A depleted Southend Swifts under 16 girls team fell to defeat in the National Cup final despite an outstanding performance that threatened to defy all odds. With four of the regular line-up away on school trips, including captain Georgia Powell, the squad with just one year 11 student, astounded the spectators with their resilience and never-say-die attitude.
Trailing 13-4 after six minutes, Southend staged a remarkable recovery that saw them trail just 31-27 at half time. With Katie Bennett a constant offensive threat and Lilly Annim and Eleanor Butt battling for rebounds, the Essex side kept themselves in the contest much to the delight of their supporters.
When Nottingham moved out to a 41-28 lead after four minutes of the 3rd quarter, the game looked over. But with under 14s Anna Trett and Mia Nicholls playing magnificent defence on the Midlanders point guard, forcing her into numerous turnovers, Swifts began their fight back. Seven straight points from Bennett cut the deficit to eight and when Skye Stack made a score from long range plus two further Bennett Scores and it was just a five point game going into the final stanza.
But there was nothing left in the tank, as Wildcats were able to capitalise on Southend’s lack of firepower to take an enthralling contest by the slightly flattering margin 61 points to 47. Bennett led the way with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, whilst Butt and Annim both had 6 points with the latter recording a game high 14 rebounds.
But this was a day of huge pride for the club, who again showed the strength in depth they possess.