National glory for Caitlin

Leopards’ water-girl Caitlin Ryan is celebrating after captaining the East Region side to the Girls Under-11 National Championship, on Sunday.

The 10-year-old usually hands out the drinks to the Big Cats’ players, but on Sunday she led her side to five straight wins in he Sheffield tournament to win the competition for the second time in three years.

The Harlow Hawks guard was picked for the tournament after captaining Herts under-11s to silver medal in the East tournament as well as helping her county under-13s win their competition.

An early start at All Saints School saw the East team face South region in what proved to be their toughest group game, but eight points, eight steals, two rebounds and two assists from Caitlin helped them to a 31-22 victory in a game where a 16-7 third period proved key.

The second game proved to be a massacre as East romped to an 84-10 win against West Midlands, Caitlin finishing with 14 points, nine steals, six boards and three assists.

With a place in the semi-final secured, the East coach rested her four starters, and Ryan was able to look on as her side defeated the North-East 63-19.

The competition noticeably intensified in the knockout stage, and East faced a North-West side built around the renowned Manchester Mystics club.

After leading at the first two breaks, East went into the final quarter trailing 26-23 but a stunning fourth period saw some excellent defence help them to a 36-32 victory, Caitlin adding seven steals to her nine points and three rebounds.

If the semi-final was nervy, the final proved to be an absolute heart-stopper as East survived a late rally from South Yorkshire to lift the trophy with a 32-30 win.

After leading 11-8 at half-time, East were pegged back to 17-17 going into the final break but a pair of three point played in the fourth quarter proved crucial.

A clearly tired Caitlin finished with two points, as many rebounds, three steals and a assist as her side became champions.
In total the Leopards’ water-girl finished with 33 points 29 steals, 13 rebounds and six assists, playing two six minute halves in each of four games.