After being forced to play in a mask while winning the WBBL Play-off Most Valuable Player award, Kennedy Leonard was clearly delighted that her side swept the board this season.
Leonard suffered a broken nose and deviated septum in training on Thursday, but that didn’t stop her finishing with 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds to lead Lions to a 70-45 victory against Sevenoaks Suns.
speaking on having to play with a mash she said
“It was fine playing with the mask, it’s just a bit annoying when you get sweaty, but it enabled me to make the decision to play today"
She went on to add
“Mark [Clark] drove 12 hours yesterday to get a face mask so I could play today, if you have a head coach who will do that for you, you get out there to play. It was alright and got the job done. We were joking after the game that Leah [McDerment] should break my nose more often, so I had to I had to wear a mask but I don’t think I’d like to wear it again. I’ll go back to the States on Monday, get some surgery to repair it and not do any contact [basketball] for a while.
Leonard echoed her coach’s comments about the key part Jo Leedham has played in her side’s success this season: “It starts with Jo” he said.
“Every time you play with Jo is just great. I told her after the game that it’s the greatest honour of my career thus far to play with her. The level that she plays at, and what she brings to the table is something you only get a few times in life if you get, so I think for me it starts and ends with Jo. I think Mark [Clark] and other teams would agree with that.”
Scottish international Leonard admitted that her role on the team had changed this season:
“I’d like to say I’ve matured a bit playing with Jo and Zee [Azania Stewart] makes you automatically become a better player and forces you to give more of yourself for the team. Last year me, Cassie [Breen] and Shanice [Beckford-Norton] were the go-to players but this year it wasn’t necessarily taking a back seat but I had to take some of myself away for the team to be successful. I’m a better team-mate.
After winning all four WBBL trophies and going unbeaten domestically, Leonard acknowledged that her team had set themselves a high bar for future seasons:
“I think it’s a fine line between being complacent and then chasing more trophies.. Anything less than four would be a disappointment but at the same time you can’t base everything on those four trophies. We just need to maintain being a really good team and playing at a high level. Then the trophies will come.”