As the race for the WBBL Playoffs nears its conclusion, Nottingham Wildcats came away with back-to-back wins which saw the defeat both the Durham Palatinate and Newcastle Eagles..
Saturday saw the Wildcats’ battle for the last playoff spot begin when Nottingham Wildcats hosted Durham Palatinates with the teams tied at 9-12 for the eighth and final post-season berth, and the Wildcats prevailed 85-77 to put daylight between the two.
The league’s leading scorer, Brooklyn Pannell, poured in a massive 35 points on 12-18 (66%) shooting and 9-10 (90%) at the free-throw line.
Pannell started as she meant to go on, scoring 11 first-quarter points in tight exchanges between the teams, before Kennedy Nicholas finished the period with an ‘and-one’ play to put Wildcats in front as there were seven early lead changes.
The teams continued to trade until the hosts made the decisive run just before the half, breaking a tie with a 12-2 surge in just two minutes as Pannell added six more points to put them up 43-33 at the break.
And the visitors were not allowed back within single-figures as it was Pannell who settled the game, scoring all of the points in another 8-2 burst midway through the third, seeing the lead reach 58-43 as she went through 30 points with just 25 minutes played.
Five different players scored in an 11-0 fourth-quarter run as the lead peaked at 78-55, giving Wildcats enough to see off a late revival as Jahnae Gyles hit a dagger three when Durham got back to within two shots, making it consecutive wins for Nottingham.
Sunday’s action tipped off in Newcastle with Nottingham Wildcats knowing that a win over Newcastle Eagles matched with Durham Palatinates failing to win would secure their role in the Playoffs. A tight first period was followed by a dominant defensive effort in the second, as they held the Eagles to only 12 points.
The Wildcats were dominant on the inside and outrebounded the Eagles 55-29, with Brooklyn Pannell and Praise Egharevba both posting double-doubles as Nottingham pulled out to a comfortable victory.
Pannell finished with a game-high 29 points to go with 11 rebounds, whilst Egharevba racked up an incredible 17 rebounds whilst putting up 12 points.
With one foot in the Playoffs, the Wildcats would turn their attention to the Durham Palatinates versus Manchester Mystics game where the Palatinates saw off the Mystics to keep their playoff dreams alive. Next up for Wildcats are the Essex Rebels where the equation is simple, win and they are in.
Nottingham Wildcats 85-77 Durham Palatinates (20-19, 43-33, 67-50)
(Wildcats – Pannell 35, Gyles 19, Egharevba 7; Palatinates – Elderkin 15, Wayne 15, Lowe 13)
Newcastle Eagles 68-88 Nottingham Wildcats (21-22, 33-44, 45-61)
(Eagles – Fernandez Pardo 25, Mcvicar 24, Cipcic 12; Wildcats – Pannell 29, Gyles 16, Egharevba 12)