Head coach Bart Sengers has been evaluating Caledonia Pride’s second season in the Women’s British Basketball League and explaining what the future might hold for the cash-strapped Edinburgh club.
Pride ended their 2017-18 campaign with a gallant 71-61 defeat at Leicester Riders in the quarter-finals of the WBBL Play-Offs.
Pride made the top eight for the first time by beating Durham the previous weekend to finish seventh in the league, but runners-up Leicester were hot favourites. The WBBL Trophy winners had lost two games all season and trounced Caledonia by 22 points on their last visit to the Midlands in October.
On this occasion, Pride were undone by Dee Hayward and Erin McGarrachan, who they signed last summer, only for the Scotland duo to change their mind just days later.
Both came back to haunt them on Sunday as Hayward’s 17 points and 13 from McGarrachan saw Riders through to the semis, although it was a nervy finish after Pride came from 40-24 down to draw level through Tricia Oakes at 56-56. It was still a four-point game with two minutes left, but Hayward’s three-pointer proved decisive. American Rosie Reynolds was Caledonia’s top scorer with 19, while captain Robyn Lewis also made it into double figures and added 11 rebounds.
“We got all the way back to 56-all, but we just fell short in the end,” shrugged Sengers. “If only Dee and Erin had been on our team!”
Pride clearly progressed last season, reaching the WBBL Cup Final and winning 11 matches compared to just five in their debut campaign. They also lost four games by three points or less.
“It was an eventful season,” agreed Sengers. “We improved, but it could have been even better. We lost games we should have won, but we had too many changes in the team and staff during the season. Finishing seventh was the best we could do after losing too many games in the first part of the season. Overall, we can be OK with the result, while knowing we had a chance to be better as well.”
Widely-publicised financial cuts may weaken his squad next season, but Sengers admitted: “We don’t know yet. We’ve had several meetings and will continue to do so to get clarity on the budgets and goals. After that we can decide who we want on the team.”