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Barking Abbey Crowned First WEABL National Champions

Mansoor Ahmed/Ahmedphotos

Barking Abbey are the 2016 WEABL National Champions after they defeated Charnwood College 59-46 in the Final at the LCS Arena, on Wednesday afternoon.

Chloe Gaynor earned the MVP award with a tough display that consisted of 16 points (4-5 FG, 8-10 FT), seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks to lead her side to victory.

“It feels very good [to be MVP],” she said. “It was a good all-round team performance – we really pulled together to get the win.

“We always knew it was going to be tough – no game against Charnwood is easy.”

Stand-in Head Coach Mark Clark added: “I’m obviously very pleased that we managed to secure a 10th national title. It was a bit messy in the fourth quarter, but you have to give Charnwood some credit – they never quit.

“I thought our defence was excellent throughout. I thought that Monique Esbrand demonstrated again she has the potential to be a top-level player, and Chloe Gaynor, albeit with some pretty sore knees, put on a very good demonstration of the progress she’s made as a big girl.

“It’s important to note that Karen Burton got this team to the final, so a lot of the credit for the progress of this academy team this year must go to her.

“I’m pleased all around – I just hope the girls enjoy the experience because that’s what these moments are about; they work hard throughout the year.”

BA looked to be cruising towards the title by the end of the third, but were held to just a single point in the opening eight minutes of the final quarter as a tense finish ensued to put a halt to any early celebrations.

Zoe Willis had opened the game with a 3-pointer to spark a 12-2 start for Barking Abbey. Despite a strong crowd support, Charnwood were slow to find their rhythm and still found themselves trailing by 10 at the end of the first, down 7-17.

The gap was increased to 15 points early in the second, before Charnwood reduced their deficit into single figures with Nicole Hofmann netting from beyond the arc. However, a strong close to the half saw BA restore their double-digit advantage to lead 33-22 at the break.

Charnwood started the third quarter brightly with the opening six points, but it was Barking Abbey who produced the more clinical run as a 12-2 spell created a 15-point lead at 45-30. Gaynor moved to 14 points with some strong finishes inside, helping to give her side a 48-35 cushion to take into the final period.

It was a real battle in the fourth with both teams fighting for everything, but they were unable to turn their desire into points with Charnwood gradually clawing their way back into contention. They held BA to just a single point whilst closing to within five points at 49-44 inside the final two minutes.

However, that was as close as they would come with Willis holding her nerve to sink three successive free throws to all but ice the win in a 10-2 close.

Hofmann led the Charnwood Riders’ resistance with 15 points including some timely 3-pointers, while Jessica Eadsforth Yates scored 10 of her 12 points in the first half.

Box score.

The final brings an end to a fantastic first season in the WEABL, and you can re-live Barking Abbey’s title victory with the full game replay below: