BE U15 Girls Battle at the Pauline Prior International Challenge ’19 in Nottingham
The Pauline Prior International Challenge in Nottingham offered the England U15 Girls a fantastic chance to take on older and more experienced competition, in their first taste of international basketball as a group. The tournament featured the GB U16, Ireland U16 and the England U15 Girls, presenting a tough test for the English Girls on home soil.
The tournament was hosted by the Nottingham Wildcats at their Wildcats arena, where the Girls would practice and compete across 3 days.
The Girls arrived at the arena at 3 pm, where they did introductions and then jumped straight into a team practice with Coach Cristina Stanciuca, Barney Blake and Tom Stansfield. They were put through their paces with a variety of skills, drills and competitive situations, in preparation for what would be a tough challenge the following day versus the big and physical Ireland U16 Girls.
After practice and a good stretch they jumped on the bus to the hotel, where they were assigned their rooms before heading for a team meal at the local Nandos. After a solid dinner it was back to the hotel to get some rest before a big Day 2 of the tournament.
The girls had an early wake-up and ate breakfast together at the hotel, fuelling up for a long and intense day of international basketball! They were transferred by bus to the arena, and their morning at the home of the Wildcats tipped-off with a team practice at 10 am, which tested the Girls both mentally and physically.
A solid lunch and some rest time ensued, before Cristina took the Girls to the great outdoors and led them through a yoga and stretching session to help clear their minds and relax their bodies before the afternoon battle.
They began warm-ups for their game against a strong Ireland U16 team and their first competitive match-up as a group. It was a tough start for the girls as they dropped the 1st quarter 11-27, with Ireland using their size and toughness to get the better of the younger English girls, who were a little jittery in the first 10 minutes of their international careers. However they weren’t to be outdone in the 2nd, battling hard and matching the effort and toughness of the Irish, going into the break trailing 24-46. In the 3rd the Irish continued to use their size and strength to their advantage, and maintained a solid lead at 74-38. However a spirited performance by England U15 in the 4th saw them win the quarter by 2 points, with a final score of 87-53 to Ireland U16.
The Girls stuck around to watch GB U16 v Ireland U16, which finished 81-57 to the Irish, before eating some dinner at the arena and then boarding the bus back to their hotel for some much needed rest and recuperation. The Girls had individual meetings and a team meeting, before heading back to their rooms for the rest of the evening.
The Girls again enjoyed a hotel breakfast before being shuttled back to the Wildcats arena for the final day of the tournament. This morning they would be playing against the GB U16 team, which featured many national league teammates of the younger girls and would prove to be a very exciting game!
The U15 Girls had a blistering start to the game, playing great defensively and pushing the ball well up the floor, taking a 17-12 lead at the end of the 1st and surprising their older rivals. The GB Girls were not to be outdone, and came storming back in the 2nd quarter to take a slim lead of 33-28 into halftime. A very strong run by England in the middle of the 3rd saw them claim back the lead, before GB’s run of their own reversed the tables and gave them a 46-41 lead with one quarter remaining. It was GB’s experience and physicality that eventually prevailed, as a strong push through the 4th led to a 64-49 win.
The Girls then ate their lunch and stuck around to watch the GB v Ireland game, which this time was won 76-62 by the British Girls after a tough loss the previous day. Some individual meetings with the coaches ensued for the England U15 Girls, before they departed the arena and returned to their respective homes across the country.