Essex Rebels Make History Advancing to Their First Ever Final
In a thrilling encounter on Saturday afternoon, Essex Rebels came victorious against Manchester Giants, securing a spot in the Women’s British Basketball League Trophy Final with an 80-70 win. The Rebels’ early lead, along with a strong defensive effort down the stretch, proved decisive in the outcome of the game.
The match showcased an exciting battle between the two American imports, Tyra Whitehead (Essex Rebels) and Sydney Hunter (Manchester Giants) both delivering standout performances off the bench. Whitehead’s remarkable double-double of 19 points and 18 rebounds, along 7 assists, played a pivotal role in keeping the Rebels in front. On the other side, Hunter’s impressive 23 points and 17 rebounds displayed her determination to rally the Giants.
The opening minutes saw a scrappy start from both teams, with turnovers and missed opportunities. Kat Tudor got the first bucket after nearly three minutes of play, setting the tone for her team’s dominance. The Rebels capitalized on three-pointers, with Claire Paxton and Renee Busch contributing to a 21-11 lead after the first quarter.
The second quarter saw a comeback from the Giants, with Hunter’s introduction sparking a 10-3 run. Despite the Giants’ efforts to narrow the gap, Essex maintained a 39-34 lead at halftime.
The intensity continued in the second half, with both teams fighting for control. McAlear-Fanus and Hunter led the charge for Manchester, but Whitehead’s double-double and Dayzsha Rogan’s crucial scores ensured the Rebels stayed ahead.
During the final quarter, the Rebels extended their lead to 63-55, despite a late surge from the Giants. Tyra Whitehead’s exceptional performance, including key free throws, secured an 80-70 victory for the Rebels.
Tyra Whitehead was undoubtedly the player of the game, contributing an impressive stat line of 19 points, 18 rebounds, and 7 assists. Her all-around performance played a crucial role in securing the victory for the Essex Rebels.
With this historic win, the Rebels have booked their place into the Trophy Final, where they will face the London Lions.
The Rebels Head Coach, Ashley Cookson said: “We are happy to get through a tough opponent in Manchester, earning our spot in the final. I’m proud of this team’s achievement making a Women’s British Basketball final for the first time in Essex Rebels history. We knew from day one we have the talent in the building to make it to every game available to play in, so now we need to bring our A game on a national stage.”
Furthermore, he added, “London are the obvious favourite with investment made in their team and winning at the Eurocup level, but I’m a sucker for an underdog story and we embrace the challenge on Sunday.”