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Wolves star for Herts in U-17 victory

Wolves provided nine of the players as Herts U-17 girls made it third time lucky by winning the East Region U-17 Tournament at University of East Anglian on Sunday.

Herts had lost both the 2022 and 2023 finals to Suffolk but victories against Essex and Norfolk gave then the title.

With only three of the six eligible counties entering a team, Essex defeated hosts Norfolk by four points in the opening game before Herts faced Essex in game two.

Captain Caitlin Ryan hit the first basket of the game and poured in 14 points as Herts led 27-9 at the first break. Essex were unable to make any inroads into that lead, and when the starters left the game with 1 minute and 18 seconds of the eight minute fourth period gone victory looked sewn up. However a 10-0 run saw the captain return for the final two minutes to help Herts complete the 61-52 victory.

Ryan finished with a massive 26 point, 20 rebound double-double, adding four steals with as many assists and blocks. Lily Harkness and Tiff Mitchell-Tyson - who along with Ryan were playing in their third straight tournament having also helped Herts win the 2022 U-15 title - each added 11 points and three rebounds, with Harkness collecting four steals and Mitchell-Tyson three.

With only a short break before facing hosts Norfolk, Herts struggled in the early stages but Ryan scored the first 12 points as her team took a 13-9 lead into the first break, and despite several players struggling with foul trouble, they never looked back. The starters left the game with six minutes remaining before Ryan returned for the final two minutes of her Herts career to help up wrap up a 64-32 victory 

In her last game as a U-17 Ryan had 33 points - outscoring the opposition team - 12 boards and seven steals. Maliya Lawal had an excellent game with 15 points and six assists while Paris Mitchell-Tyson added seven points, five rebounds and four steals.

Ryan was named tournament Most Valuable Player with Tiff Mitchell-Tyson was part of the all-star five. Harkness, Ryan, Lawal and the Mitchell-Tyson sisters are all expected to line-up for Wolves Elite Academy Basketball League team next season.

Wolves also had six players in the boys' U-17 team at the same venue, but it proved to be a bitter-sweet day for the Herts team. They lost 28-27 against Bedfordshire in the first game as their opponents scored a buzzer-beating basket to win the game. They they somehow repeated the scoreline against Suffolk despite again having the ball with ten seconds on the clock, but did get some consolation by beating Cambridgeshire 32-30 in the fifth place game.

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