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WEABL Final preview – Nottingham v CoLA

Two teams with perfect records enter, but only one can remain as Nottingham Academy take on City of London Academy for this season’s WEABL playoff title.

Both teams have been dominant in their respective divisions, taking on all comers to not only win, but do so by some impressive margins. 

Going 12-0 to sweep the Southern Conference, CoLA built their success on the stingiest defence in the WEABL. Allowing an average of just 36.4 points per game, the London programme can be ferocious on D, making life hard for any opponent. 

That was also the team’s calling card the last time they won a playoff title in 2016/17, beating Charnwood College Riders in a low-scoring grinder, coming out on top 40-31 to seal their first crown. 

The London programme have since added another title, being named co-champions with Copleston High School during the shortened 2019/20 season when the COVID-19 pandemic ruled out the possibility of completing the campaign. 

It robbed players and fans alike of what would have been a much-anticipated clash between two well matched sides, though a return to action this year and a chance to get back on court is welcomed by all concerned.

After missing the debut season of the WEABL in 2015/16, Nottingham joined the fold a year later and have been a staple ever since. 

Although success proved elusive for the programme’s first three years, a one-win season in 2018/19 was converted to a second-place finish in the Northern conference in 2019/20 and a maiden trip to the playoffs. 

Hosting a game at the Elite Eight stage, Nottingham entertained none other than CoLA, with the visitors leaving with a narrow 54-50 victory. Some players remain from that playoff clash for both teams, adding an extra level to tomorrow’s contest and raising what are already some pretty high stakes. 

As you’d expect from two teams who went unbeaten during the regular season, both these sides were well represented in the WEABL awards process. 

CoLA’s Isi Ozzy-Momodu has enjoyed a standout season and was a unanimous choice for the conference’s MVP award. The talented forward also got the nod as Defensive Player of the Year, whilst coach Jackson Gibbons was also singled out for a fifth Coach of the Year award in the last six seasons for his role in the successful campaign. 

Guard Funmi Amode, like Ozzy-Momodu, received All-Conference First Team honours, with forward Molly Lavin converting her WEABL leading 59.3% True Shooting rating into a second team slot. 

In German national Praise Egharevba, Nottingham has a legitimate match winner. The 6’3” forward led the WEABL in efficiency (29.3), points per game (22.7) and rebounds (16.3), though she did miss time earlier in the season through injury, limiting her opportunities. 

Egharevba collected an All-Conference First Team spot alongside teammate Mariam Olawoyin, though they were Nottingham’s only selections for seasonal honours despite not tasting defeat throughout the regular season. 

Both teams will no doubt be heading to Manchester with dreams of ending their year on a high, but only one will be victorious. Will it be Nottingham, claiming their first ever WEABL title, or CoLA, moving onto a league leading three playoff titles? 

WEABL Final live stats HERE