BASKETBALL: ELLESMERE Port Panthers bagged a brace of national cups at the Amaechi Centre in Manchester on Sunday and in doing so wrote their names into the record books to great acclaim.
They became the first club to win the Sure Shot Cadet Women's Cup for three years running and retain the Sure Shot Junior Women's Cup.
Panthers edged out Manchester Mystics 79-74 in the cadet (U16s) final, a game that was closer than the score suggests. With Panthers building up a commanding lead of 22 points (64-42) going into the final quarter, coach Jim McGinn introduced his bench players.
Panthers survived an incredible comeback from their feisty Mancunian hosts with top scorer Johannah Leedham bagging the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.
McGinn said: 'All the girls showed heart and played smart but Manchester hit some desperate shots that went in and made things closer than they should have been.
'I told our players that if a team wants to try and beat us from more than 20 feet out, then let them because more often than not they won't be able to do it.'
Panthers: Johannah Leedham (40); Clark (12); Kirsty Leedham (10); Jones (9); Lee (4); Brice (2); Hughes (2).
Later, Panthers trounced Solent Stars 110-34 in the junior (U18s) final, producing a performance that led one leading basketball commentator to say 'Total basketball is alive and well and living in Ellesmere Port.'
McGinn said: 'The display was the culmination of hard work from a side who have been together for three years and are at the top of their game.
'Four of the girls have been playing senior basketball this season while Kim Jones also started and had a very good game.'
Captain Jennifer Leedham was named MVP. Scorers were: Johannah Leedham (32); Jennifer Leedham (31); Alex Lodge (23); Kim Jones (13); Kirsty Leedham (4); Jennifer Fields (3); Laura Hughes (2); Nicole Clark (2).