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WEABL Playoffs – Elite Eight Preview

The quarter-final lineup is complete as eight teams remain in the hunt to win the second WEABL Championship title.

In the league’s first year, the playoffs began at the Final Four stage but start a round earlier this season having expanded to 10 teams.

All four of last season’s semi-finalists make a return to the post-season with Barking Abbey looking to defend their crown.

Here’s a run down of the four last eight matchups:

City of London Academy (1) v Greig City Academy (5)

Top of the South meets 5th as CoLA host 2016-17 newcomers Greig City for a place in the last four.

Jackson Gibbons – last season’s Coach of the Year – guided his side to nine wins from nine before seeing their unbeaten record ended by Barking Abbey in Week 14.

Toyosi Abiola has had another strong season with three Player of the Week awards and leads the scoring charts with nearly 20 points per game in her nine outings.

“After a successful regular season we are really looking forward to the playoffs,” said Gibbons.

“We have a ton of respect for Dan (Bowmaker) and his GCA programme and are excited to welcome them to CoLA.

“I’ve said before I think they are the team of the future but there’s no reason why they couldn’t be the team of today if we don’t approach the game in the right way.”

It has been somewhat of a baptism of fire for GCA in their first season with eight defeats alongside their two victories over Rydens – both 95-25.

They tested CoLA in the last meeting before going down 32-47 at home with scoring lacking at times with Precious Adediran the only player to average double figures in points.

Leading scorer: Toyosi Abiola 19.8ppg (CoLA)/Precious Adediran 10.0ppg (GCA)

Leading rebounder:
Ire Ozzy-Momodu 13.4rpg (CoLA)/ Precious Adediran & Shanice Flitton 6.5rpg (GCA)

Leader in assists: Ibilola Oyedeji 3.3apg (CoLA)/B Nwabuokei 2.0apg (GCA)

Oaklands College (2) v Nottingham Academy (3)

After missing out on a top four spot last season, Oaklands have come back stronger with their development aided by a debut season in the Women’s British Basketball League (WBBL).

Kyla Nelson earned back-to-back Player of the Week awards in the midst of a five-game win streak to close out the season 8-2.

Oaklands took pride from completing a season double over the reigning champions, Barking Abbey with their only defeats coming at the hands of CoLA.

“The players are really looking forward to the playoffs,” said Oaklands’ Head of Performance, Lee Ryan.

“The WEABL has risen in standard across the board this year again, which is fantastic news for the women’s game.

“Nottingham are lively and have improved through the season, it will be a good test but the girls will be ready.”

As for Nottingham, they picked up three wins – all over Loreto – in the North as they battled against Charnwood and Myerscough in their first season in the league.

Brahe Ashton has starred and leads her team in points, rebounds and assists categories with Ines Guerreiro and Denise Lawal adding further scoring threats.

Phil Waghorn said: “Our girls have been moving well on offence over our last 2 games and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing one of the top teams in the south.”

Leading scorer:
Krisztina Nagy 17.6ppg (Oaklands)/Brahe Ashton & Ines Guerreiro 10.0ppg (Nottingham)

Leading rebounder: Tia Freeman 8.1rpg (Oaklands)/Brahe Ashton & Freya Bennison 5.7rpg (Nottingham)

Leader in assists: Kyla Nelson 4.4apg (Oaklands)/Brahe Ashton 4.0apg (Nottingham)

Myerscough College (2) v Barking Abbey School (3)

The defending champions overcame a slow start to the season to secure a top-3 finish in the South.

However, it was not enough to earn a home quarter-final and they face a tricky test away at Myerscough – who finished their maiden campaign with a triumph over the previously unbeaten Charnwood.

BA’s Karen Burton commented: “With the team having played well the last couple of games we are happy with our style of play.

“Although it’s a tough trip to Myerscough and then a possible match up with CoLA in the semis, we are ready and prepared for the defence of our title.”

Barking Abbey have a strong roster with many playing key roles on their WBBL team and are led by GB Senior international, Savannah Wilkinson.

Alongside Abigail Johnson in the paint, they will have their work cut out in a battle against Milly Knowles on the glass with Johnson and Knowles both averaging double digits in rebounds.

Knowles and Shauna Harrison both averaged 19+ points per game during the regular season to sit amongst the top four scorers in the league.

“We had had a great first season and have exceeded my expectations,” said Myerscough’s Head Coach, Julie Page.

“The match up with Barking is going to be the biggest test yet but one that we are relishing. We are really looking forward to our first post season fixture in our first year in the WEABL”.

Leading scorer:
Shauna Harrison 19.7ppg (Myerscough)/Savannah Wilkinson 13.3ppg (Barking Abbey)

Leading rebounder: Milly Knowles 10.1rpg (Myerscough)/Abigail Johnson 12.3rpg (Barking Abbey)

Leader in assists: Emma Cheetham 3.3apg (Myerscough)/Charlotte Ellmore 4.3apg (Barking Abbey)

Charnwood College (1) v Copleston High School (4)

Two second-year teams clash for the first time with Charnwood looking to go one better than their runner-up showing last season.

A dominant run in the North was stopped at nine games as Myerscough inflicted a first loss, but the small blemish will not harm their confidence.

Sharpshooting guard Harriet Swindells torched Loreto for 45 points in Week 15 and leads a strong squad sprinkled with WBBL experience.

Krumesh Patel said: “I’m looking forward to a quarter-final match up with Copleston.

“The last time we played them it was a good encounter in the cup final. We are excited to have a team from the South down at Charnwood and believe it will be a good game.”

Nick Drane’s Copleston side lost out to Barking Abbey in their final league game, just as they did in last year’s semi-final encounter, but finished with four wins from nine overall.

“Charnwood is a team that we faced three times last season and all three games followed the same pattern,” said Drane.

“They clearly have a very deep and talented roster and are well coached. However, we know that we are a team that is capable of beating anyone on our day so we are ready for the challenge.”

Ashleigh Pink – an All-First Team member last season – has continued to impress with her all-round game with strong numbers across the board including a league-high 5.0 assists per game.

Maya Price has been a welcome addition and not only tops the rebounding charts, but also led the league in efficiency as well as blocks with a staggering 3.1 per outing.

Leading scorer:
Harriet Swindells 17.3ppg (Charnwood)/Ashleigh Pink 16.8ppg (Copleston)

Leading rebounder: Megan Jones 10rpg (Charnwood)/Maya Price 14.5rpg (Copleston)

Leader in assists:
Harriet Swindells 2.9apg (Charnwood)/Ashleigh Pink 5.0apg (Copleston)

Key Dates:

Quarter Finals: Wednesday March 15th
Semi-Finals: Wednesday March 22nd
Finals: Wednesday March 29rd, Leicester Community Sports Arena

Catch up with all the regular season statistical leaders in the WEABL here.

Follow the results from all the playoff match-ups with the WEABL on Twitter @WEABL, Instagram @WEABL, and Facebook at Facebook.com/WEABL.