Unbeaten, unbreakable, London Lions completed the WBBL clean sweep in style but also grit.

70-45 victors over Sevenoaks Suns in the WBBL Playoff final, it completed a 34-0 domestic campaign for Mark Clark’s side – the first to capture every prize since four pieces of silverware became available.

The last piece in this illustrious jigsaw was hard won but collected in familiar fashion: individual talent – illustrated by the MVP performance of Kennedy Leonard – but also a defensive resilience that was never more evident that when Sevenoaks surged into a 12-7 lead at the close of the opening period.

A shock coming? They never believed it.

An 18-2 run restored the expected order and although Janice Monakana – who led her side with 13 points in the last game of a career surely closed too soon – capped a burst of nine unanswered points that asked a question, the answer was an acceleration either side of half-time that ultimately dimmed the Suns’ light.

Second best as they have been all year. Everyone must bow to London. No disgrace, given the quality of their play.

“It’s the end of a really long season,” said Clark. “The beginning of the game was difficult, we struggled a little bit offensively in the first quarter. The thing that sets ourselves apart is everybody holds everyone to account and accountability is a very key word for us.

“We spent a lot of time without the basketball, our team really didn’t give them room to get off shots and we kept them deep on the shot clock, in the end that was really decisive for us this afternoon.

“The feeling for me is satisfaction , you set your stall out at the start of the season to be successful not just in the WBBL but trying to make sure a team from the WBBL can really compete in Europe, so my feeling right now is a real feeling of satisfaction.”

With the league, Cup and Trophy winners invited to a duel, back-to-back threes from Shanice Beckford-Norton – who scored a game-high 15 points – gave Lions a first lead at 13-12 after missing 19 of their first 23 shot attempts.

The acceleration was swift, orchestrated by Leonard, forced to play with a face mask following a freak broken nose sustained in practice on Thursday.

Down 30-25 at half-time, Sevenoaks adjusted and flung physicality and the evergreen talent of Cat Carr, another who – like Leedham – will wait until the off-season before making a firm decision on whether to continue her career.

Yet the Lions, you sensed, could match like for like and then find a little more.

Holding their rivals without a field goal for over five minutes in the third as Leedham found her range, surges kept coming and a 18-0 start to the fourth was one too many.

It was ignited by Leonard, who hit a trio of threes in a personal blitz of eleven consecutive points in two minutes and 27 seconds towards a final tally of 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Game over, bar the confetti.

Quadruple secured, with Azania Stewart grabbing a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds.

And if this was indeed the farewell of Leedham’s magnificent career that has included adjusting to life as a mother, then her baby daughter Isla, watching on, unknowingly witnessed something quite special.

She hugged her every one of her team-mates as she went to the bench with 63 seconds left. The crowd offered an embrace too.


Lions, to all else on home soil, exerted a stranglehold.

Ruthless, and historically effective.

Game Stats


Images: Mansoor Ahmed

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