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#1 John Madejski Academy 76 -57 #4 The Sheffield College

John Madejski Academy overcame a spirited Sheffield College on Wednesday afternoon in the Elite Eights of the WEABL play-offs behind Sitota Gines’ 20 points.

JMA Head Coach Joan Portero Luque was delighted to see his team advance to the Final Four stage but knows his team need to be better at the defensive end: “I am really happy because we have made it to the Final Four stage and the girls did a good job in parts of the game to ensure we advanced to the last four but our attitude on defensive in some moments was concerning.

“We are playing good defence in the important moments of the game but we must ensure we do that at all times otherwise a team like [our next opponents] CoLA will punish us. Nevertheless, a good win and onto the next round.”

The game started fairly evenly with a number of lead changes in the opening exchanges before JMA opened up a 13-7 advantage midway through the period only to be pegged back by the visitors to Reading as they led 17-16 with two minutes to go in the stanza. 8 missed free throws between the two teams was the story of the final two minutes as Sheffield took the narrowest of leads into the second quarter, up 18-19.

JMA came out of the blocks firing on all cylinders to start the second as a 17-4 run propelled them into a 35-23 advantage with four minutes remaining in the half. A 19-10 quarter in favour of the home team gave the hosts a 37-29 lead at the interval.

It was the home team that started off the second half on the front foot as well, as a 10-0 run in the first five minutes gave the hosts their biggest lead of the game, 47-29. However, the visitors rallied and answered with an 8-0 run for themselves only for JMA to respond again and finish the quarter 57-43 ahead going into the final ten minutes.

The final period was a relatively even affair with JMA seemingly in control of the game despite a late rally by Sheffield who’s never say die attitude kept them in the contest. In the end it proved not to be enough as JMA took their place in the last four with a 76-57 victory.

Supporting Sitota Gines was Jessie Ford with 14 and Gabi Sanchez and Anabel Latorre with 11 a-piece. Ava Patchesa led all scorers in the game for her team with 21 points personal whilst Abbey Whitehouse poured in 20 points and Zoe Katteregga had 6 for Sheffield College.

JMA will now host the City of London Academy in the Final Fours next Wednesday with Copleston and Barking Abbey completing an all Southern conference line up for a place in the WEABL playoff final.