22 underlining their pedigree.


25th & 26th JANUARY 2014

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS III 40  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 64

Southend Swifts under 16 boys travelled to London Greenhouse Pioneers III looking to complete the season double.

The home side started brightly with back-to-back three pointers, before a Declan Gould free throw and a lay-up from Josh Powell got Swifts on the board.  Powell had his team's next four points, but Swifts trailed 12-7 after seven minutes.  Two baskets from Jamie Matthews narrowed the gap to 14-11 at the end of the quarter.

An and-one from Paul Jeboda began the second quarter and Swifts demonstrated much better play on the offensive end as they went on a 11-3 run behind six points from Gould, a three-pointer for Dan Sach and another basket for Matthews; guiding them to a 25-17 lead.  Two fast break lay-ups from Archie Hoyi extended the lead, before Sach threw in a half-court buzzer beater to give his side a 32-17 half-time lead; Swifts winning the quarter 21-3.

The first four minutes of the second half saw a combined four points for both sides as the contest struggled to get going again.  Jeboda, Matthews and Dan Davies helped Swifts to a 6-2 run taking the score to 40-21. Successive 8-2 runs for Swifts behind scores for Matthews, Powell, Tom Butt and Harry Harwood gave them a comfortable 56-25 lead at the end of the third quarter.

With centre Jeboda sitting out for the final period, Swifts struggled to collect defensive rebounds and Pioneers scored seven straight.  Davies and Powell scored to get their team going, but the intensity had gone from the game.  Swifts taking a 64-40 victory in the end.

Matthews led the way with 16 points, followed by Powell with 10 and Gould on 9

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62  HARINGEY ANGELS 69

Southend Swifts under 18 girls fielded a depleted line-up when they took on perennial national champions Haringey Angels.  Missing captain Fay Solkhon as well as Abbie Jones and Amy Rodgers, meant this was certain to be very difficult encounter.

However, from trailing 10-4 after five minutes, two three-point shots from Megan Jones tied the game up and with Louise Corfield dominating close to the basket, Southend began to pull away.  Two baskets from Zoe Willis took the lead to five and with Corfield perfect from the foul line, Swifts led 24-18 at the end of the first quarter.

The home side maintained their momentum, keeping Haringey away from the basket, and indeed had they converted their opportunities, the margin may have been greater than the 32-23 it stood at midway through the second period.  Corfield was forced to the bench with three fouls, which certainly cut down the scoring options.  A pair of Charlotte Bennett and three points from Willis made it 37-27 at half time.

However, as always, Angels came out with huge determination.  Their pressing defence, plus their outstanding athleticism, brought them back level within three minutes.  With Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott literally shooting the lights out, the Londoners led by eight and seemingly on their way to a blow out.  But a 6-2 run, with four from Claire Gold seemed to stem the tide, despite the deficit standing at 56-45 going into the final period.

A score from Amber Evans and another Jones three-pointer started to reduce the gap.  Willis began to get to the basket and with Jones again scoring from distance, it was 66-58 with two minutes to play.  But Swifts simply could not get any closer as they fell to what ended up as a disappointing defeat by 69 points to 62.

Jones and Willis with 16 and Corfield leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 46  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 74

After an excellent performance against unbeaten Brentwood Fire the previous week, Southend Swifts under 14 boys had the opportunity to rest many of their squad in a game against winless Southend Scorpions. With only 3 players from the team that played against Brentwood, Swifts were hoping that a number of squad players would gain valuable experience through more court time and so it proved.

The height of forwards Jacob Thorne at 6'6" and Matt Kerridge at 6'3" has caused problems for all Swifts' opponents so far this season and this game was no different as the two of them were responsible for the first 8 points to lead 8-4 after 5 minutes. Only Sam Stone of Scorpions was able to penetrate Swifts defence and keep his team in touch by scoring all 10 of his team's points in the first quarter. Matty Nicholls was starting point guard for the first time this season and fed great passes to the big men as well as scoring 6 points himself to help his team to a 20-10 lead at the end of the first period. Nick Skinner, also starting for the first time, was switched to marking Stone and did a great job keeping the skilful player to just 6 points in the second quarter whilst Thorne, Kerridge and Nicholls continued to score almost at will to establish a match winning 45-18 lead at half time.

To their credit Scorpions never gave up and worked hard to presstry to limit Swifts scoring but the visitors height advantage was just too great and it wasn't until the two big men were taken out of the attack that the game evened up a little. Reece Ward playing only his second game for Swifts, proved himself a good prospect showing excellent defence and finding the basket on offence as well. Fred Lyons and Josh Dalton also worked hard on defence and provided some good assists as well as scoring themselves. Jamie Rombaut and Theo March also enjoyed their extended court time showed their undoubted potential. Finally, Swifts latest debutant, Rory Burke, found himself in the action for the first time this season and acquitted himself very well.

The end of the third period saw the beginnings of a fight back from Scorpions but Swifts good defence still kept them to just 6 points whilst scoring 17 themselves to extend their lead 62-24. The final quarter saw Swifts give extended court time to their bench players and unsurprisingly Scorpions had their best period of play to win that quarter 22-12 but the game was beyond their reach and Swifts recorded a very pleasing 74-46 win.

Top scorers: Thorne 25, Kerridge 20, Nicholls 14

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

IPSWICH ACADEMY BOBCATS 35  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70

For their latest game in their quest to win their conference, Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the journey to take on second-in-the-table Ipswich Academy Bobcats.  The Suffolk team have suffered just one defeat so far this season and on their home court were sure to be difficult opponents.

And so it seemed as they scored the first three baskets as Southend went scoreless for the first three minutes.  However, a time-out had the desired effect as Swifts reeled off the next 12 points, including a stunning and-one play from captain Amelia Wilson, on their way to a 12-8 first quarter lead.

The second period was a bit closer to normal as Swifts began to exert pressure.  Charlotte Ellmore directed operations and with Grace Crook, Georgia Powell and Rhian Simpson dominating around the basket, the margin began to increase, standing at 27-15 at half time.

However, the third period was quite stunning.  From 31-18, Southend made a 20-2 run, showing skills far beyond their young years.  The big three of Crook, Powell and Simpson were now converting their chances and with Ellmore seemingly covering every inch of the court, the lead went to 57-23 with one quarter remaining.

Unsurprisingly, the intensity dropped in the final 10 minutes.  All of the players got into the game to show their skills as Southend ended with an excellent win against very worthy opponents by 70 points to 35.  Powell with 20 points, Ellmore 17 and Crook 11 leading the scoring.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

IPSWICH ACADEMY BOBCATS 47  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79

Like their under 14 club mates, Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled to Suffolk to take on the Ipswich Academy Bobcats.  Southend need to stay unbeaten to ensure top place in the very competitive Midland East Conference and with Ipswich boasting three players in the England squad, knew only too well the difficulties of their task.

The early exchanges saw Zoe Willis and Charlotte Bennett get Swifts ahead.  Bobcats struggled to get close to the basket and when Amber Evans made a three-pointer, it was 16-6 after seven minutes.  Ipswich hit back with an 8-2 run but three further points from Bennett took her team 21-14 ahead at the end of the opening quarter.

When the same player made a three-point play and Daisy Herd converted a reverse lay-up it was 29-18.  But Ipswich came out with a very aggressive defence and with the Swifts players finding themselves either on the floor or at the foul line, the gap narrowed to just 32-27 at half time and a battle sure to ensue.

However, whatever was said at half time had a stunning effect.  Over the first six minutes, Southend made 15 unanswered points as they stamped their authority on proceedings.  The loss of Bennett with four fouls had much less effect than would have been expected as Kacey Realf came in to dominate the rebounds.  Captain Megan Jones, normally the focus of the scoring, became the provider as she set her team mates on their way, with some outstanding passes.  Evans was in irrepressible form, making steals from every angle, and a 23-4 quarter score was as good as it has been this season.

There was no let up as Claire Gold found her scoring touch.  Jones connected from long range and Evans and Willis kept the scoreboard moving.  With all players coming in, there was little let up and the lead grew to 79-41.  Bobcats had a consolation final six points but this was literally a game of two halves as Swifts gave an indication of their playing depth.

Jones 20, Evans 17, Willis 15 and Bennett 12 leading the scoring.


18th & 19th JANUARY 2014

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 53  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60

For their first game of the New Year, Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled north to take on Hertfordshire Warriors.  The hosts had three wins from seven games, whist Southend sat at the top of the table with just one defeat from nine matches played.

Hertfordshire made by far the better start, taking a 9-2 lead, as their zone defence prevented Southend getting close to the basket.  However, Swifts upped the tempo and a three-point shot from Megan Jones and a tough lay-up from Amber Evans helped them to narrow the gap.  This meant that at the end of the first quarter, Warriors lead was just 12-11.

Four points from Jones and two more from Evans gave Swifts their first lead but the lead changes were numerous.  Daisy Herd was turning defence into very quick offence and when Swifts opened a six point lead, it looked like they would go on to a comfortable win.  But Hertfordshire had the next four and despite another long range effort from Jones, The Essex side’s lead at half time was just 28-25.

Both teams made a slow start to the third period before what should have been the decisive spell.  An 11-4 run gave Swifts a 10 point lead, which they maintained at 43-33 at the end of the quarter, Charlotte Bennett and Zoe Willis capitalising on their team’s defensive pressure.

However, Warriors lived up to their name.  With only Bennett scoring for Southend, they reduced the margin to six with six minutes to play.  Over the next two minutes, they had seven straight and suddenly they found themselves up by one and the spectators on the edges of their seats.  However, Swifts experience kicked in.  Emma Pallett controlled the play and despite some dubious defensive attention, Willis got to the basket for eight points.  A 12 -2 run rescued the danger and led to a 60-53 win that was really too close for comfort and shows that Southend will have to be sharper to ensure they take the league title.

Jones with 17 points, Willis 14 and Bennett 11 leading the scoring.


UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 48  ISLINGTON PANTHERS 53

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed Islington Panthers to Eastwood on Saturday looking to take the season head-to-head following a narrow victory earlier in the year.

Declan Gould and Paul Jeboda scored the opening points of the game and when the pair combined for a further six points and Josh Powell contributed four of his own, the margin of lead was 14-7 in Swifts' favour.  However, sloppy play allowed the visitors to tie the scores at the end of the quarter.

Gould again scored first, but Panthers reeled off a 7-0 run to lead 23-16.  A Jeboda and-one, a score from Jamie Matthews and one from Dan Davies was all Swifts could muster in the remainder of the period as they trailed 28-23 at half-time.

Six points from Gould brought the margin back to one at 30-29 three minutes into the second half, but this was the closest his side would get in the period as the visitors extended their lead to 42-36 with 10 minutes to play.

The margin was reduced to 47-44 following baskets from Jeboda, Archie Hoyi and five points from Dan Sach, but Swifts were unable to close the gap any further and suffered a narrow 53-48 defeat.

Gould led the way with 13 points, followed by Jeboda with 11 and Sach with 7.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 67  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 39

After a disappointing outing the previous week, Southend Swifts under 18 girls looked to get to winning ways when they welcomed Newham Youngbloods to their home court.  Newham had registered a 24 point win at the start of the season and with Southend missing a number of players, this looked sure to be a difficult encounter.

And so it proved as tough defence made points as prevalent as hens’ teeth.  Almost bizarrely, the first quarter yielded just 15 points, with Swifts one ahead.  The first five minutes of the second quarter saw the lead stretch to six but Youngbloods hit back and after four minutes it was just 13-11, and the home captain Fay Solkhon on the bench with what seemed to be a badly sprained ankle.  The final six minutes was much more productive and with Amber Evans producing an exquisite assist for Zoe Willis as part of a 10-2 run that took the home side 23-13 ahead at the half way mark.

Newham reduced the deficit to seven before there was a remarkable transformation.  With Solkhon back at the helm, Swifts produced a devastating eight minutes of basketball.  Two three-pointers from Megan Jones was followed by four from Abbie Jones and suddenly the lead was over 20; Solkhon providing assists on all the scores.  The barrage continued, and with the two Jones’s sharing the last 10 points, it was game done at 51-22 going into the final stanza.

Claire Gold found the basket early on and with Deanna Blake showing her outstanding defensive prowess, Youngbloods still found huge difficulties in finding the basket.  At 65-30, Swifts naturally took their foot off the gas but they had more than enough in hand to win by the surprisingly comfortable margin of 67 points to 39.  Megan Jones with 32 points led the way in a very good team performance.


UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 110  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

Fighting to move up the league table, Southend Swifts under 18 men had another tough task when they travelled to second in the table Newham Youngbloods.  A dispute over licences meant that only six Swifts players were deemed eligible to play.

But Southend showed remarkable resilience early on.  Led by Liam Jones, they were level at 12 all after six minutes and with Brad Wood getting to the basket despite a shoulder injury, the deficit stood at just one at 23-22 at the end of the first quarter.

But Youngbloods stamped their authority in the second period.  10-0 run was followed by 13 straight and suddenly the lead was over 20.  Jones, Wood and Matt Buckley partially stemmed the tide but at half time, Newham’s lead was 58-33.

The hosts numerical advantage had a major effect on proceedings and despite good work from Louie Davies, the margin increased.  The whole team continued to battle but excellent shooting from Newham kept their side of the scoreboard moving and at three quarter time it was 88-49.

The final period was a real scoring fest.  Both Jones and Buckley registered three-pointers but there was no way back as Swifts fell to a not-unexpected defeat.  Wood with 18 and Buckley 15 had performed heroically but the outstanding display was from Jones, with a career high 26 points.


11th & 12th JANUARY 2014

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

BARKING AND DAGENHAM THUNDER 95  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

For their first game in the second half of the season, Southend Swifts under 18 men travelled into London to take on Barking and Dagenham Thunder.  Barking stood in 4th place in this very competitive division with Southend 2 places behind.

A barrage of three-pointers from both teams got the game underway and after five minutes, Thunder led just 11-10.  Louie Davies and Brad Wood were controlling matters for Swifts and with both finding the basket with regularity, the game was tied at 18 before the home side had the final three points to lead 21-18 at the first interval.

Four points from Wood gave his team their first advantage but six straight for Barking took them ahead, Davies, Liam Jones and Wood combined for seven unanswered points before Thunder again found their scoring touch from distance to hold a 41-32 half time lead.

A change of defence brought quick rewards for the hosts and a 12-5 run made it 53-37.  Despite good work from newcomer Louis Pike, Barking put a distinctive mark on the game with a 24-11 3rd period to lead 65-43 going into the final quarter.

The last 10 minutes was a real scoring festival.  Jones, Wood and Davies again led the way and when Wood had successive three-pointers, the deficit was back to 14.  However, that was the closest it would get as Barking ran out victors by 95 points to 72.

Wood with 33 points, Davies 18 and Jones 11 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

EASTSIDE EAGLES 42  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 46

Southend Swifts under 16 boys travelled to Eastside Eagles on Saturday, looking to complete a season sweep following their victory earlier in the season.

Declan Gould had the first basket of the game and a Josh Powell free-throw continued the scoring to give Swifts a 3-0 lead, before Eagles hit back with four points of their own.  A 5-0 run from Swifts behind an and-one for Paul Jeboda and free-throws for Powell and Dan Davies regained Swifts' lead at 8-4.  Eagles scored on their next possession, but the visitors closed out the quarter with another five unanswered points from Powell and Davies to lead 13-6.

The hosts began the second quarter with four points, before Jeboda finished inside to give his side a 15-10 lead.  Tom Butt found his way onto the scoresheet with a three-pointer, before Eagles replied with an offensive putback.  Powell again worked well inside with Jeboda and the pair scored Swifts next eight points.  Powell continued his free scoring exploits with a basket to close the half out with a lead of 28-15 to his side.  Swifts' defensive efforts getting their rewards with the low tally of points conceded.

Eagles scored the first basket of the second half after three minutes, before Jeboda finished strongly around the hoop.  A three-pointer for the hosts was answered by scores for Davies, Jeboda and Gould.  However, Eagles had the last nine points of the half to trail 35-31 with one stanza remaining.

Swifts took control of the opening exchanges of the fourth quarter with scores from Powell, Jeboda and Butt to lead 41-31; before Eagles made three baskets to reduce the deficit to 41-37.  A Davies driving score would be Swifts' only score for four minutes as Eagles found their rhythm to make it a two point game at 43-41.  Gould and Jeboda came to the fore following good defensive work from Swifts to bring the game home with a scoreline of 46-42 in Swifts' favour.

Jeboda led the way with 16 points, followed by Powell with 13 and Davies with 7

UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 71  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77

A rare Sunday fixture saw Southend Swifts under 14 boys travel to the City of London to play the first return game of the season against Greenhouse Pioneers.  In the home game Southend managed a narrow 2 point win in a tense and exciting game, since then the London team had only lost one other game and would surely fancy their chances on their home court.

After a problematic journey, Swifts didn't arrive at the venue until the scheduled start of the match so had to go straight on court without a warm up.  Pioneers took full advantage of this, and with an energetic pressing defence forced a number of turnovers as Swifts found themselves 6-0 down in just a few minutes.  Joel Bailey led a minor recovery with a field goal and a free throw but more errors by the visitors enabled their hosts to pull away again and despite scores from Matt Kerridge and Dan Adebayo, Swifts faced a 6-18 deficit at the end of the 1st period.

Swifts started the 2nd period with a press of their own and were rewarded with interceptions and breakaway scores from Adebayo in particular.  With leading scorer Alex Skingle unavailable for the game, Swifts newcomer Victor Adebiyi, who had made such an impressive debut the week before, was brought on early in this period and had an immediate impact with 5 quick points, Matt Kerridge also began to get into the game with good rebounding at both ends.  As a result, Swifts clawed their way back into contention to get to within 4 points with a much more respectable 24-28 scoreline at half time.

Both teams realised how important the 3rd quarter was going to be in deciding the outcome of this game.  It was Swifts who gained the ascendancy by keeping their opponents scoreless for 6 minutes whilst scoring 20 points themselves with Adebayo and Adebiyi seemingly scoring at will, ably supported by Bailey and Kerridge.  Swifts continued to score freely despite their hosts finding the basket towards the end of the period and as a result scored an excellent 35 points in the quarter to their opponents 12, giving them a healthy 59-40 lead.

With a seemingly winning lead, Swifts started the final quarter rather complacently.  They allowed Pioneers to have a few easy scores, which renewed their confidence and inspired them to produce a tremendous fight back in a tense and exciting final stanza.  On form Adebayo was fouled out early in the period which didn't help Swifts cause and when Pioneers started attacking the basket with more determination and purpose the lead steadily started to dwindle until the visitors led by only 4 points with 3 minutes still left on the clock.  Vital scores from Jacob Thorne and Adebiyi stopped the rot but a huge three pointer and another score from Pioneers brought the vociferous crowd to their feet sensing a potential victory from the jaws of defeat.  With less than a minute left on the clock Swifts kept possession forcing their opponents to foul and send them to the line, the resulting 2 out of 4 free throws for Adebiyi and a cool 4 out of 4 free throws from Lukas Volk ensured Swifts a hard earned but well deserved 77-71 victory.

Top Scorers: Adebiyi 23; Adebayo 19; Kerridge 14; Bailey 11; Volk 8

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 79  NORTHAMPTONSHIRE ELITE TITANS 34

For what was Southend Swifts under 14 girls last home league game of the season, they met Northamptonshire Elite Titans, a team new to this division but who have already made an impact with five wins from eight games played.  Southend knew they would have to be at their best to retain their unbeaten record.

Rhian Simpson and Amelia Wilson opened the scoring but the team’s normal fluency wasn’t there.  Georgia Powell and Charlotte Ellmore found the basket and although it was 11-0 after five minutes.  Titans managed two foul shots but surprisingly Swifts were picking up fouls making the game very disjointed.  The introduction of Katie Bennett brought four quick points and at the end of the first quarter, the lead was 23-3.

Scores from Charlotte Redhead and Simpson got the 2nd period underway and when Ellmore had four straight, the margin was 31-5 and the pressing defence was taken off.  With Powell and Grace Crook sitting out with foul trouble, Ellmore had 6 from 6 from the foul line but her team mates were missing opportunities they would normally take with relish, with the lead just 44-14 at half time.

The third quarter, by the team’s very high standards, was disappointing, although Titans were certainly very determined opponents.  Chances continued to be spurned as Southend managed just 13 points to lead 57-22 going into the final period.

The first six minutes was a little closer to normal as Swifts had all 10 points scored but eight missed foul shots gave an indication of where the team was on the day.  A final score of 79-34 keeps Swifts at the top of the table but they will need to regain their sharpness if they are to achieve a perfect league record this season.

Ellmore with 23 points, Powell 19 and Bennett 13 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 38  SEVENOAKS SUNS 77

A game against perennial play-off finalists Sevenoaks Suns is always a difficult encounter for any team and for Southend Swifts under 18 girls this was certainly the case.

Southend made a good start but it soon became evident that Sevenoaks’ very aggressive defence would be deemed legal by the match officials.  Repeatedly Swifts would have scoring opportunities thwarted seemingly with illegal contact only to find that no violations were called.

A 26-12 first quarter deficit became 44-23 at half time but just 15 very hard-earned points in the second half saw Southend fall to a disappointing and bruising loss.  Zoe Willis with 12 points, Abbie Jones 9 and Megan Jones 8 leading the meagre scoring.


4th & 5th JANUARY 2014

UNDER 14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 52

Having narrowly lost each of their last three National League games, Southend Swifts under 14 boys were anxious to get back to winning ways in a game against a team they had beaten earlier in the season.

Swifts had the perfect start with consecutive opening scores from Matt Kerridge followed by contributions from Joel Bailey and Alex Skingle to establish a 9-0 lead after just 2 minutes.  However, the visitors quickly regained their composure and responded with an even better run of 13-4 to level the scores at 13 apiece after 8 minutes.  Another flurry of points just before the end of the period took Newham into a 20-15 lead and it seemed like this would be a close contest after all.

Swifts changed tactics by putting on a full court press and the resulting turnovers saw the hosts score 8 points in 2 minutes with Bailey, Kerridge and Skingle dominant.  Further contributions from Dan Adebayo and Lukas Volk enabled Swifts to re-establish a lead and with Kerridge and Skingle commanding the boards at both ends, the hosts managed to restrict their opponents to just 11 points whilst scoring 28 themselves to give them a comfortable 43-31 lead at half time.

This lead enabled Swifts to look to run their bench and in particular give a debut to Victor Adebiyi and at 6'1" he could only strengthen the hosts rebounding at both ends and so it proved when he put back two baskets in the first 2 minutes.  Matty Nicholls took over guard duties from Joel Bailey and made two consecutive scores and several assists to ensure that Swifts did not lose the momentum that should win them the game.  A 16-0 run from the 3rd to 8th minute was particularly pleasing as only one starter was on court.  Adebiyi, Nicholls, Nick Skinner and Archie Clark moved the ball well and scored regularly to make the most of their extended court time compared to previous games.  Having established a 71-38 lead at the end of the 3rd period the intensity inevitably dropped a little in the final quarter but it still gave more valuable court time to many of the Swifts bench players as Southend ended worthy winners by 86 points to 52.  .  Top Scorers: Skingle 24, Adebiyi 16, Kerridge 13, Bailey 10, Nicholls 8, Adebayo 6.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

COUNTY UPPER SUFFOLK COYOTES 30  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 88

For their first game of the new year, Southend Swifts under 14 made the journey to Suffolk to take on a team they recorded a 65 point win against earlier in the season.  Since then County Upper have shown a distinct improvement so Southend would have to be on their guard to avoid their first defeat of the season.

However, from the start Swifts established control.  Charlotte Ellmore controlled proceedings, either scoring herself or finding her colleagues with some delightful passing.  Grace Crook, Georgia Powell and Rhian Simpson found the basket at will and at the end of the first quarter, the lead stood at 26-8.

Changes of personnel had little effect, other than to further restrict the home team’s scoring.  Katie Bennett and Shannon Brook quickly found their scoring touch and with Simpson dominating close to the basket, the lead increased to 52-12 at half time, with the defence already much less intense.

Chelsea Locke had an early score on a fast break and when Cheyenne Deridisi made a foul shot, all 10 Swifts’ players had scored.  Powell made some delightful moves to increase the margin and a Bennett three-pointer was the highlight of the final quarter as Southend ended comfortable winners by 88 points to 30, with five players in double figures, led by Simpson with 18 and Crook 16.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

COUNTY UPPER SUFFOLK COYOTES 23  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 72

When these two teams met earlier in the season, Southend Swifts under 16 girls recorded a 103 point win.  Not wishing for a similar situation, the team agreed on certain principles prior to the game.  No pressing defence, not too many fast breaks and captain Megan Jones would stay at home.

The early exchanges remained one-sided as Zoe Willis and Daisy Herd got through the home team’s defence.  Charlotte Bennett soon sat out and at the end of the first quarter, it was 20-4.  The second quarter saw extended court time for the players who tend to play less in tougher encounters.  Carlie Abbott, Grace Livermore, Bethany Wheeler and Sasha Cornell took obvious advantage, putting in a 23-4 spell to hold a 43-8 half time lead.

Claire Gold had some early points in the 3rd period but there was little motivation to run up a huge score.  Kacey Realf again showed her improvement but this was simply a case of damage limitation on behalf of the hosts.  A 72-23 win kept Swifts on top of the table but was hardly preparation for more difficult fixtures coming up.

 

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 61  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS EXTREME 82

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed Newham Youngbloods Extreme to Eastwood for their first game of the New Year.

Swifts took an early lead at 5-2 through points for Paul Jeboda and Scott Williams, the latter was then forced to the bench for the remainder of the game through injury.  Jeboda scored again inside, before Declan Gould got on the scoresheet with a pair of baskets to give his side an 11-6 advantage.  Youngbloods then went on a 13-7 run to end the quarter and lead 19-18.

The visitors scored the first four points of the second period, before Jeboda and Josh Powell found the basket for Swifts.  Baskets were then traded between the sides with Jeboda, Dan Davies and Jamie Matthews scoring for the home side who trailed 32-27; Davies having used the majority of his energy in breaking the opponents' pressure defence.  The final two points of the half saw 21 points scored and it was Youngbloods who led 43-37.

Jeboda continued his impressive work on the offensive boards with the first four points of the second half, but his side would then be held scoreless for seven minutes whilst their opponents scored 14.  Jeboda, Powell and Gould finally found their way to the basket to give Swifts a 6-0 run.  This however was followed by four points for the visitors who now led 60-46 at the end of the third quarter.

Youngbloods opened the final stanza with a 12-0 run extending the scoreline to 72-46.  Dan Sach connected with a three-pointer to get his team moving, but Swifts were unable to compose themselves on offence enough to make a run back into the game.  Matthews, Gould and Tom Butt made baskets to keep the margin of defeat respectable at 82-61.

Jeboda led the way with 22 points, followed by Gould on 14 and Matthews on 7.


14th & 15th DECEMBER 2013

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2 DIVISION

NASSA 76   SOUTHEND SWIFTS   72

After two consecutive narrow defeats, Southend Swifts under 14 boys team were anxious to get back to winning ways but a road trip to last year's National Champions was a very tough ask! Swifts welcomed back Alex Skingle from injury but without 6'6" Jacob Thorne who had picked up an injured ankle in a school game during the week.

Swifts opened the scoring with a lay up from Joel Bailey and a put back by Skingle, further scores from Matt Kerridge and Dan Adebayo established a promising early 8-4 lead which was pulled back by the hosts to 8 apiece after 5 minutes. Then an 8-1 run, with further scores from Adebayo, Kerridge and Skingle took Swifts to 16-9 after 8 minutes. The teams traded baskets until the end of the first period where Swifts had established a 22-15 lead.

The 2nd period opened with a Bailey 3 pointer but a 7-1 run by NASSA brought them to within four and a possible comeback. With Lukas Volk finding his shooting touch and Skingle and Adebayo dominating the boards at both ends Swifts started to pull away from their illustrious opponents but defensive pressure from NASSA brought them level at 37-37 after 7 minutes. The last 3 minutes of the 1st half saw Swifts pull away again with an excellent 10-0 run including a last second steal and score from Zack Littlejohn.

Despite their 10 point lead, Swifts knew that a victory would still be a very tough proposition against their skilful opponents. Although NASSA had the opening score of the period, Kerridge scored two quick baskets to extend the lead to 12. Then, in the 2nd minute a bizarre incident occurred that would change the complexion and mood of the game. Point guard and playmaker Joel Bailey was adjudged to have carried the ball and was then given a technical foul for dissent, when he went back to enquire what he had done wrong he immediately received another technical foul which meant he could take no further part of the game. There was no doubt that this incident disrupted the Swifts players concentration as NASSA scored the next 12 points to draw level at 51-51. Swifts regained their composure with scores from Kerridge , Volk & Adebayo in the last 2 minutes to give them a 59-55 lead going in to the final quarter.

NASSA played a very aggressive full court pressure defence which seemed to unsettle the Swifts and caused them to turn the ball over on a number of occasions allowing their opponents some easy scores. The visitor's hung on  though and managed to keep in touch through scores from Kerridge, Adebayo, Volk & Skingle and even edge ahead 68-67 after 7 minutes. However, an 8-0 run in 2 minutes from the hosts seemingly took the game away from Swifts grasp but quick scores from Adebayo and Kerridge took them within 3 points with less than a minute left but a basket from NASSA and 3 missed free throws from Swifts ensured a win for the hosts in a terrific game which promises an excellent encounter in the return at Eastwood.

Top scorers for Swifts: Skingle 19; Adebayo 17; Kerridge  16; Volk 10; Bailey 8


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

LEWISHAM THUNDER 31  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 55

Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled to the excellent facility in Beckenham to take on Lewisham Thunder in their efforts to remain in the top three in the very competitive South Conference.  Southend were missing a number of players and gave Carlie Abbott her debut at this level.

A three-pointer from Megan Jones got the scoring under way before captain Louise Corfield had five points in a 9-2 run that took Swifts 12-5 ahead, leading to a 15-5 first quarter lead.  Scoring was certainly at a premium for both teams but with Claire Gold hitting four points and Jones two more long-range efforts, the margin increased to 27-13 at half time.

The third period was a bit more like the usual fare.  Jones found some consistency and with Abbott chipping in with five points, it was 48-25 going into the final 10 minutes.  This proved to be extremely low-key, with just 13 points scored between the two teams that saw Southend finish with a 55-31 victory.  Jones with 23 points and Corfield 12 leading the scoring.


U16 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2 DIVISION

SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 34  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 104

Southend Swifts under 16 boys made the short journey across town to face Southend Scorpions in their final game of 2013.

Swifts started brightly getting out to a 7-2 lead after three minutes behind five points for Declan Gould and two for Dan Davies.  A 4-0 run for Scorpions led to a 6-0 response for the visitors as Gould scored a pair of free-throws and Scott Williams and Josh Powell made scores around the basket. From this lead of 13-4 Swifts would become sloppy on offense and too casual on defence as Scorpions finished the quarter with a 12-6 run.

A change in defensive organisation had the required effect as Swifts held their opponents scoreless for five minutes, whilst scoring 13 points of their own through Gould, Williams, Paul Jeboda and Powell.  Archie Hoyi and Connor Walton added to the offensive output as Jeboda and Gould continued to add to their personal hauls as the half ended at 46-25.  Gould with 20 points in 20 minutes.

Another good showing on the defensive end led to fast-break opportunities for Swifts as they opened the second half with a 21-0 run.  The balanced scoring coming from all angles as Gould, Davies, Jeboda and Powell all contributed.  Further scores from Jeboda, Williams and Harry Harwood gave their side a comprehensive 81-27 lead with one quarter remaining.

WIlliams, Jeboda, Harwood. Walton and Tom Butt gave their side an 11-0 run to open the final quarter, extending the lead to 92-27.  A Walton three-pointer was the highlight of the remaining three minutes as Swifts recorded a 104-34 victory.

Gould led the way 31 points, followed by Jeboda with 23 and Powell and Walton each had 9.


UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 66  HARINGEY ANGELS 59

Matches against Haringey Angels are always a highlight of the season for Southend Swifts.  There is huge respect between players, coaches and spectators, with games played in an exemplary manner.  This second match up of the season, at under 16 level, was expected to be of the highest level as Southend looked to rebound from a six point loss in London in mid November.

After conceding the first basket, Swifts made a 10-0 run with Daisy Herd contributing six.  Angels made a free throw but a lay-up from Emma Pallett made it 14-3 after eight minutes; a fantastic defensive effort from the hosts.  However, Haringey responded and a 7-3 run took them into the first interval trailing just 17-10.

The second quarter would see an outstanding performance from Southend.  A three-pointer from Megan Jones, closely marked once again, was followed by seven points from Zoe Willis, as Angels were held scoreless for four minutes.  They managed the next three points but eight straight for Swifts, with four from Claire Gold, made it 35-13; a most improbable scoreline.  But again the London side hit back and with eight of the last twelve points, they trailed 39-21 at half time.

But Swifts know from bitter experience that no lead is ever enough against Haringey.  And so it proved as Angels had the first six points of the quarter.  A three-point play from Herd stemmed the flow and when the same player made two foul shots, it was 44-29.  A pair of Pallett foul shots made it 46-34 before eight straight for the visitors took it to 46-42 and the crowd in a frenzy.  Jones finally broke free of her shackles to make two from the foul line and a 15 foot shot from Gold made it 50-42 going into the final period.

Two foul shots from Gold and a Willis basket took the lead back into double figures and with Herd scoring again, it was 57-46 after three minutes.  A 6-2 run brought it back to seven points before a three-point play by Willis and a Jones lay-up made it 64-52 with four minutes to play.  But Swifts would not score for three minutes and with Jones fouling out, Angels had seven unanswered points to trail 64-59 going into the last minute.  However, Southend were able to maintain their composure and an 18 foot shot from Pallett clinched the win.  More importantly the margin of seven points gave them the head-to-head over Angels, should the teams finish level on points at the end of the season.

Herd with a season high 17 points and Jones and Willis with 14 points each led the scoring in a match of outstanding skill and fair play, with both coaches wishing it were the same every week.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH DIVISION

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 52  HARINGEY ANGELS 56

After the excitement of the under 16 game that preceded, Southend Swifts under 18 girls also took on Haringey Angels.

Whether everyone from Swifts had been drained by the earlier match, the opening nine minutes was quite bizarre as the home side failed to find the basket even once as they trailed 15-0 on the way to an expected mauling.  Even scoring the last four points seemed futile as a return for 10 minutes play.

When Haringey made an 8-2 run over the first eight minutes of a lacklustre match, it just looked like a case of damage limitation.  But a Megan Jones three-point shot and four points from Lucy Brown gave some semblance of hope as Swifts trailed just 27-15 at half time.

A fast break score from Abbie Jones and four points from Charlotte Bennett reduced the deficit to 10 and midway through the 3rd quarter it was 35-24.  But a time out seemed to have the desired effect and 10 straight points, with seven from Bennett, made it the unlikeliest of one point games at 35-34 with Angels holding a 39-37 lead with one stanza to play.

Four points from Louise Corfield tied the game at 41 and the crowd shaking their heads in amazement.  Eight unanswered points took Haringey clear but aided by an outrageous three-point shot from Megan Jones, it was back to five going into the final minute.  But Swifts could only get one point closer as they lost 56-52 in a game that started as a disaster and almost ended in a crazy win.

17 points from Jones and 16 from Bennett leading the scoring.


UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

NORFOLK ICENI 44  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 82

The final game of the weekend saw Southend Swifts under 14 girls make the long trip to Norfolk to take on the home town Iceni; a team that has made major improvement since the start of the season.

But after trailing 4-2, Southend sprung into normal action.  Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson dominated around the basket and two 8-0 runs took them 27-8 ahead at the end of the first quarter.

Constant changes of personnel got all of the youngsters onto court and a quiet 2nd period saw the lead increase only marginally to 38-18.

Norfolk had their best spell, with a 6-2 run, but six points from Charlotte Ellmore and four from Shannon Brook were part of a 12-4 spell that made it 52-28, leading to a 60-34 leading going into the final quarter.

Six straight from Crook triggered a far more fluent 10 minutes and with Charlotte Redhead finding the target, Swifts maintained their unbeaten record with an 82-44 victory, with Crook on 19 points and Ellmore and Simpson with 14 apiece.


7th & 8th DECEMBER 2013

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 39  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS SOUTH 46

After only 2 games in 7 weeks, Southend Swifts under 14 boys London Greenhouse Pioneers South, a team with a similar record to themselves i.e. just 1 defeat against league leaders Medway Park, so we knew that they would be tough opponents and so it proved.

Swifts would be without the services of leading scorer Alex Skingle through injury but his forward partner Matt Kerridge took over the mantle by scoring Swifts first 9 points of the game to give his team a 9-4 lead after 5 minutes. Two quick scores by Pioneers brought them level and then scores from Lukas Volk and Matty Nicholls helped Swifts establish a narrow 12-11 lead at the end of the first period.  In the second period both teams struggled to score with defences dominating at both ends of the court, for Swifts Kerridge continued to find the basket and keep his team in touch whilst Pioneers established a narrow 20-19 lead at half time.

The third period saw Pioneers concentrate on stopping Kerridge but this allowed Jacob Thorne more freedom to score and with guards Joel Bailey & Lukas Volk also finding their scoring form a resulting 15-4 run took the hosts into a 30-24 lead after 8 minutes and a possible victory in sight. Unfortunately for Swifts the Pioneers had other ideas and the remaining 12 minutes of the match would see them restrict Swifts to just 5 points through a combination of very aggressive pressure defence and their opponent's lack of match sharpness. A series of turnovers and missed layups by Swifts allowed the visitors to make a succession of break away scores which took the game out of Swifts reach and secured Pioneers a somewhat flattering but deserved 39-46 win. The return away game should be a good one!

Leading scorers for Swifts were Kerridge 14, Thorne 8 & Bailey 7.

U16 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 73  LONDON WESTSIDE RANGERS 62

The Under 16 boys looked to maintain their perfect home record as  they hosted London Westside Rangers at Eastwood on Saturday.

Swifts started brightly getting out to an 11-4 lead after three minutes behind scores for Paul Jeboda, Dan Davies, Scott Williams and Josh Powell.  Rangers began to find their range from beyond the three-point line and got the margin back to 17-14, before Swifts altered their defensive positioning to finish the quarter 24-17 in front.

Davies opened the second quarter’s scoring and further baskets from Powell, Jeboda and Dec Gould kept the scoreboard ticking over to lead 31-23.  The visitors then went on a 10-2 run, as only Dan Sach could find the hoop as the scores became level at 33-33.  Jeboda, an and-one basket from Tom Butt and Sach would give Swifts a narrow 39-33 lead at the half.

Scores from Butt and Jamie Matthews extended the lead to 47-38 midway through the third quarter as Swifts shared the ball well on the offensive end.  Powell and Gould then added a pair of baskets each  as Swifts looked to assert some dominance over the game as they took a double-digit lead at 56-46.  The quarter would end 60-50 following further scores for Butt and Jeboda.

Swifts started the final stanza with a 5-0 run behind baskets for Williams and Jeboda, but the visitors hit back with six unanswered points.  Jeboda then exerted himself on the offensive boards to score two putbacks to lead 68-56.  Connor Walton and Harry Harwood took their opportunity on court to find their way onto the scoresheet as their side recorded a 73-62 victory.  

Jeboda led the way with 14 followed by Powell on  13 and Butt and Williams with 9.


U18 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 50  BRIXTON TOPCATS 59

Southend Swifts under 18 boys continued their tough league schedule with a home fixture against perennial powerhouse Brixton Topcats.

The visitors made the better start, taking a 9-2 lead before Southend made 12 straight to lead by five: Brad Wood contributing eight.  Another Wood score helping the hosts to a 16-13 first quarter lead.

Topcats again came out stronger, making a 12-3 run to lead by four.  Wood again scored from distance and with points at a premium the game was tied at 27 at half time.

For the third time, Brixton again took the initiative but this time it would be decisive.  From 38-33 ahead, they scored 10 straight and although Swifts had the final two baskets, they trailed 48-37 going into the final period.

But with Liam Jones starting to exert his presence at both ends, Southend looked like they may achieve the improbable.  A 6-2 run reduced the deficit to seven and four points from Jones and another Wood three-pointer made it 51-50 going into the last two minutes.  But decision making went out of the window as Brixton had the last eight points to record a 59-50 victory.

For Swifts, Wood with 28 points and Jones 13 leading the scoring.


U16 GIRLS NATIONAL LEAGUE – MIDLANDS EAST

BUCKS HORNETS 66 SOUTHEND SWIFTS  87

For their latest league encounter, Southend Swifts under 16 girls took a much depleted squad to Bucks Hornets, missing the services of Charlotte Bennett and Megan Jones.

Unsurprisingly there was a lack of cohesion, as Hornets took an 8-7 lead.  Scores from Claire Gold and Emma Pallett took Southend ahead but the home side hit back and a 6-0 run took them 19-15 ahead.  Five points from Zoe Willis gave Swifts a narrow advantage and at the end of the first quarter, the game was tied at 20.

However the second period would see a more usual Southend performance.  Scores from Amber Evans, Bethany Wheeler and Pallett started to open a gap, although it was still close at 30-28.  But Willis took over proceedings, scoring the next 10 points and with Daisy Hurd and 13 year old Charlotte Ellmore also scoring, the half time score was 48-34.

A 16-2 run over the next seven minutes put the game away as Hurd, Evans and Kacey Realf came to the fore; Gold and Pallett both sitting out with foul trouble.  Good foul shooting from Alicia Medina-Smith concluded the scoring, with Swifts leading 70-44.

The final period was, unsurprisingly, less intense but two three-pointers from Pallett and excellent scoring from Realf making sure there were no mishaps as Swifts recorded a comfortable 87-66 win, with Willis on 26 points, Realf a career high 14 and Hurd and Pallett with 10 apiece.


U16 GIRLS NATIONAL CUP QUARTER FINAL

NORTHANTS LIGHTNING 75   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 60

Southend Swifts under 16 went into this national cup quarter final missing the services of captain Megan Jones, away on a school trip.  This meant the visit to a difficult venue was sure to be even tougher.

It was evident from the start that the match officials were going to be very lenient on physical contact, particularly from the home side, and this would have a material effect on the outcome.  Northants took an 8-2 lead but scores from Charlotte Bennett, Claire Gold and Zoe Willis tied the game up.  Four more from Willis took her team ahead but with a number of opportunities spurned, by fair means or foul, saw Lightning hold a two point first quarter lead.

The home side came out much stronger and an 11-1 spell over five minutes took them 25-13 ahead.  An and one from Gold stopped the rot and after seven minutes the deficit was back to nine.  But Northants again came through stronger and at half time they led 40-26, with a number of Southend players in foul trouble.

When the home side converted another shot from range, they led 46-30 and seemingly on their way to a big win.  But Swifts showed their maturity despite little outside assistance.  A 13-0 run, over four minutes, changed the whole outlook of the game as the score stood at 46-43.  However, Northants found themselves the recipients of a number of fouls shots to make a 6-2 run that saw them lead 52-45 at half time.

Still Southend battled into the final stanza.  Despite some outstanding work from Hurd, het team could get no closer than nine and with Northants converting foul shots at the end, Swifts fell to a disappointing defeat by 75 points to 60.  Willis with 20 points, Gold 17 and Bennett and Hurd 9 apiece leading the scoring.


30 November & 1 December 2013

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS III 61 -  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54

The Under 16 Boys travelled to London Greenhouse Pioneers III off the back of a good home win against Eastside Eagles.

The home side started quickest, extending a 6-0 lead before Dan Davies converted on a three-pointer to narrow the deficit.  Pioneers then went out to a 12-5 lead as Swifts struggled offensively.  Finally Swifts found some fluidity in moving the ball as they closed the quarter with a 6-4 run behind scores for Davies, Jamie Matthews and Dan Sach to trail 16-10.

Matthews opened the second quarter with two free throws before Swifts suffered a 10-0 reverse over six minutes.  Matthews again found himself at the free-throw line where he converted one-from-two, but the home side hit back with four points.  Matthews would complete his side's scoring for the half with another free-throw, but his side would trail 32-15.

Davies got his side off to a good start to the second half with an and-one layup and Paul Jeboda converted three baskets from offensive rebounds to bring his side closer at 35-24.  Matthews scored with a tough finish, before Jeboda scored one from the free-throw line.  A further score from Matthews left his side trailing by single digits 37-29.  Jeboda and Williams again registered points. but the home side hit back with six points.  Davies made two-from-two from the line before Williams scored to leave his side trailing 43-37 at the end of the third.

Declan Gould and Williams opened the scoring in the final quarter and from this their side went on a 6-4 run, through scores for Archie Hoyi, Sach and Davies, to tie the game at 47-47.  Gould then made his way to the basket for an and-one basket, but it was whistled off for a travelling call which halted Swifts' momentum.  Pioneers responded with five points, before Gould found his way to the basket to make the score 52-49.  From this the home side finished the game with a 9-5 run to close out a hard fought victory.

Matthews led the way with 13 points, followed by Jeboda on 11 and Davies with 10.


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

LONDON UNITED 63  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 69

Southend Swifts under 18 girls made the trip around the M25 to take on London United, a team they have already defeated this season.

Southend made a good start as Megan Jones found her range outside the three-point line.  She had two long-range efforts in the first quarter as her team held a 16-12 lead at the end of the opening 10 minutes.  However, the second period would see Swifts produce an outstanding team display.  Louise Corfield showed renewed confidence, and when the team couldn’t get close to the basket, Jones produced three more treys as her team held a 45-19 half time lead.

Another Jones three-pointer, followed by one from captain Fay Solkhon made it 53-25 but from 59-28 Southend seemed to go into a trance.  They conceded nine of the next 13 points but still held a 63-37 lead going into the final quarter.  However, conceding the next 12 points started a panic and brought the vociferous home crowd out of their slumber.  Another 6-1 run made it 64-55 with five minutes to play and the impossible now seeming almost likely.  But an and one from Corfield and two Jones foul shots took the lead back to 14 and although United had the next five, Swifts were able to hold on for a victory that the barely deserved.  Jones with 25 points and Corfield 15 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 101  HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 44

Southend Swifts under 14 girls looked to consolidate their position at the top of the division when they met 2nd place Hertfordshire Warriors on their home court at Eastwood Academy.  Southend were unbeaten after seven matches whilst Hertfordshire had suffered their first defeat of the season the previous day.

By their own high standards, Swifts made a scrappy start, missing a number of shots close to the basket.  After five minutes it was just 9-6 and a tough battle looked likely to ensue.  But suddenly Southend upped the gears.  With Charlotte Ellmore finding her team mates with some superb passes, the young ladies scored 15 unanswered points in three minutes to blow the game open; Georgia Powell with nine in the run and captain Amelia Wilson with two acrobatic lay-ups.  The intensity dropped slightly as the hosts led 26-12 after the opening quarter.

After the teams shared the opening salvos, Southend again exerted pressure that again brought results.  Four points apiece from Chelsea Locke and Charlotte Redhead took them 40-16 ahead and with Katie Bennett and Ellmore sharing the last 12 points, it was 56-26 at half time.

But the youngsters were not finished.  Rhian Simpson remembered where the basket was as she helped her team to a 16-0 run over the first six minutes of the third quarter and all of the Swifts players getting court time.  Tegan Jackson made her way onto the scoresheet as Warriors were kept to just one basket in nine minutes as Swifts led 84-34 going into the final period.

The intensity naturally waned, but with Shannon Brook and Eleanor Butt scoring the final two baskets, the team got into three figures to record an outstanding 101-44 victory that keeps them firmly at the top of the table.  Powell with 25 points, Ellmore 21 and Bennett 17 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 82  HERTFORDSHIRE WARRIORS 43

Looking to emulate their under 14 club mates, Southend Swifts under 16s also met Hertfordshire Warriors in their latest league fixture.

The visitors made the better start, taking a 7-2 lead after three minutes and with Southend unable to convert from the foul line, this looked like being a long afternoon.  However, a three-point play from Clare Gold seemed to settle her team and scores from Megan Jones, Gold and Emma Pallett gave the hosts a 15-11 first quarter advantage.

But the second period would see a complete change in proceedings.  Amber Evans showed her versatility at both ends of the court and with Zoe Willis getting to the basket despite some very close attention, Swifts had the first 10 points to lead by 14.  Jones was clearing up the rebounds at the defensive end and her passes to Pallett triggered a wave of fast breaks.  Hertfordshire could manage just four points in the period, whilst conceding 20 as Southend led 35-15 at half time.

The third quarter saw even more offensive power.  Evans made a three-point shot and when Jones managed the same on consecutive offences, it was 47-19.  The re-introduction of Charlotte Bennett added further pace and a 9-2 run over the final three minutes made it 61-25 at the end of the third quarter.

Jones made a further three-pointer before she left the game for good after two minutes but Bethany Wheeler, Gold and Bennett kept up the scoring.  Kacey Realf showed her vast improvement with rebounds at both ends as well as four points as Swifts comfortably closed out the game by 82 points to 43.  Jones with 24 points, Gold 18 and Bennett 10 leading the scoring.

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

NEWHAM ALL STAR SPORTS ACADEMY (NASSA) 76  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 42

Southend Swifts new look under 18 boys team travelled into London to take on high flying NASSA.

The home side had the better of the opening exchanges, leading 8-4 after five minutes.  Southend hit back as Brad Wood kept up his scoring exploits and at the end of the first quarter the home side’s lead was just 19-15.

A 10-0 run took NASSA clear and despite a three-point basket from Louis Davies, NASSA had the last six points to lead 35-20 at the midway break.  Another unanswered run, this time of 11 points, took the hosts 26 ahead and despite good work from Tomi Oye-Bamgbose, there was little chance of a way back, with Wood sitting out with injury.  The deficit of 55-31 at the end of the third quarter turned into a 76-42 defeat as Swifts chase their first away win.  Oye-Bamgbose with 14 points, Davies 11 and Wood 10 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 107  BUCKS HORNETS 25

After a break of two hours, and a large picnic, Southend Swifts under 14 girls were again in action for their second game of the day, when they met Bucks Hornets.

After conceding the first basket, Southend turned on the power.  Rhian Simpson had 10 of the first 12 points and with Georgia Powell and Grace Crook dominant around the basket, Swifts ran in the next 30 points and it was time to take off the defensive pressure and get everyone onto court; the lead at 36-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Shannon Matthews and Tegan Jackson quickly scored and with Charlotte Redhead and Katie Bennett keeping the scoreboard turning the margin went over 40.  A final basket from Eleanor Butt made it 54-13 at half time.

The third period saw Crook dominate, as she had no fewer than 14 points as she converted some excellent passes from her team mates.  The scoreline standing at 82-15 going into the final stanza.

With the two year 7s, Redhead and Butt, sharing 14 points in the final 10 minutes, it was for Bennett to score her first ever three-point shot that took the team into three figures with all of the players scoring for the second time in the day.  Crook had a career high of 32 points, with Redhead on 18 and Simpson 16.


23 November 2013

UNDER 16 BOYS - NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 47  EASTSIDE EAGLES 38

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed Eastside Eagles to Eastwood Academy on Saturday.  The two sides split their fixtures in last season's contests, so both wanted to get the upper hand this time round.

Both sides started brightly and after four minutes the scores were tied at 5-5; Swifts' points coming from Declan Gould, Dan Davies and Josh Powell.  The visitors took the lead at 10-5, before Swifts hit back through the same three scorers to level it again at 10-10.  Another Davies basket took his side's lead to 12-11, before the opposition would knock down their third and fourth three-pointers of the first quarter to lead 17-12.  Aggressive play from Davies and Powell helped narrow the deficit to 18-16 at the end of the opening period.

The second quarter showed everything that the Swifts side could do at a high standard.  Increased defensive intensity led to fluid offensive movement and five points from Scott Williams and another basket for Davies gave their side a 23-18 lead.  Eagles replied with a free-throw, but Williams, Dan Sach and Archie Hoyi added to their team's total to give them a double-figure lead at 29-19.  Further scores for Gould, Davies and Jamie Matthews extended the advantage that led to a half-time score of 35-22, having won the quarter 19-4.

Tom Butt opened the second half with four points, equaling the total of the guests as the score moved to 39-26.  .Dan Davies weaved his way to the basket for a tough layup and then completed a fantastic passing move with a 15 foot shot as his side held a 43-33 lead going into the final period.

The game's last 10 minutes were a very defensive affair as Swifts looked to control the tempo of play and retain their lead.  Powell added four points to his personal haul with composed finishes, but these would be the only scores for the home side.  Eagles would score five in return, but it was Swifts who would take the victory 47-38.

Davies led the way with 16 points, followed by Powell 10 and Williams with 7


16 & 17 November 2013

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

HARINGEY ANGELS 77  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

The battle between two of the titans of girls basketball is generally an epic and this first meeting of the season between unbeaten Haringey Angels and Southend Swifts was no different.

Haringey had the first six points of the contest but Southend hit back and a Zoe Willis “and one” made it 7-6 to the hosts.  The teams traded baskets before another Willis score gave Swifts their first lead at 14-12 and despite both sides missing foul shots, they held on to lead 15-14 at the end of the first quarter.

Angels re-took the initiative, scoring five straight and with Swifts Megan Jones being very tightly marked, the lead remained at four.  The introduction of Daisy Herd gave the visitors a burst of energy and when she made her way through the home defence the deficit was down to one.  Jones got her team ahead with a putback but Haringey had the next four and they held on to lead 33-30 at half time.

However, the start of the second period would see a major change.  Emma Pallett and Claire Gold found their shooting touch and they shared the first 11 points that brought their team level at 41.  Again, neither side could go clear as Herd and Jones again found the basket.  The hosts were kept scoreless for the final three minutes as Swifts took a 50-47 lead going into the final period.

Jones with a pair of foul shots and a Willis lay-up maintained the margin before Jones finally found her range from outside the three-point line and another Pallett score made it 59-51 with six minutes to play.  But, as always, Haringey hit back and they had the next six to trail by just two.  Willis and Jones got the lead back to four and that was where it stayed with three minutes to play.  Angels had eight straight but Jones again from distance and a pair of Willis foul shots got Southend ahead by one and the spectators certainly on the edge of their seats.  Haringey had the next four and with Swifts managing just two foul shots over the final two minutes, the London side kept their nerve to make three out of four foul shots to end up winners of an outstanding contest by 77 points to 71.

Jones with 26 points, Willis 19 and Pallett 10 leading the scoring on a day when both coaches and teams had finally had a meaningful league game.

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 90    GREENWICH TITANS   54

After 4 weeks with no games, Southend Swifts youngest boys team were desperate to play and their opponents fell victim to their pent up energy when the hosts shot into a 10-0 lead after just 3 minutes!

With Dan Adebayo scoring at will, ably supported by Alex Skingle and with changes of personnel that saw immediate contributions from Zack Littlejohn, Lewis Jeffery and Jacob Thorne, Swifts continued to dominate the first period and established a 27-14 lead.  The visitors from Greenwich were quite skilful but could not match Swifts height and athleticism, in particular that of Skingle and Matt Kerridge and with guards Lukas Volk and Joel Bailey providing the accurate passes Swifts dominated the 2nd period even more with runs of 15-2 and 8-1 to establish a half time lead of  50-22.

This scoreline allowed the host coach to give valuable court time to his bench and in particular newcomers Matty Nicholls and Nick Skinner, who continued the good work of Volk and Bailey and both scored their first ever points for the club.  With the press taken off and changes of personnel in place there was an inevitable reduction of momentum for Swifts and a consequent surge of confidence in the visitors which resulted in a much more even 2nd half.  10 of the 12 Swifts players scored and the points were quite evenly distributed but 12 years old Dan Adebayo’s 20 points, 4 blocks and numerous rebounds at both ends of the court were the highlight of an all round very good team performance.  Top scorers: Adebayo 20; Skingle 17; Kerridge 15; Thorne 8; Littlejohn 7.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 81  GREENWICH TITANS 50

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed Greenwich Titans to Eastwood on Saturday, looking to improve on their 2-3 season record.

The match started slowly, with the visitors holding a narrow 3-2 lead after three minutes.  An 8-0 run for Swifts, led by four points apiece for Josh Powell and Dec Gould, giving them a 10-3 lead.  The next six minutes saw Swifts close out the quarter with a 7-2 run, but this would be blighted by 10 missed free-throws for the home side.

The second quarter opened with an 11-0 run for Swifts, as Powell, Gould, Dan Davies, Paul Jeboda and Jamie Matthews all found their way onto the scoresheet in the balanced offense.  Titans scored a layup, but this was half of their total for the period as Gould, Matthews, Harry Harwood, Jeboda and Archie Hoyi increased their side's score to lead 43-11 at the half.

Regular changes in personnel and defensive strategies led to a much more open third quarter of play.  Williams had four points in the opening three minutes to combine with a Jeboda offensive putback, extending the lead to 49-11.  A 5-0 run for the visitors was halted by Gould and the teams traded baskets to end the quarter with the margin at 61-25.

Matthews opened the final stanza's scoring, but again Titans would hit back with a 7-0 run.  Williams, Jeboda and Gould took over the scoring for their side for the remainder of the game as they closed out a very comprehensive victory by a score of 81-50.

Gould led the way with 24 points, followed by Williams with 12 and Jeboda on 11

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 105  FRENFORD FALCONS 58

After a difficult start to the season, Southend Swifts under 18 boys have started to produce some very good performances.  The visit of league newcomers Frenford Falcons gave them the opportunity to strengthen their league position.

A Brad Wood three-point play got the team going and scores from Matt Buckley and Liam Jones took the lead to 11-3.  Wood and Louie Davies were controlling the pace of the game and these two players dominated the scoring as their team led 24-13 at the end of the first quarter.

The introduction of Tomi Oye-Bamgbose brought a burst of energy and with under 16 player Paul Jeboda using his athleticism around the basket, the margin began to increase.  Wood found his range from outside the three-point line and the gap went over 20 and when Jeboda made a Hail Mary on the half time buzzer, Swifts lead stood at 58-31.

Jones opened the scoring in the third period and a Wood “and one” took the advantage to 66-35.  Despite some very good shooting, Frenford were unable to stop Southend’s scoring spree and with Davies and Wood vying for the most outrageous scores of the game, the lead went to 86-49 with one stanza remaining.

Oye-Bamgbose showed how his shooting has improved with his second three-pointer of the game, and although the final 10 minutes was much less intense, Swifts ran out winners by 105 points to 58.  Wood led the way with 41 points, with Oye-Bamgbose and Jeboda on 15 and Davies 14.

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

MEDWAY CRUSADERS   72    SOUTHEND SWIFTS   68

After an hour’s journey into Kent and for the first time this season the young Swifts faced a team even taller and more athletic than they were.  It’s not often that 6’6” Jacob Thorne gets marked by someone the same height!

Despite this, Swifts started the better when Lukas Volk scored the first five unanswered points of the game.  Crusaders drew level but Swifts pulled ahead again with excellent scores from Matt Kerridge and Alex Skingle to lead 10 – 5 after 5 minutes.  Crusaders suddenly found their rhythm and went on a 15-4 run and shell-shocked Swifts found themselves 14-20 down at the end of the 1st period and this run would prove crucial to the result of the game.

A Joel Bailey 3 pointer opened the scoring for Swifts in the 2nd period and with excellent work from Kerridge and Skingle on the boards at both ends and Dan Adebayo at last finding his scoring touch, Swifts slowly clawed their way back into the game reducing the deficit to 32-39 at the half

The 3rd period produced a similar pattern with Swifts closing the gap to just five at 50-55 by the end thanks to 8 points from Bailey and scores from Volk, Kerridge, Skingle and Thorne.  It was the 4th period that was to prove most exciting for the enthusiastically noisy crowd.  A surprise full court press for the first time in the game had the desired effect of disrupting Crusaders rhythm and resulted in scores from Adebayo, Kerridge, Skingle and Bailey in particular with 6 points drawing them level with their hosts with less than 4 minutes to go.  Then, apparent disaster for Swifts when both Adebayo and Thorne were fouled out within the same minute and the momentum Swifts were building towards a potential shock victory was halted.  Crusaders took advantage of this by establishing a 6 point lead with 31 seconds left but the valiant Swifts youngsters were not done yet.  After a Swifts time out resulted in an immediate steal and score by Volk the impetus shifted back towards the visitors and when Fred Lyons scored within a few seconds, Swifts found themselves just 2 points down with 15 seconds left.  However, the hosts had possession and were trying to run the clock down.  A smart couple of quick fouls from Bailey eventually put Crusaders on the line with 2.5 seconds left but they scored both and left Swifts no chance of taking the game to overtime.  A fantastic game and a superb performance from the visitors who, with four players unavailable to play due to football commitments, must be hopeful of potential revenge in the return game at Eastwood in February.

Top Scorers: Bailey 21; Kerridge 14; Volk 11; Skingle 8; Adebayo 8


9 & 10 November 2013

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86  CITY OF BIRMINGHAM 20

For their latest league encounter, Southend Swifts under 14 girls met new opposition in the form of City of Birmingham.  The Midlanders are in their first season of play and are still looking for their first win after five games, whist Southend are unbeaten in six outings.

Despite a scrappy start by their own standards, Swifts soon powered ahead.  10-0 after four minutes, it was 18 unanswered after six minutes and the pressure defence taken off.  Rhian Simpson showed huge improvement around the basket as she had eight first quarter points as her team led 26-0 after the opening 10 minutes.

Although there was even more passivity at the defensive end, the scoreboard continued to move.  Charlotte Redhead, Grace Crook, Cheyenne Deridisi and Shannon Brook all found the basket as the score hit 40 before Birmingham finally broke their duck.  Amelia Wilson, with a stunning score past three defenders, Eleanor Butt and Chelsea Locke completed the scoring, which saw Swifts lead 46-4 at half time.

Still the young Swifts continued to look for their colleagues, although perhaps with less urgency than is usual.  Crook and Locke certainly relished the scoring opportunities with regular leading scorers Charlotte Ellmore and Georgia Powell willingly taking a back seat on this occasion.  Four points from Katie Bennett ended a quiet 3rd quarter as Southend led 64-12.

Simpson again displayed her scoring prowess, with six of the first ten scored and with Locke and Bennett showing great athleticism, Southend ran out comfortable winners against very valiant opponents by 86 points to 20.  As usual, there was an excellent points spread, with Simpson on 16 points, Bennett 14 and Locke 12.

UNDER 16 GIRLS SURESHOT NATIONAL CUP – 2ND ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71  PECKHAM PRIDE 39

Away from league action, Southend Swifts under 16 girls had their first tie in this season’s Sureshot National Cup.  This second round match would be against Peckham Pride, a club that are fast making a strong impression in the girls’ game.

And it certainly looked like a difficult encounter as the teams shared just nine points in the first five minutes.  Good foul shooting from Megan Jones and Charlotte Bennett got Southend ahead and four points from Clare Gold helped the hosts to a narrow 13-9 first quarter lead.

After conceding the first basket Swifts, in the form of Jones and Gold, started to exert their normal pressure.  The two shared the next 15 points that saw the lead increase to 10 and daylight appearing between the teams.  Nine straight points made it 36-18 as Zoe Willis and Carlie Abbott took on the scoring mantle and a pair of Gold foul shots took the score to 40-21 at half time.

A three-pointer from Jones opened the third period and despite conceding six of the next eight points, Willis and Jones steadied the ship.  Not for the first time this season, Jones found herself on the end of some aggressive defending, which brought an accidental collision and nosebleed that meant she would take no further part in the game.  But her team mates carried on the good work and scores from Sasha Cornell and a long range effort from Evans took the margin to 59-29 going into the final quarter.

With Bennett sitting out as well as Jones, Peckham took advantage to score the next six points.  However, Gold and Bennett made four of six foul shots and with Bethany Wheeler triggering a final 6-0 burst, Swifts moved into the 3rd round of the cup with a 71-39 win against a team that will certainly be a major force at this age level in the future.  Bennett and Jones with 17 points apiece and Gold 16 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

LEWISHAM THUNDER 81  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 59

Southend Swifts under 16 boys again travelled into London, this time to Lewisham Thunder, looking to get over their comprehensive defeat at the hands of Peckham Pride the previous weekend.

Swifts started brightly, getting out to a 4-3 lead after 2 minutes, behind scores for Declan Gould and Paul Jeboda, but from this, the hosts sprung into life.  With Swifts unable to deal with the defensive pressure and seemingly forgetting how to pass the ball to each other, they fell behind 16-6 following a range of elementary errors.  Gould and Jeboda scored again, but at the end of the first quarter, Swifts trailed 20-10.

 Thunder opened the second stanza with a 5-0 run, before a Josh Powell three-pointer was followed by a basket from Tom Butt and a free-throw from Powell to narrow the deficit to 25-16.  Jamie Matthews found his way to the basket with good work on the offensive end to keep his side in touch at 29-22 and Butt and Connor Adams registered scores to close out the half trailing 37-26.

However, the hard work that Swifts had done to get themselves in with a chance in the contest, was undone by a 10-0 run to start the second half for Thunder.  Gould managed his team’s first points of the half three minutes in, but Swifts were powerless to slow their opponents.  Jeboda scored five, Powell had three and Dan Davies made a basket, but at the end of the third period their side trailed by a margin of 66-40.

Scott Williams scored his first points of the contest to open the final quarter, before Davies nailed a three-pointer to make the score 69-45.  Swifts found some impetus to break against their opponents who had now made a number of personnel changes and Gould would score eight points in three minutes.  This kept the margin of defeat somewhat respectable at 81-59 in favour of Lewisham.

Gould led the way with 16 points, followed by Jeboda with 15 and Powell with 9.

UNDER 18 GIRLS SURESHOT NATIONAL CUP – 2ND ROUND

READING ROCKETS 66  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62 (AFTER OVERTIME)

The final game of the weekend saw Southend Swifts under 18 girls make the trip west to take on Reading Rockets in a second round Sureshot National Cup tie.

Reading made the better start taking an early lead with only the two Jones’s, Abbie and Megan, finding the basket for Southend.  The introduction of Lucy Brown energised Swifts but at the end of the first quarter they trailed just 16-15.

However the second quarter would see a complete transformation.  Southend’s defensive pressure began to reap rewards and with Rockets being called for fouls on almost every defensive set, the visitors moved ahead.  Reading could manage just four points in the period as Amy Rodgers and Zoe Willis combined for 12 to take their team 36-20 ahead at half time.

The third quarter was a completely different matter as suddenly Reading’s defence was deemed legal.  Swifts struggled to get good looks at the basket and with the home side making shots from distance, they turned the game around completely to lead 47-44 going into the final stanza.

Southend made the stronger start and with Louise Corfield finding some confidence, they clawed back the deficit.  Four points from Charlotte Bennett took them ahead and a three-pointer from Fay Solkhon took them five ahead with a minute to play.  However, Reading held their nerve to tie the game up at the end of regulation time to send the game into overtime.

With nerves on edge, neither team could make the decisive break.  At one point down, Swifts defensive pressure seemed to have earned a turnover only for the match officials to decide they were unable to see which team should have possession and awarded it to Reading.  Swifts were unable to get the ball back and fell to a very disappointing defeat by 66 points to 62.  Megan Jones with 16 points and Rodgers and Willis 9 apiece leading the scoring.


2 & 3 November 2013

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 86  HACKNEY WHITE HEAT 43

After a difficult start to the season, Southend Swifts under 18 men looked to gain their first victory of the season when they met Hackney White Heat in their latest league encounter.  The London club are one of the most famous in the country with an outstanding record in player development.

But from the start, Southend took control.  Led by the effervescent Louie Davies, the home side scored the first 23 points of the game to hold an unassailable lead.  Hackney finally managed a basket but Swifts had the final four to lead 27-2 after the opening 10 minutes; Davies already with 10.

After conceding the next seven points, White Heat had their best spell, scoring 10 straight, but Tomi Oye-Bamgbose would give an indication of his potential as he had nine in the quarter as his team led 40-12 at the half time interval.

A 13-2 run, with six from Brad Wood, took the margin close to 40, but Hackney again showed their fortitude with 11 straight but an Oye-Bamgbose three-pointer closed the scoring as Swifts led 58-27 going into the final period.  The team started to play with much more fluency as Davies and Wood shared long-range shots.  Liam Jones and Matt Buckley also kept the scoreboard moving as Southend recorded a surprisingly comfortable 86-43 win.  Wood with 25 points, Davies 22 and Oye-Bamgbose 19 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 90  NORTHANTS LIGHTNING 44

Looking to maintain their 100% record, Southend Swifts under 14 girls had a home fixture against Northants Lightning, a club that boasts an excellent girls programme.

From the start, Southend were determined to stamp their authority on the match.  Eight points in the first, with six from Georgia Powell, started the points flow and despite a five point burst for Northants, the lead was 14-7 after six minutes.  Charlotte Ellmore again showed her range of skills with six points.  But the introduction of Katie Bennett boosted the scoring rate and 14 straight points in four minutes made it 30-7.  Four more from Bennett ended the quarter with the home side leading 34-9.

With the result effectively settled, the defence becomes more passive and the personnel changed.  Charlotte Redhead had six points before the re-introduction of Powell saw her also register six personal.  Amelia Wilson got to the basket for a tough lay-up and a Cheyenne Deridisi foul shot and a Grace Crook put back helped their team to a 50-23 half time lead; Powell already with 24 points.

The third quarter saw Crook and Chelsea Locke show their offensive skills as they shared 10 points and Rhian Simpson and Eleanor Butt finding their range, the margin increased to 74-38 with just the final 10 minutes to play.  The final period were really just the formalities.  Swifts spent the final three minutes trying to get Shannon Brook onto the scoresheet, but the tenacious defender simply could not find the basket as her team ended very comfortable winners by 90 points to 44.  Powell with 28 points, Ellmore and Crook 12 and Redhead and Bennett 10 each leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 70  IPSWICH BOBCATS 54

Like their younger club mates, Southend Swifts under 16 girls looked to maintain their unbeaten record when they welcomed Ipswich Bobcats to their home court.

Southend took an early 8-4 lead, with four from Amber Evans, but Ipswich hit back with nine straight to lead by five.  However, the hosts quickly recovered to reduce the margin to one with a Charlotte Bennett score.  A 6-2 run took Swifts back in front and a three-pointer from Megan Jones took her team 25-19 ahead at the end of the first period.

Four points from Carlie Abbott was part of six straight points that took the margin to 12 but Ipswich hit back with 11 points of their own to reduce the margin back to one.  Evans had some superb defensive plays that kept her team ahead.  Another Bennett score and four from Zoe Willis took the lead back to seven but Bobcats had the last score to trail just 39-34 at half time.

The teams traded baskets for the first three minutes as Southend led 43-40 before Southend made the decisive break.  12 unanswered points, with six from Claire Gold, put daylight between the teams, as the margin stood at 55-42 going into the final stanza.

The Suffolk side reduced the margin to 12 but Jones and Willis shared the next six and that was game done.  Jones had once again she led her team to victory when the whole squad never played to their fluent best but were always in control.  Jones with 21 points, Gold 15 and Willis 11 leading the scoring.    


26 & 27 October 2013

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 36  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 84

For their third game of the season, Southend Swifts under 16 girls travelled to East London to take on a new club at this level, London Greenhouse Pioneers.  With an experienced coach, Fe Keown, and a group of athletic players, the Londoners seemed likely to pose a tough threat to Southend’s unbeaten record.

A pair of Emma Pallett foul shots and a Charlotte Bennett lay-up got Swifts started but Pioneers hit back and after three minutes, Southend’s lead was just 6-4.  However, as is often the case, the Essex side turned up the heat.  A three-point play from Amber Evans was followed by scores from Claire Gold, Megan Jones and Pallett and after a reply from the hosts; a 10-0 run took Swifts clear at 25-6 after eight minutes.  Evans and Carlie Abbott completed the first quarter scoring with Swifts leading 29-7.

Changes of personnel had little effect with Jones, Bennett and Pallett all sitting out.  Evans had the first four points before Zoe Willis and Sasha Cornell got onto the scoresheet.  Baskets for Gold and Bethany Wheeler took the lead over 30 before Pioneers hit back with six straight.  But Swifts returned the compliment, with Alicia Medina-Smith getting in on the scoring and at half time, the lead was 50-21.

As always in these situations,   Southend lower the intensity with the match effectively over as a contest.  The line-ups are varied to give all players valuable court time.  Some of the play was certainly disjointed before six points from captain Jones steadied matters as her team led 62-30 going into the final 10 minutes.

Three points from Cornell and four from Wheeler were part of a 13-4 run that took the team 75-34 ahead.  Willis and Gold continued with the fast moving offence as Swifts ended with an 84-36 victory.  Despite the size of the win, Pioneers are certainly a team that will only improve with further games and should prove to be one of the better outfits in this division.  Jones and Evans with 16 points and Gold 12 leading the well-spread scoring.

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

PECKHAM PRIDE 80  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 31

Southend Swifts under 16 boys travelled to Peckham Pride on Saturday knowing a tough contest would be in store, as they faced the side who are current National Champions at this age.

Swifts' thoughts were a reality as the hosts started at lightning pace, turning steals into fluid fast-breaks that saw them lead 26-10 at the end of the quarter.  The visitors struggled to deal with the intense defensive pressure being exerted by Pride and despite good work on the defensive end by Paul Jeboda, his side would manage just four points in the quarter to trail 38-14 at the half.

The third quarter would again show Peckham's threat on both ends of the court as the lead extended to 66-23 at the end of the third quarter.  With fatigue setting in for both sides, the final period was a more even contest with the hosts outscoring their visitors 14-9 to take the victory by a margin of 80-31.  


UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SEVENOAKS SUNS 73  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 57

After three comparatively straightforward victories, Southend Swifts knew they were in for a much tougher encounter when they travelled down to take on Sevenoaks Suns.

The home side had the best of the opening encounters as they took an early 6-2 lead but scores from Louise Corfield, Megan Jones, Charlotte Bennett and Amy Rodgers took Swifts 11-9 ahead.  Sevenoaks hit back with seven straight points on their way to am 18-13 first quarter lead.

However, the second quarter would be a disaster for Southend.  After scoring the opening basket, they failed to hit the target for six minutes whilst Suns scored 16 points and soon the deficit was 20.  In the last four minutes, they could manage just two foul shots from six attempts as Suns had the final seven points to lead 45-17 at half time.

It remained to be seen whether Swifts could at least salvage some pride.  Bennett and Jones began to find the basket and although the usual fluency was lacking there was certainly greater fight.  Bennett, in particular, had a huge 10 minutes and although the margin extended slightly to 66-36, this was far closer to what is expected.

The final period was almost a reverse of the second quarter.  Suns managed just seven points whilst Swifts seemed to score at will.  But it was really never going to be enough as Southend fell to a very disappointing defeat by 73 points to 57.  Bennett with 16 points and Jones 14 leading the scoring.

Next weekend sees four home matches for the club.  On Saturday the under 18 men look for their first victory of the season when they take on Hackney White Heat with a 5 pm tip off.  On Sunday, all three girls teams see action.  The under 14s meet Northants Lightning, the under 16s play Ipswich Bobcats and the under 18s welcome Surrey Stealers.  The first game starts at 11 am with all matches at Eastwood Academy.


19th & 20th OCTOBER 2013

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85   SOUTHEND SCORPIONS 46

After two tough games and two wins, Southend Swifts under 14 boys team were top of the South 2 table before their encounter with the winless Southend Scorpions.  The coach took the opportunity to blood two new players, Nick Skinner and Lucas Hilsum, and rest three of the usual starting five, Lukas Volk, Matt Kerridge and Alex Skingle.


Relishing the prospect of starting for the first time this season, Zack Littlejohn, Lewis Jeffery and Jacob Thorne showed great intensity, determination and skill in helping to establish a 12-0 lead after just three minutes.  Along with usual starters Joel Bailey and Dan Adebayo, the young Swifts dominated their less experienced opponents for the entire first period to establish a potential game winning 32-12 lead.


The introduction of five different players and a half court defence in the 2nd period saw an inevitable reduction of intensity and scoring as well as some nerves from the debutants.  For Swifts, Josh Dalton, Fred Lyons and Archie Clark all contributed but the less aggressive and less experienced defence allowed Scorpions’ Stone more freedom and he capitalised, scoring 10 out of his team’s 15 points that quarter to give his team a more respectable 27-43 scoreline at half time.


The re-introduction of most of Swifts starters in the 3rd period saw them pull away from Scorpions quite dramatically and in particular the contribution of 6’6” Jacob Thorne, who scored 18 of his team’s 22 points in that period.  Scorpions could only manage 4 points and the result was beyond doubt as Swifts lead 65-31 going into the final period.


The final period was relatively even with Stone continuing to find the hoop for Scorpions and eventually amassing an impressive personal tally of 29 points for the game.  For Swifts .two consecutive 3 pointers from Bailey and scores from Jamie Rombaut, Theo March and Lucas Hilsum kept the momentum going and secured a comfortable 85-46 win, strengthening their position at the top of the table.  However, there are tougher games to come and the youngsters cannot afford to be complacent.


Top Scorers: Thorne 28, Bailey 11, Adebayo 11, Jeffery 10,


 

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 80  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS II 55

Southend Swifts under 16 boys welcomed London Greenhouse Pioneers 2 to Eastwood for their third game of the season.  Both teams came into the game with a 1-1 record, meaning it was destined to be a close encounter.


The home side started in blistering pace, going 6-0 up inside the first minute behind scores for Tom Butt, Declan Gould and Scott Williams.  However, a more composed approach from Pioneers brought the scores closer to have them trail just 7-6 midway through the first quarter.  Swifts moved the ball well on offense to surge ahead 24-13 with scores from Gould, Williams, Dan Sach and Dan Davies – the latter pair each hitting a three-pointer – but the final five points of the first quarter belonged to the visitors leaving the score at 24-18.


A slow start to the second quarter saw just four points shared equally between the sides.  Gould then demonstrated his explosive athleticism, getting to the basket and being rewarded with free throws, scoring five-from-six.  Archie Hoyi, in his first game for the side, sank a three-pointer taking his side’s lead to 36-25 with a minute remaining.  The final minute of the half saw Davies score another basket from beyond the arc plus an and-one basket from Gould and at half time Swifts led 42-27.  Gould with 19 points in the first 20 minutes of play.


Swifts again showed the same intensity with which they began the game to start the second half.  Paul Jeboda finally found his way onto the scoresheet, followed by a score for Hoyi, before Gould scored five points in a row.  With defensive pressure leading to fast-break opportunities, Hoyi scored again before Gould finished two more tough layups effectively guaranteeing a home win at 57-31.  However, a change in personnel slowed the scoring and at the end of the quarter Pioneers hit four three-pointers in a row to leave them trailing just 61-45.


The final quarter opened with a Jeboda put-back basket before four points from Gould and a nice finish from Josh Powell left the result out of doubt at 70-48 with five minutes remaining.  Following three points for Pioneers, Swifts scored eight in a row through Jeboda, Davies and two baskets for Powell, before Butt scored his side’s final points of the game in a convincing 80-55 victory.


An excellent team victory was led by Gould with 32 points, followed by Davies with 9 and Williams and Hoyi with 7 respectively.  


UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

BUCKS HORNETS 27  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 83

Looking to maintain their unbeaten record, Southend Swifts under 14s made the trip around the M25 to take on Bucks Hornets.  Southend had three wins from their games played, whilst Bucks had suffered a narrow defeat in their only match so far.

Swifts made their customary fast start with Georgia Powell scoring her team’s first six points.  Hornets replied with a foul shot before a 5-2 run made it 11-3 in the third minute.  But the rest of the quarter was one way traffic as the Essex side ran in 20 unanswered points with no less than seven players already on the scoresheet, with Charlotte Ellmore and Rhian Simpson prominent.

Unsurprisingly, Swifts intensity dropped against very inexperienced opposition.  Grace Crook and Chelsea Locke found their scoring touch as Hornets battled to get back into the game.  Despite some uncharacteristically scrappy play, Southend ran in some late points to lead 48-13 at half time.

Despite their defence becoming even more passive, Southend kept Bucks scoreless for nine minutes as they scored the first 15 points on their way to a 65-17 advantage at the end of the third period.  The final 10 minutes saw a mini virtuoso performance from Swifts captain Amelia Wilson who danced through for some stunning lay-ups as her team finished comfortable winners by 83 points to 27, with Powell on 18 points, Simpson 14 and Crook 13.

UNDER 18 MEN – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 62  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 86

A new look Southend Swifts under 18 men played their first game of the season when they met Newham Youngbloods.  To go alongside returnees Louie Davies, Liam Jones, Sam Read and Brad Wood, Swifts have brought in a number of players from the Seevic AASE academy, looking to further progress their play.

The visitors took an early 5-2 lead but a three-pointer from Matt Buckley and four points from Wood took Southend 9-7 ahead.  Four points from Davies made it 13-9 but Newham hit back with a 12-2 run that took them ahead at 21-15, which the hosts narrowed to 23-18 at the first interval.

With defences on top, the lead increased to just 29-20 after five minutes before both teams finally found their touch.  A Wood three-pointer completing the first half scoring that saw his team trail just 36-29 at the interval.

Southend continued to battle against very athletic opponents as good foul shooting from Buckley and Wood kept them in contention.  A Davies trey and a Buckley score and it was just 46-42 midway through the third period.  However, the loss of Wood, surprisingly adjudged to have committed five fouls, stopped the offensive fluency and despite excellent work by Jones at both ends of the court, Youngbloods lead was 59-48 going into the final 10 minutes.

The lack of match cohesion certainly showed and despite a valiant effort from Davies and Jones the margin continued to increase, which ended with an 86-62 victory for Newham.  Davies with 22 points and Wood 17 leading their team.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 101  IPSWICH BOBCATS 46

After a subdued performance the previous day, Southend Swifts under 14 girls looked to get themselves back into rhythm when they entertained Ipswich Bobcats on their home court at Eastwood Academy.  This would be an undoubtedly much tougher encounter against a club boasting one of the best girls programmes in the country.

And so it seemed as Ipswich held the early initiative.  Southend’s ball movement was well below its’ normal standard as they found themselves trailing 8-3 after four minutes and an upset looking a possibility.  However, suddenly things changed.  Charlotte Elmore and Georgia Powell started to get to the basket and an Ellmore foul shit tied the game at 10.  Four from Chelsea Locke gave the hosts their first lead and although Bobcats got level at 14, the final three minutes of the first quarter showed how powerful these young ladies can be.  Tenacious defence was turned into very rapid offence and with Katie Bennett scoring eight points in a minute, the score at the end of the first quarter was 29-14.

The opening two minutes of the second period was no different.  Charlotte Redhead continued her progress, scoring five as part of 13 straight points that took Swifts clear at 42-14; 28 unanswered points in five minutes, much to the delight of the spectators.  Ellmore was in scintillating form, finding her way to the basket with some exquisite left-handed moves as well as feeding her teammates.  Rhian Simpson had six straight as Southend opened a remarkable 67-22 half time lead; Ellmore with a preposterous 25 points personal.

Understandably, the 3rd quarter had much less intensity, allowing Bobcats to score six of the first eight points.  However, Ellmore and Locke combined for the next 10 to make it business as usual, to take the Essex team 81-30 ahead at the end of the period.

As always, Swifts take very opportunity for player development rather than just running up the score.  This day, it would be their youngest players who would their chance, with just their under 13s (school year 8 and younger) playing the final quarter.  And these youngest Swifts acquitted themselves beautifully, with great ball movement as well as the usual speed and dexterity.  Redhead and Powell combined well and it was left to the two very youngest, both year 7 – Redhead and Eleanor Butt - to share the last six points that took their team over the 100 mark.

An outstanding team performance led by Ellmore with 33 points, Redhead 22 and Powell 16.

UNDER 18 MEN – NATIONAL CUP 1ST ROUND

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 56  LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 71

For the second day running, Southend Swifts under 18 men met London opponents.  For this National Cup game, they took on London Greenhouse Pioneers, a relatively new club already making an impact in the game.

Southend made a good start as three-pointers from Louie Davies and Brad Wood took then 8-2 ahead.  Pioneers fought back, with the scores tied at 11 after five minutes.  The visitors got in front at 16-13 before a 10-2 spell took Swifts 23-18 ahead at the end of the first quarter; Kieran Taylor with a three-pointer on the buzzer.

Baskets from Liam Jones and Matt Buckley took the margin to nine but back-to-back threes from the Londoners reduced the margin to three.  Scores from Jones and Wood kept the hosts ahead before the visitors had the last seven points to lead 38-35 at half time.

However,  despite having a very depleted squad, Swifts continued to fight.  Wood and Davies combined for 11 points as they got ahead at 46-41.  The London side hit back with the next six and it was nip and tuck at 51 all.  Southend failed to score over the last two minutes as they trailed 54-51 going into the final period.

But Southend’s lack of depth would hurt them badly.  They could not cope with Pioneers stifling defence and could register just five more points, whilst conceding 17 to lose by 71 points to 56; a disappointing outcome after a very good opening three quarters.

Wood with 25 points, Davies 16 and Jones 10 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 MEN – NATIONAL CUP 1ST ROUND

NEWHAM ALL STAR SPORTS ACADEMY (NASSA) 63 SOUTHEND SWIFTS 46

Southend Swifts under 16 boys travelled to Newham to face NASSA in the first round of the national cup on Sunday, a team who two years ago beat Swifts by 80 so a tough game was set to be in store.

The game got underway with a three-pointer from Scott Williams, followed by two-from-two from the same player from the free-throw line to give Swifts an early 5-2 lead.  The home side hit back with two points, before Tom Butt made his way to the free-throw line twice in a row, converting 2-from-4.  These would be the last points the visitors would score for 5 minutes whilst NASSA scored 11.  Paul Jeboda breaking the drought with a free-throw to leave his side trailing 15-8 at the end of the first quarter.

The home side opened the second quarter with a 6-1 run before Swifts began to find their confidence.  Jeboda's blocks and rebounds on the defensive end allowed Swifts to run at the hosts, something that they struggled to deal with.  A three-pointer from Josh Powell was followed by another score from the same player, and when Jeboda made a layup on which he was fouled, the scoreboard read just 21-16 to NASSA.  Jeboda made one-from-two from the free-throw line on the next play and Declan Gould found his way to the basket to narrow the deficit to 21-19.  However, NASSA closed the half out with an 8-3 run to lead 29-22.

Gould scored the first points of the second half, but again NASSA answered with a run to extend their lead to 15 at 39-24.  However, Swifts were not finished.  Jeboda scored a pair of free-throws and then Williams took over the offensive production.  The guard barrelled his way to the basket, drawing fouls and making impressive finishes that forced the London side to switch personnel.  His haul of six points in two minutes drew his team closer at 41-33.  Jeboda then made an and-one basket and Davies again connected with a shot from distance to leave Swifts trailing 45-39.  

The final quarter would be dominated by the hosts as Swifts struggled to find any offensive flow.  Fatigue and careless mistakes led to fast-break opportunities for the home side who won the quarter 16-7, giving them a 63-46 victory.

Jeboda led the way with 12 points, followed by Williams with 11 and Powell with 7 in what was a very fine team performance and showed how much progress this team has made.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85  LEWISHAM THUNDER 21

For the final game of a busy club weekend, Southend Swifts under 18 girls met Lewisham Thunder at home.  After a disappointing defeat in their first game, Southend have had two comfortable victories but knew they would have to be sharp against a tall and athletic team.

After conceding the first basket, Swifts swung into action.  Aggressive defence was turned into rapid offence and when Lewisham were able to stop the fastbreak, the three-pointers started to connect.  The two Joneses, Abbie and Megan, shared all of the first quarter points as Southend opened a 19-3 lead.

Despite constant changes of personnel, the barrage continued.  Charlotte Bennett and Deanna Blake shared eight points and when Amber Evans made an old-fashioned three point play, it was 32-7.  And suddenly it was raining three-pointers.  Amy Rodgers and Evans flowed by a Zoe Willis two before Rodgers connected with two more from long range and at half time it was 50-11.

Both sides struggled to connect at the start of the 3rd period, with just another Rodgers trey in the opening three minutes.  But after conceding four points, Swifts reeled off the next 15 points, shared by Bennett and Abbie Jones to lead 68-17 with one stanza to play.

With Thunder noticeably tiring, Claire Gold and Chloe Spencer had the big plays as their team ended with a surprisingly comfortable 85-21 win with five players ending in double figures.


12th & 13th OCTOBER 2013

UNDER 16 BOYS – SOUTH II CONFERENCE

ISLINGTON PANTHERS 69  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

Southend Swifts under 16 boys travelled to Islington Panthers to attempt to get their season going in the right direction following a heavy defeat in their opening game.  The two sides have shared a number of close contests over the previous few seasons, so this promised to be an interesting encounter.

Swifts started quickly with a basket for Declan Gould, before sharp outside shooting from Scott Williams kept the scores close at 11-9 in favour of the hosts.  Gould scored again before having to take his place on the bench following the collection of three fouls in four minutes.  Williams continued his impressive start to the game with a further four points and Josh Powell, into the game for Gould, scored Swifts' last six points of the first quarter to leave them trailing 26-21 after some impressive outside shooting from Panthers.  

Powell continued his fantastic play with his side's first four points of the second quarter, before Swifts found some real fluidity on offense.  Four points from Gould and a further basket from a Powell 15-footer tied the scores up at 31-31.  A balanced final six minutes of the quarter, in which Swifts got scores from Paul Jeboda, Dan Sach, Powell and Williams, saw the visitors hold a narrow 43-42 lead at the half.

With Swifts scoring the opening seven points of the second half, behind five for Jeboda, the score stood at 49-42, but Panthers were not finished.  They fought back to trade baskets and trail just 55-51 at the end of the third quarter following a last second three-pointer.  

Sach, Powell and Jeboda extended the Swifts' lead to 61-51 from excellent assists by Dan Davies and it seemed that Swifts would now be comfortable to see out the victory.  However, the visitors became their own worst enemies.  Careless passes and wrong decisions gave Panthers the chance to score easy baskets and close the gap to 63-57.  Five more points for Williams and four from Jeboda gave their side a 71-62 lead with two minutes remaining, but from here Swifts went into disaster mode.  Fouls lead to free-throws for Islington and poor decisions saw the gap narrow to 71-69 with 20 seconds left.  Gould, returning from his exile on the bench, would inadvertently 'head' the ball to Panthers who then missed a final shot allowing Swifts to secure the very hard-earned victory.  

Jeboda led the way with 22 points, followed by Powell with 18 and Williams with 17.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 96  COUNTY UPPER SUFFOLK COYOTES 31

Looking to preserve their unbeaten league record, Southend Swifts under 14 girls welcomed County Upper Suffolk Coyotes to their home court.  Southend’s line-up had a disjointed look with their two tallest players, Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson and influential guard Shannon Brook all unavailable.

Nevertheless, whoever was missing had little effect on the performance.  Showing their customary speed and dexterity, Swifts overwhelmed their opponents.  Georgia Powell had the first seven points and with Charlotte Redhead having the next six, it was 13-0 after five minutes.  Charlotte Ellmore and Katie Bennett got onto the scoresheet and after eight minutes, it was 25-0 and the pressure defence taken off.  This barely changed the tempo and further scores, culminating with an Amelia Wilson lay-up, made it 33-0 after the opening 10 minutes.

With the game over, Southend took the opportunity to give their less experienced players court time.  Eleanor Butt, Molley Gould and Tegan Jackson all acquitted themselves well, despite their team’s defence being much more passive than usual; the scoreline at half time standing at 45-11.

There was a little more urgency from Southend in the third period.  Ellmore and Butt shared the opening eight points and excellent foul shooting from Wilson and Ellmore moved the lead to 56-14.  Jackson and Bennett found their touch and at the end of the third quarter, it was 68-20.

Powell and Redhead got the final period off to a solid start, although defensively Swifts were not exerting any of their usual pressure.  From 78-29, the hosts had runs of eight and 10, interrupted by just one basket as they ran out very comfortable winners by 96 points to 31, with no fewer than five players in double figures.  Powell with 22 points, Ellmore 18 and Redhead 16 the leaders.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 119  COUNTY UPPER SUFFOLK COYOTES 16

After the comfortable victory for their under 14 club mates, it was the turn of Southend Swifts under 16 girls to take on the same opposition, County Upper Suffolk Coyotes.  The team from Suffolk are newcomers to the National League this season.

For many seasons, Swifts have been advocates of there being a Premier League being set up at this age level.  This would give more experienced a tougher series of games, allowing those new to the game to have more meaningful encounters.  Unfortunately, a number of clubs have declined this option, preferring to have matches that give a false sense of where they actually are in the structure of girls’ basketball.

This situation can have rarely have been more clearly illustrated.  Swifts led 15-0 after two minutes and 25-0 after four.  The pressure defence was taken off and the more experienced players sitting on the bench.  50 points were registered before Coyotes managed a score and it was 52-2 at the end of the first quarter.

The second period was largely the same, if a touch slower.  The speed of the movement of the ball would have troubled any opposition but the half time margin of 77-6 was certainly no real test of Swifts’ abilities.

For the second half, Swifts had their tallest player dribbling the ball with their smallest playing close to the basket – a complete reversal of the norm.  There were no fastbreaks and tall players could not score from rebounds.  None of this made any difference other than ensuring that the Suffolk side were not on the end of a cricket score.

The final score of 119-16 helped neither team.  Seven Swifts were in double figures and all 12 featured in the scoring.  But there will tougher games ahead and this really was no preparation.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

BRIXTON TOPCATS 38  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 85

For the last club game of the weekend, Southend Swifts under 18 girls travelled to South London to take on Brixton Topcats.  With the mercurial Jimmy Rogers at the helm, the Londoners were likely to be a much sterner test than in recent seasons.

And so it seemed as the game was tied at five midway through the opening quarter as Southend struggled to find their scoring touch.  But suddenly everything clicked into gear.  After four points from Amy Rodgers, which was countered by a Brixton basket, Swifts reeled off the next 13 points as their defensive formation reaped rewards with Fay Solkhon finding her team mates with numerous assists.  Megan and Abbie Jones shared 11 of the points scored as their team led 22-7 at the first interval.

The start of the second period was no different as the visitors had 18 of the first 21 points scored with Claire Gold contributing eight.  Five more from Rodgers and a score on the buzzer from Abbie Jones made it 45-19 at half time.

With the job effectively done, Southend adopted a less aggressive defence.  Megan Jones helped herself to the first 11 points as the lead went over 30 and further baskets from Lucy Brown and Gold extended the margin to 66-27 going into the final stanza.

Gold again showed her potential with 10 points in the final 10 minutes and with Deanna Blake securing the final two baskets as her team ran out well-deserved winners by 85 points to 38.  Megan Jones with 25 points, Gold 20 and Abbie Jones 13 leading the scoring.

5th & 6th OCTOBER 2013

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 76   LONDON GREENHOUSE PIONEERS 1 74

Yet another very tough and even closer game for Southend  Swifts under 14 boys, when they welcomed London Greenhouse Pioneers to their home court.

The game started evenly with the teams trading baskets early on before Swifts established a slender 8-5 lead after 5 minutes.  A 9-2 run saw the visitors get ahead and with Swifts back court players struggling against the Pioneers excellent pressing defence it was going to need some excellent work from the host team’s big men to bring about a win.

The visitors established a 17-14 lead at the end of period one and continued to extend that for the first 5 minutes of the 2nd period to find themselves 31-22 ahead.  However, when Swifts put their four tallest players on together they began to pull back and scores from Alex Skingle, Matt Kerridge and Jacob Thorne the deficit reduced the margin to just 4 points at half time 31-35.

In the 3rd period, despite the Swifts big men scoring well, Pioneers very good offensive duo of Cuffy and Donegal proved difficult to stop and the visitors pulled ahead again to lead 43-36 after 4 minutes. However, a 14-5 run lead again by Skingle, Kerridge and Thorne brought Swifts their first lead of the game at 50-48 after 8 minutes.  The lead was short lived and Pioneers finished the 3rd period 56-52 ahead.

A reasonably good start in the final period by Swifts helped by good points from Lewis Jeffrey brought the scores level at 61 apiece after 3 minutes.  A 7-0 run from the visitors looked ominous as Swifts seemed to have lost their scoring momentum but yet another run of points in this see-saw game saw the hosts draw level at 70-70 with just 3 minutes to play. A 4-2 run saw the visitors 74-72 ahead with less than 2 minutes left on the clock but consecutive scores from Skingle and Kerridge gave the lead to Swifts with just 20 seconds left. The visitors had the ball but a travelling violation gave Swifts the ball back with 10 seconds left and despite a last second steal from the visitors, the hosts managed to hang on for an excellent win against very talented and well coached opponents.  Once again, Swifts superior height advantage proved decisive as shown by top scorers, Skingle 24, Kerridge 15, Jeffery 10, Adebayo 9, Thorne 8, and Bailey 7.  Swifts now sit top of National League South 2 Division with a 2-0 record.

UNDER 14 GIRLS FRIENDLY

HARINGEY ANGELS 62  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 68

After a crushing victory in their first league fixture the previous week, Southend Swifts under 14 girls made the trip into London for a friendly game against the club all women’s teams measure themselves – Haringey Angels.  Haringey always produce skilful, athletic players and this latest group is part of a long line that will always be in the top echelon in the country.

Both teams showed early nerves, with Southend’s foul shooting letting them down and six straight for Angels took them 8-4 ahead after five minutes.  Georgia Powell showed her team how it should be done, making three out of four from the foul line, to reduce the deficit to one and that was where it stayed before another flurry gave Swifts a narrow 15-13 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

Scores from Powell and Charlotte Redhead took the margin to six and when Amelia Wilson scored whilst being fouled, Southend led 23-15 after six minutes.  As always, Angels fought back, scoring the next seven points and it was a one point game again going into the last two minutes.  But Southend’s Charlotte Ellmore took over proceedings and she had the final eight points to give her team a 31-22 half time advantage.

Swifts knew the storm would come but with Grace Crook and Rhian Simpson matching the Londoners height to rebound tenaciously, the lead stayed at eight at 39-31.  But disaster struck with both Ellmore and Powell in foul trouble, meaning both had to be rested.  The home side took advantage with six straight and it was a two point game.  But these young Swifts go very deep down their bench.  Simpson with a pair of foul shots, Crook and Redhead with lay-ups, Simpson with a put-back and finally Tegan Jackson, surprising even herself, made it 49-42 going into the final quarter.

Haringey had the first three before a Redhead foul shot and a Shannon Brook lay-up took it back to seven.  But a 5-2 run made it 54-50 and the momentum with Angels.  Powell and Ellmore came back into the game and with Crook fouling out, it was still going to be tough.  However, all of the youngsters stepped up.   Katie Bennett made a tough lay-up, Powell with a pair of foul shots and a basket, three foul shots from Bennett and an Ellmore score and it was 65-51 with two minutes to play.  Angels had the better of teh closing salvos but there was no way back as Swifts recorded an outstanding 68=62 win.

Now it was only a friendly game, and it is very early in the season, but you would have to think these two teams will be there or thereabouts when the silverware is distributed at the end of the season.  Powell with 19 points, Ellmore 14 and Simpson 10 leading the scoring.

UNDER 16 GIRLS – MIDLAND EAST CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 107  NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS 58

For their first game of the season, Southend Swifts under 16 girls welcomed Newham Youngbloods to their home court at Eastwood Academy.  Southend were certainly expecting a tough encounter, with their under 18 clubmates suffering defeat against the same team the previous week.

Swifts made a good start taking an 11-2 lead with Charlotte Bennett finishing well but Youngbloods made a spirited recovery to trail just 15-11.  However a time-out for the hosts had the desired effect and with newcomer Claire Gold scoring freely, a 9-0 run took the team clear.  Captain Megan Jones found her range from the three-point line and at the end of the first quarter, the lead was 31-15.

The start of the second period was equally devastating with an 11-1 spell taking the lead to 26; Amber Evans’ defensive prowess reaping dividends.  Swifts changes in personnel had little effect with Carlie Abbott and Sasha Cornell keeping the scoreboard turning.  Kacey Realf maintained her dramatic progress with rebounds at both ends of the court and at half time the lead was 59-26.

A much more subdued period of play saw the lead approach 40 with Jones again leading the way.  From 71-34, Southend ran off the next 10 and the game was finished as a contest at 83-38 with one quarter remaining.   Bennett and Jones sat out the final period and with Zoe Willis getting her form back, Swifts ran out comfortable winners by 107 points to 58.

No fewer than six players ended in double figures, with Jones on 22 and Abbott and Willis with 17 apiece.

UNDER 18 GIRLS – SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 77  LONDON UNITED 52

After a disappointing first game the previous week, Southend Swifts under 18 girls looked to get back onto winning ways when they had a home fixture against London United.

Southend looked to establish their superiority from the outset, scoring the first 10 points, as their energy and defensive abilities forced turnovers.  Led by the effervescent Abbie Jones, the game looked like it could turn into a rout before London’s Chyna Sawyers took charge and she had 10 of her team’s 12 points as her team trailed just 17-12 at the end of the first quarter

The start of the second period was more positive for Swifts as they re-established their double digit lead.  Jones, Claire Gold and Amber Evans had unanswered baskets and it was 32-14.  A pair of Lucy Brown free throws and another Jones score and it was 40-25 at half time.

Megan Jones had the host’s first five points and with Abbie Jones and Charlotte Bennett scoring all of the points in an 11-4 run, the lead increased to 56-33 on the way to a 59-39 advantage with the final 10 minutes to come.

Zoe Willis took over proceedings, scoring 10 personal in the quarter, and despite sterling opposition from Sayers - 26 points in the game – Southend had a very comfortable win by 77 points to 52.  Megan Jones with 20 points, Abbie Jones 17 and Zoe Willis 15 leading the scoring.

UNDER 14 GIRLS – MIDLAND SOUTH CONFERENCE

SOUTHEND SWIFTS 95  BRENTWOOD FIRE 43

Due to other commitments, the timing of this match was re-arranged as Brentwood were unable to field a full team at the original time of 11 am.  As it transpired, they were only able to field six players against a team that had won at Haringey the previous day.

Whether it was the fact they had been in such an exciting encounter or that their opponents were so limited in numbers, Southend were certainly not at their best.  There was little of the fluency from the previous day despite holding an 8-1 lead after four minutes.  The loss of Georgia Powell, adjudged to have committed four quick fouls, made for some player adjustments, with the lead just 10-5 after five minutes.  But the last five minutes saw a much better performance as a basket from Charlotte Ellmore and two each from Shannon Brook and Rhian Simpson made it 20-7 after the opening 10 minutes.

The second period saw the teams trade baskets before Swifts again cut loose.  From 25-13, there were two 8-0 runs, interrupted by just one score, as the lead went to 41-15.  Ellmore and Charlotte Redhead shared most of the spoils interspersed with a basket from the diminutive but tenacious Cheyenne Deridisi as the hosts at least got into third gear.

As is always the way with Swifts teams, there is never any intention of just running up a cricket score.  The defence becomes less intense, although that may not inhibit the offence.  Captain Amelia Wilson scored a lay-up and an old-fashioned three-point play before Ellmore had five straight.  Simpson and Brook scored again before, to the delight of the spectators, Tegan Jackson found this game to her liking.  She danced through the defence on four occasions to score with a foul shot from Eleanor Butt completing a very good quarter as the lead stretched 48 at 73-35.

The defence was even more passive in the final period.  Redhead continued to score at will and when Chelsea Locke made a pair of foul shots, all 11 players had scored.  Powell managed to stay out of trouble to score the final basket as Southend recorded a resounding victory by 95 points to 43.  Redhead with 22 points, Ellmore 21 and Jackson a career-high 11 leading the scoring.SUNDAY 29th SEPTEMBER

U16 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS  90  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 54

The Under 16 boys got their campaign underway with a short trip to Newham Youngbloods Extreme, but knew they would face a tough task given a number of absences due to illness and injury.

Scott Williams got the team’s first points on the board to level the scores at 2-2 and Declan Gould and Paul Jeboda kept their side in the game at 15-10 with a minute left of the first quarter.  It was in this final minute that Swifts would arguably play their best basketball of the game.  Incisive passing and smart defensive work led to further baskets from Gould, Williams and a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Dan Davies to give the away side a slender 17-15 lead.

However, Davies’ heroic shot seemed to spur on the hosts more than his own team.  A physical press from Youngbloods led to turnovers that were routinely punished with fast-break scores and at half-time the London side led 48-26.

The third quarter would follow a similar pattern as Swifts struggled with a combination of a lack of depth and a fast-paced contest.  Jeboda would score all four of Swifts’ points in the period in reply to 27 from Newham.

With the result almost certainly out of contention at 75-30, Newham took the opportunity to rotate their squad for the final period.  Jeboda seized this opportunity to demonstrate his rapidly improving skillset, taking rebounds on one end and going coast-to-coast for athletic finishes at the other to add 19 points to his personal haul.  Tom Butt would also rediscover his aggressive play, making his way to the basket for five points in the period.  However, this was too little too late as Swifts went down 90-54.

Jeboda led the way with 28 points followed by Gould with 11 and Butt with 5


SATURDAY 28th SEPTEMBER

U14 BOYS NATIONAL LEAGUE SOUTH 2

NEWHAM YOUNGBLOODS  67   SOUTHEND SWIFTS 71

In their first game of the new season Swifts youngest boys team faced a good Newham team in what was to prove a hard fought contest. Unsurprisingly both teams struggled to find any fluency in the early exchanges and after 6 minutes the scores were level at 6 apiece. A 9-2 run with scores from Dan Adebayo and Alex Skingle saw Swifts with a 15-8 lead after 8 minutes. Then 6 consecutive points from Joel Bailey took Swifts to a 21-11 lead at the end of the first period. On the down side Dan Adebayo and Lukas Volk had been adjudged 3 fouls each and had to sit out most of the next two periods. The 2nd period saw a good recovery from Newham led by their outstanding point guard Toliusis who scored an impressive 35 points in the game. Swifts managed to keep ahead with scores from Archie Clark and 9 points straight from Matt Kerridge to lead 38-33 at half time. With the referees calling a lot of fouls both Bailey & Skingle found themselves in foul trouble and joined Volk & Adebayo on the bench for most of the 3rd period. However, good work from Archie Clark, Zack Littlejohn, Lewis Jeffery and Jacob Thorne helped keep Swifts in the game despite a strong 23-14 comeback from the talented Newham boys that gave them a 56-52 lead at the end of the 3rd period. Swifts started the 4th period with their first five and were outstanding with a 13-4 run in 7 minutes led by Adebayo with 8 pts. Further scores from Kerridge and Skingle using their height advantage to great effect enabled the young Swifts to secure a 19-11 advantage in the crucial 4th period and thus secure a valuable win in their campaign to try and reach the Play Offs for a second consecutive season. Top scorers Kerridge 21, Skingle 18, Adebayo 16, Bailey 10.



SATURDAY MAY 4TH

GIRLS UNDER 14 NATIONAL LEAGUE – SEMI FINAL

SEVENOAKS SUNS 62  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 57

So after a club season stretching back to last October, there was just one Southend Swifts team still in action; the under 14 girls had reached the biggest junior event in English basketball, the Final Fours in Sheffield.  Their first task was to get past Sevenoaks Suns, who won the South Division with a 100% record and have Lithuanian born England under 16 international Gabby Nikitinaite leading their team.  Swifts had Zoe Willis back in the line-up having been out for three weeks with badly damaged ligaments in her right hand.


Nerves certainly got the better of Southend in the early exchanges as they found themselves six behind.  A Summer Osbourne foul shot opened their account, but Sevenoaks had the better of the opening minutes as they led 11-4.  Amber Evans began to find the basket but Swifts were showing none of their normal offensive fluency as they trailed 17-11.  An Osbourne three-pointer lifted her team and a late Willis basket made it 21-16 at the end of the first quarter although three fouls on captain Emily Gaskin would limit the rebounding.  What was noticeable was that all of the Swifts’ players had already made an appearance on court, ensuring all tasted the experience of this outstanding event.


Southend upped their defensive intensity preventing Suns from getting the easy scoring opportunities they had enjoyed in the opening period.  Swifts offence was still below its’ best but with Willis starting to get to the basket, and Osbourne again scoring from very long distance, the deficit was reduced with Sevenoaks leading just 35-32 at half time.


The third quarter would see a much improved performance.  The movement of the ball was better as Sevenoaks struggled against Swifts defensive pressure.  Sasha Cornell and 12 year old Charlotte Ellmore both contributed four points apiece in the period as Swifts got back into the contest, tying the game up at 49 at the end of the third at the end of the third stanza.


An Evans three-pointer gave Southend their first lead as the crowd noise grew but Sevenoaks hit back with a similar effort.  Nerves certainly had the better of all players with scoring at a premium.  Both teams missed chances they would normally expect to take, as it was just 58-57 going into the final two minutes.  However, Swifts would fail to score again as Sevenoaks had the final baskets to record a 62-57 victory.  Willis with 21 points, Evans 17 and Osbourne 10 had led the team on a day when they knew they had not really done themselves justice on the biggest stage.


GIRLS UNDER 14 NATIONAL LEAGUE – 3rd/4th PLAY-OFF

MANCHESTER MYSTICS 65  SOUTHEND SWIFTS 48

The lay-out of the Arena at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield means that the under 18 and under 16 games that take place are side-by-side giving all teams two hours rest between matches.  For the under 14 teams, who play in a separate hall, there are single games.  This means that the team that loses the second semi final has the 3rd/4th play-off game within 30 minutes of finishing their semi final.


This was the fate that befell Southend Swifts under 14 girls who, after the emotion of losing their semi final by just five points, had to meet Manchester Mystics without any kind of rest period.  And so it showed as they conceded the first eight points as they went scoreless in the opening three minutes.  Baskets from Amber Evans and Grace Livermore got them started but after six minutes, the deficit was 12-6.  However, a burst of energy, gave Swifts six straight points and at the end of the first quarter, they trailed just 14-10.


However, the second quarter would really see fatigue kick in.  Despite numerous changes in personnel, Southend went scoreless for the final five minutes, whilst conceding 12 points as they trailed 38-15 at half time and seemingly out of contention.


However, led by inspirational captain Emily Gaskin, Swifts began to mount a comeback.  Manchester were held scoreless for five minutes and had scoring efforts, and officials decisions, gone more in their favour the run may have been greater than five points.  Zoe Willis had five to reduce the margin back to 40-26 but Mystics hit back with a 6-0 spell of their own.  Gaskin and Evans combined for the next seven as Swifts went 7-2 and with the final 10 minutes to play it was 50-33.


Still Southend would not give up but that normal spark and energy wasn’t there.  Sasha Cornell had six points but there was really no way back as Swifts lost disappointingly by 65 points to 48, with Evans on 15 points, Willis 15 and Gaskin 9.  The medals the team received said 4th in the country and, on the day, that was where they finished.  But they, and the proudly watching parents, knew that on another day they could have been taking home the trophy.


Southend Swifts: Zoe Willis, Summer Osbourne, Sasha Cornell, Lauren Kinch, Grace Livermore, Charlotte Ellmore, Alicia Medina-Smith, Chelsea Locke, Kacey Realf, Rhian Simpson, Emily Gaskin (capt), Amber Evans, Georgia Powell.

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