Basketball: Rocks claim Women’s title after edging Phoenix

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Polonia Phoenix tasted bitter disappointment in losing 53-51 to Glasgow Rocks in their Scottish Women’s League basketball title decider at the Crags Sports Centre, Edinburgh last night.

Ahead by 37-29 at the end of the third quarter, Phoenix went four behind with three minutes left of the much higher scoring fourth and final ten minutes. But successive baskets from the Paxton sisters, Claire and Seona, and another from Emilia Rossi, whose outside shooting was excellent, put the home side within two points, only for Rona Corkindale to seal it for the Rocks from the free throw line with 2.2 seconds left.

Not even a despairing chuck from halfway by Cathy Mitchell which drew three fouls could pull them back.

It was an exciting finish to what had been a dour struggle especially in the first half – the score was only 10-6 to Phoenix after the first quarter and Rocks did not score for the first five and a half minutes.

Rossi scored 15 and Cathy Mitchell ten for Phoenix and, for Rocks, Rona Pinkerton 15, Siobhan Moore 13, Ailidh Hood nine and Mairi McNeill eight.

“Sometimes you just have to win ugly,” said Rocks player-coach Shirley Birch.

“Despite being made to play through in Edinburgh on a Thursday evening we managed to put that on one side and get the win.

“We managed to apply enough pressure when we changed to a trapping press and eventually edged ahead in the crucial final minutes.”

All Phoenix captain Julie Ritchie could say was: “We’re gutted.”

Phoenix have now one game left of the regular season, Sunday’s derby with Edinburgh Kool Kats at Wester Hailes EC (3pm) which, provided Rocks roll over Falkirk Fury as expected in their final game at Cumbernauld, can only confer the Capital bragging rights and second place in the league.

The clubs also clash in the junior women’s league when Polonia host Kats at WHEC tomorrow (1pm) and, at the same time on Sunday, the Polonia cadettes play Kats before the senior game at WHEC.