There is a reason why the City of Sheffield Hatters are the most successful basketball team in England. Teamwork.
After winning their 16th National Cup Final since 1990 with a 67-55 win over Team Northumbria at Ponds Forge on Sunday, the Hatters continue the battle to get better.
The Hatters last game this season was on the 16 of December. Coming into January, one game had been postponed and the next two were cancelled due to snow. It was apparent early on that the Hatters hadn’t quite got their legs under them yet. They trailed the first quarter and struggled to put the ball in the hoop, while Team Northumbria was able to get some early baskets and make some big shots. Team Northumbria would take the lead at the end of the first quarter by 4, also holding the Hatters to one of their lowest scoring quarters this season.
This was enough to get Hatters co-captain Steph Gandy fired up. The Hatters, led by Gandy’s 18 point MVP performance began to get back into their usual mode of play. At 4:49 left in the second quarter the teams were tied at 25 before co-captain Sarah Cooney scored a 3 to give the Hatters the lead. From that point in the game, the Hatters remained in front, and never looked back.
Even though it was not the best shooting performance for the Hatters, they shot 34% from the field, they were able to keep the lead by turning up the defense and the team work. Helen Naylor also came alive in the second half to give the Hatters the added spark they needed to really push past their slow start. She would end the game with 14 points.
Lauren Thomas-Johnson would provide much needed defensive and offensive play for the Hatters shooting 5 for 5 from the free throw line and adding 2 threes to finish the game as second leading scorer with 17 points. Four Hatters players would finish in double figures.
While Northumbria shot slightly better than the Hatters from the field, The Hatters defense forced 21 Northumbria turnovers. The Hatters only turned the ball over 9 times.
Steph Gandy would take home the MVP award at the finish with 18 points, 6 rebounds and 5 steals. I am ecstatic to win the Most Valuable Player again.’ She explained ‘the game was challenging especially due not playing a game since the beginning of December. However due to hard work and determination we improved throughout the game to ensure we won.’
Coach Ellis stated ‘I am really pleased with the win – the 5th Cup final in a row. We didn’t have our best performance – 6 weeks since our last game really showed but the team dug deep , pulled together and did enough to win.’
Ta’Yani Clark had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Northumbria and Zoe Vickers shot 5 for 7 from deep on her way to 17 points.
The Hatters will look to continue their undefeated season Saturday against the Nottingham Wildcats.