Saturday, at the Hatters home gym, All Saints, the Hatters faced their toughest battle so far this season when they hosted the Nottingham Wildcats. After winning the tap, the Wildcats were not able to get a basket as the Hatters raced down the court, getting the ball to Sarah Cooney who would score the first 3 points of the game. The Wildcats would answer back scoring two points, but the Cooney’s sister Helen Naylor would come down and score another 3 to put the Hatters ahead 6-2. The first quarter would consists of the two teams trading baskets with the Hatters leading 14-12 going into the second.
The Wildcats would come out ahead during the second as the Hatters began to make a lot of errors, turning the ball over numerous times. While the Wildcats were not able to get a commanding lead, the Hatters struggled to maintain their composure for a bit in the second. Wildcats would earn a hard fought lead at the half but only by 3 points as the score was 31-34 at half time.
The third quarter was no different from the first two with both teams battling to gain the lead. In the absence of Julie Page, Naylor had a big defensive game against the Wildcats new 6’2 center Peklova. Her defensive efforts along with a strong offense from Lauren Thomas-Johnson and Steph Gandy would also help to raise the intensity level for the Hatters. At the end of the third the game was tied 47-47.
“We have to dig deep now, we can’t let the physical play make us lose our composure,” said Coach Ellis at the end of the third.
In the fourth and final quarter, the Hatters were able to gain a significant lead and keep it. Thomas-Johnson stepped up to score 6 points in a row followed by back to back three point plays from Gandy and Thomas Johnson and the Hatters would finish very strong for a well deserved win over the Wildcats 77-65.
“It was a hard fought game, they played really well but today we showed once again how much of a team we are and how bad we want to win. I am very proud of the effort we made,” Coach Ellis said after the game.
Overall the Hatters are still undefeated with a record of 11-0 and in league play, 8-0. After comfortably winning all their games in the first half of the season, the Hatters have faced to really tough games this past two weekends but have also been ready to meet the challenge.
High scorers were Thomas-Johnson and Steph Gandy both with 21 and Helen Naylor with 17.
The team returns to the floor on Saturday away at Leeds Carnegie.