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2019/20 Season Preview – Northern Conference

The WEABL season is upon us with Week 1 games tipping off this Wednesday. Programmes across the country have been recruiting players to replace those who have graduating or moved on to pastures new, so  lets take a look at the Northern Conference ahead of an exciting 2019/20 season.

Charnwood College

After going unbeaten and winning the title last year, Charnwood will be looking to continue that success in 2019/20 but it won’t be easy after graduating 15 players from last year’s roster.

Included in that group is Northern Conference MVP Holly Winterburn who has enrolled with Oregon after averaging 26 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 5.8 apg and an impressive 32.2 efficiency a year ago. All-Conference 1st team selection Megan Jones and All 2nd team pair Rebecca Morrison and Holly Wright will also be hard to replace. Coach Patel will hope the signing of GB U16 guard Neve Marvill will help propel them forward, the guard headlines a solid intake of new players.

“Having won the title last year and going unbeaten, plus graduating 15 players from last year, it leaves us with a brand new group with a brand new hunger to do well,” said Head Coach Krumesh Patel. “It’s an exciting time for this group so we’ll see if they can leave their mark in the WEABL.”

“After a really successful season last year I’m excited to see what we’ll accomplish as a team this upcoming season,” added returning GB U18 selection Hannah Dawson. “It will be a challenge but one we’re all looking forward to after all the work we put in the summer.”

Derby Trailblazers

The Trailblazers are heading into their first WEABL season and provide a new challenge for all the Northern Conference sides.

As an unknown entity, the opening weeks of the season will no doubt provide Head Coach Paul Bowen with a good yard stick on how his newly assembled roster stacks up against the standard of the WEABL.

“We know it is going to be a tough first season, but the players have already shown a great attitude and think the improvements will be massive,” said Bowen.

Manchester Mystics Academy

After a first round exit in the play-offs last year, the Mystics will hope they can improve and progress further this season.

With five notable departures including All-Conference 1st team member Chloe Andrew (University of Northwestern Ohio), who contributed a sizeable 14.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.6 apg and 2.9 spg throughout 2018/19, plus All 2nd team selection Remi Idowu who averaged nearly double digit rebounds per contest, both players offered production that will be difficult to replace.

But Manchester will hope the return of All-Conference 1st teamer and GB U18 player Jade Mbam will give them a strong base to build around as debut Head Coach Tom Paraskeva tries to work a number of new arrivals into his roster.

“I’m looking forward to facing some new, challenging competition in the WEABL with some great new additions to our Academy,” said Mbam.

Myerscough College

Myerscough suffered a first round exit last term and will be hoping that the departure of All-Conference 1st teamer Kyra Smith, who averaged a double-double last year, won’t harm their fight for play-off success. Katie Simpson is also departing the programme after dominating the boards last season with 11rpg.

2018/19 Coach of the Year Mike Bernard will be hoping that Celina Eisenhardt can help soften the loss of Smith and Simpson by building on her solid numbers from last year (12.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 2.5 spg) in a bid to lead Myerscough to the post season once again.

“I’m looking forward to this season and seeing the new faces on the team as we look to improve on the position we finished in last season,” said Bernard.

“This season is going to be a fresh start for everyone,” added Eisenhardt. “Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of team we’ll become and competing with the other top teams in the WEABL.”

Nottingham Academy Wildcats

The Wildcats will hope after a summer of leading the GB U16 girls, Head Coach Kenrick Liburd continues pushing their programme forward in search of a play-off place that eluded them a year ago.

After losing just two players, Nottingham can embrace a core of notable returners, including Most Improved Player Shaniya Rose, Mariam Olawoyin and Rhianna Barrett. With additions that include Maisie Evison, Dejanae Cassonova, Latesha Willis and Becky Mitchell, the Wildcats’ roster has taken shape well during the off-season.

“I’m really excited for the season, we have stepped forward by bringing in a number of strong local players and more importantly, brought in a group with great character that value the opportunity to play basketball alongside their studies,” said Liburd.

“I’m really looking forward to building upon the positives from last season, the team is stronger this year with a number of year 12’s coming through,” added Rose. “I aim to be more of a leader and continue to develop both as a team and individually”

The Sheffield College

As Sheffield College join Derby in embarking on their maiden WEABL season, their young core will be tested throughout the campaign as they see how they fit in with the other teams in the Northern Conference.

GB U16 player Abbey Whitehouse will no doubt be a key figure coming off a summer of European Championship basketball for GB. Alongside Whitehouse, Ava Patchesa and Ella Whitehouse will also be required to lead from the front.

“This will be our first season in the WEABL and we look forward to competing,” said Head Coach Vanessa Ellis. “I’m delighted to be working with the College to support this exciting new team.  We have some very talented young players who are looking forward to showcasing their ability in the WEABL.”

“We’re really excited to be the competing in this year’s WEABL and testing ourselves against some of the top players in the country,” said Patchesa. “We are expecting a tough challenge as we have a small squad but we are working hard and we’ll give everything on the floor.”