It has been a great season for the Westfield Health Hatters finishing with an undefeated record and winning their second trophy of the year as league champs. The Hatters showed their strength very early after adding Olympian Julie Page to the line-up and defeating Leeds Met Carnegie in their first cup game. From then on the Hatters blazed through the league to winning all of theirVCars.co.uk division 1 games as well as their remaining cup games by a margin of 25 points or more. They established themselves as the top team when they beat Loughborough 97-54 who was the second place team in the league at the time on the 1st of December.
No team would actually get within reach of the Hatters on the scoreboard until the National Cup Final where the Hatters faced Team Northumbria. After more than a month off due to Christmas break and snow cancellations, the two teams, who had yet to see each other in the regular season, matched up at Ponds Forge for a tough game. Team Northumbria got off to a very good start against the Hatters, but in the third quarter, led by the veteran Steph Gandy, the Hatters would assert themselves and go on to win by 12.
After the winning the Cup, the Hatters set their sights on the league championship that they lost last year due to a technicality. Behind stellar play from Gandy, Page and the Hatters leading scorer Helen Naylor mixed with a disciplined team defence, the Hatters went on to win their remaining games finishing the season at 17-0.
“It ‘s been a great year so far,” says Coach Vanessa Ellis, “It’s special to win the league and even more so to win it unbeaten. We are going into the final fours with confidence and determination to win, achieve the treble, and remain undefeated.”
Helen Naylor finished 1st in the league in scoring with 22.17ppg, Gandy was 4th (18.33) and Page 8th (17.18).
Page would finish 9th in the league in rebounds with 7.91rpg.
Helen Naylor ended the season 4th in assists (3.75) and Page finished 8th (3.01).
This years Final Fours in Manchester will see some new faces. The Hatters will play Loughborough Riders who finished fourth in the league at 12:00pm and Nottingham Wildcats (2nd) will face Barking Abbey (3rd) at 2:00pm.
The Hatters still remain the strongest team in the finals. Loughborough will be a young team coming in for their first division 1 final four game. The Hatters defeated Loughborough three times this season, once in the cup and twice in the regular season. Nottingham Wildcats got off to a rough start on the season but quickly turned it around after adding their import players. They have a very strong match up against Barking Abbey who have also gone through a few player changes mid-season.
The only team to enter the finals that did not win their last regular season game would be Loughborough after losing in overtime to Barking Abbey for 3rd place.
The Hatters biggest strength will be their team defence and their ability to remain poised and under pressure. The Hatters are also very strong offensively. It will be difficult to keep the Hatters top 3 scorers quiet, but even so, they will still have to work to stop Co-Captain Sarah Naylor, Gb player Guard Lauren Thomas-Johnson and veteran Naomi Campbell who continue to make impacts on the outcomes of games. The Hatters also have a strong bench in guard Ellis Clayton and rookie Hailey Purcell who will both see a good amount of minutes in the upcoming finals.
The semi-final against Loughborough will take place Saturday, 27 April at 12:00pm at Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester and the final, Sunday, 28th April at 1:15pm
Come out to show your support for the Hatters!