IT's been an indifferent season for Ayr Storm's Senior Women side.
Head coach Lynsey Muir has been working with the youngest squad she's had during her three years in charge. Taking herself and assistant coach, Laura Nisbet, aside, the oldest player is a mere 18 years old.
However, the youngsters haven't shied away from competing in the Strathclyde Senior League and Cup competitions, and have been recognised as one of the most improved teams in the league by opposition coaches.
Captain of the team is Auchinleck Academy's Rebecca Morrison, who finished second in the league top scorer's table with a game average of 19.7 points. Coach Muir said: "This is a remarkable achievement for a 17-year-old playing in a Senior league,"
In stark contrast to Storm's league form, their Cup run has energised the team, with two big away wins in the quarter and semi-finals that saw the squad reach their first ever finalThe final at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley, did see them go in as massive underdogs against league champions Glasgow Fever.
Kyle Academy's Erin Jones got the game off to a good start with a lay-up and extra point to give Ayr an early lead. However, the strength of the league's top scorer, Rachel Simpson and Roseanne Barr, was hard to handle under the basket, and Fever opened up a 22-8 first quarter lead.
The second quarter gave a snapshot of what the Ayr youngsters are all about.
Some flowing fast breaks were very pleasing on the eye and got the travelling Storm Chasers on their feet.
It was Morrison though, who took centre stage, her 13 second quarter points, including a three-pointer, rejuvenated her team.
Guard Davee Sang showed the skill and attacking flair that she is renowned for, and scored four of her own points, which helped narrow the Fever lead to five. It was a two pointer from Fever captain Suzie Burns on the half time buzzer, that gave Fever a 34-27 advantage at the interval. Worryingly for Ayr, both Fallon Casey and Georgia Gabriel picked up hand injuries in the first half and had to be temporarily withdrawn from action. Casey as always had been solid on defence and Gabriel's scoring threat was causing problems to the favourites defence. Both managed to return later in the game.
Unfortunately the second quarter performance was as good as it got for Ayr as the more experienced Glasgow team turned the screw and showed why they were crowned league champions. Despite a game-high 19 points from Morrison, Julie Duff's MVP performance saw Fever control the second half in large parts, but credit has to be given to the youngsters from the west coast as they stuck to their task and kept trying to the final buzzer. U16 players, Petra Kurcikova and Abbie Middleton, scored the final two baskets for their team, and a special mention to Eve Meechan, who had the unenviable task of fighting under the basket against the powerful opposition centres. Final score: 71-38.
After the game Coach Muir said: "We continue to grow as a team, and that's thanks to all the girls effort and commitment. I'm proud we've just competed in our first ever Cup final and shown what we can do."