Braves I saw more comings and goings this season then ever before, but despite the player rotation they still posted a respectable 8-10 win loss record. This ensured a mid table finish, a big improvement from the season prior where they finished bottom. The highlight win of the season was a big home victory against last year's Div 1 Champions, Empees A (66-49), but even in loss Braves put up some strong performances (losing against this year's Champion, Lockleaze, 82-78) and a tough OT loss against Pirates A. Over the course of the campaign Braves I saw big performances from Carlos Lagurta (16.1 ppg), Jochen Burher (12.4 ppg) and Ierai Villa (who played a team high 20 games scoring 155 points in the process.
With a bit luck / continuity Braves I will hope that this season sets the foundations for continued success in seasons to come.
Unlike Braves I, Braves III managed to keep a lot more continuity then in recent years, with a lot of players still with the club after the 2013 - 2014 campaign and a few key additions (most notably Nick Cooper and Coach George Varney). Braves III started the season with the goal of achieving a 50% win loss record, but ended the season 12-6 - Good enough for third place and (most likely) promotion to Div 2. Highlight wins came against (likely) Div 3 Champions, Swindon Silverbacks (51-48), a double overtime 'must win' fixture versus A&S Police (59-55), an 80-69 win 'bragging rights' win over Braves I in the Trophy and a crazy 118-111 Trophy win against Empees A (in which we had six players and our 5'10" back up guard playing Center for extended minutes). Kye Thomas top scored with 17.2 a game, but solid contributions came from Nick Cooper (11.5 ppg) and Rob Dams whose solid defense cannot be measured by any stats available to me, but his team high 22 played games can (that's all but one).
After the disappointment of missing out on winning the league in the 2013 - 2014 season in controversial circumstances, Braves Women regrouped with Coach Iain Leitch now at the helm. The season started well with three straight wins, but a run of two straight losses coupled with a third in December meant they entered the second half of the season with a 7-3 win loss record, but most importantly, playing catch up to rivals Firestorm and UWE. Furthermore the leading scorer for the first half of the season, Grazia Rovelli, went down with a serious ACL injury in December and was unable to play again. 2015 started acrimoniously, as Braves struggled in the Trophy Competitions (where their new recruits were unable to play), but when the serious business of the League Campaign got underway Braves managed to win every single one of their league games. Highlight of the season was undoubtedly the nail biting 53-44 victory over eventual second place team, Firestorm, in a game where both teams knew the winner would win the league. Big performances came in the first half of the season from Grazia, and in the second half of the season from Pilar Rodriguez-Roman (16.6 ppg), but there were plenty of players who contributed throughout the whole campaign including Regina Hessemann (10.4 ppg) and Heide Busse (9.5 ppg) - our two German girls who also both played a team high 20 games - and Particia Lorenzo, who had a team high 5 MVPs. Having noted these individual achievements, this was a real 'team first' achievement that saw lots of others players contribute big performances with over half of our active players (9 of 17) receiving at least one MVP vote from our opponents. Well done for such a succesful year ladies.
Alongside our Three Local League teams, Braves also host a Central Venue League at Merchants Academy roughly one Sunday each month. This season saw the eight team league expand to ten teams as the popularity of the league grew. The Braves Participation Team came together at the last minute and although the team were out matched by more experienced teams, they not only managed to get a couple of wins (finishing with a 2-6 record after Comets withdrew), but they managed to allow the least amount of points to be scored on them out of all ten teams - A testament to their will and determination to work hard on the defensive end. Joe Rich took a real leadership role and was a threat on both ends of the court, whilst solid contributions also came from Joe Simpson, Mike Dixon and Michael O'Daliegh. The league itself went right down to the wire with the last game, Spaniard Bulls vs South Wales Stallions, deciding the eventual winner. Despite an amazing fightback from the Stallions, who were around 20 down at one point, the Bulls emerged victorious in the end, winning 66-61
The start of the season saw our Third Annual 'Braves International Games' where we had mixed teams representing a variety of countries with Germany winning the title in the end. Braves also managed to achieve a lot of success off court, after being nomitated for the Lloyds Community Fund, the club managed to come second in the Bristol area and were awarded £2,000 which has been re-invested into equipment and training for our club members. Over the course of this season we have had three players pass the Referee's L2 Course and one player pass the L2 Coaching Course (with another two currently taking the course at the time of writing).
See you all next season for more fun on court.