HAMBURG, GERMANY- In a rematch of the semifinals at the 2016 Rio Paralympics, Team USA and Great Britain fought like prizefighters to reach the semifinals of the IWBF World Championships. This year’s teams look much different than their 2016 counterparts, and so were the results
The British used a stingy, 40-minute full court press to smother the U.S. en route to a 70 - 47 quarterfinals victory. They’ll go on to face the winner of the Netherlands/France matchup in the semifinal round.
Rose Hollermann of Elysian, Minnesota managed to score 23 points in 40 minutes, but the Americans turned the ball over 17 times while trying to solve Great Britain’s press.
“[Great Britain]’s always been known for their defense,” Hollermann said. “They’ve been a young team in the past, and have been together for a really long time. Throughout the years we’ve seen their defense improve and get better and better and better.”
The game shaped up to be a tough defensive match from the tip. Great Britain immediately jumped into their full court press, forming a flat line and taking away picking angles. The U.S. collapsed into the paint, forcing the British to reluctantly take outside shots.
Great Britain's Joy Haizelden and Helen Freeman found creative ways to score inside in the first quarter, asssting one another on cuts using an efficient two-man game. Morgan Wood of Gordonsville, Tennessee ran Team USA’s offense from the elbow and paced the team’s scoring early on. Logging another 40-minute game, Wood finished with 15 points, five rebounds, 5 assists, and her sights set on the next matchup.
“I’m a little tired, been tired all week, but I’m ready to go,” Wood said. “One more game, or two, I’m ready to play.”
Hollermann put on her best Lebron James impression in the second quarter, scoring or assisting on all 13 of her team’s points. The U.S. broke the press a few times, scoring quick layups before the Brits could get get back on defense. Still, the British forced the young U.S. into committing fundamental errors, including a number of eight-second and backcourt violations. Freeman traded buckets with Hollerman throughout, matching the American’s output with 23 points of her own.
The U.S. did everything it could to execute against Great Britain’s scheme for the first three quarters. U.S women's head coach Trooper Johnson of San Lorenzo, California, snuffed out a few rallies with smart timeouts, and Hollermann shot an efficient 64 percent against the stonewall British defense. But after the game entered the fourth quarter still somewhat competitive, the Brits kept the U.S. from setting up shots and outscored them 20-9 in that final period.
“[This loss] really showed how inexperienced some of these kids are and were overwhelmed with the situation,” Johnson said. “The thing really struck me is they worked really, really hard, they just made some bad decisions on the court.”
With this loss, the U.S. record drops to 3-3. They’ll face a either Germany or Spain in the 5-7 placement games on Friday at 11:45 AM Eastern. Great Britain advances as the only country with their men’s and women’s teams still in the tourney.
Though they will not see a podium finish in competition, Johnson maintains the U.S. has their sights on the ultimate goal.
“One thing that we have stated since 2017, is the fact that we have a four-year plan,” Johnson said. “ Our game plan was to get the team back on the podium in Tokyo. And it’s one step in the process.”
Joining NWBA Hall of Famer Johnson on the sideline are his assistant coaches Amy Spangler of Madison Wisconsin, and Adam Kramer of Northport, Alabama. Kearstin Gehlhausen of Denver, Colorado serves as the Team Leader, with Karla Franconi of Lexington, Kentucky, filling the athletic trainer position.
The U.S. had returned home with a medal from every World Championships, except for the 2014 World Championships, since its inception in 1990, accumulating two gold medals and four silver medals. USA played for the gold medal in six of the last seven IWBF World Championships.
2018 IWBF World Championships
August 16 - 26, 2018
2018 IWBF World Championships Results
USA def. Algeria, 75-38 (1-0)
Germany def. USA, 70-54 (1-1)
China def. USA, 74 - 43 (1-2)
USA def. France, 57-25 (2-2)
USA def. Argentina, 66-30 (3-2)
Quarterfinals: Great Britain def. USA, 70-47 (3-3)
U.S. Women’s Schedule for 2018 IWBF World Championships
8/17 vs Algeria 11:30 AM (Eastern/New York)
8/19 vs Germany 6:45 AM
8/20 vs China 12:00 PM
8/21 vs France 10:15 AM
8/22 vs Argentina 4:00 AM
8/23 Quarterfinals, vs Great Britain, 12:00 PM
8/24 Placement Game, vs Spain/Germany, 11:45 PM
The U.S. women (3-2) enter the quarterfinals of the IWBF Championships against Great Britain (4-1) today at 8:00 AM, EST. Stay here to watch the game, get live stats and post-game recaps!