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Hatters v Nottingham Wildcats – WBBL Play-off Final

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WBBL Play-off Final
Nottingham Wildcats 69 (20, 39, 61) (Reynolds 19, Kassongo 14, Pressley 10)
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 84 (13, 32, 55) (Naylor 30, Gandy 19, Cooney 13)

Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters ended the inaugural WBBL season with a clean sweep of silverware after overpowering Nottingham Wildcats 84-69 in the Play-off Final in Worcester on Sunday.

Vanessa Ellis’ side had already beaten the Nottingham club in January’s WBBL Trophy Final and emerged victorious from their WBBL Championship final-day decider earlier in April.

But while Steph Gandy had been the hero in those games, Helen Naylor produced an MVP performance on this occasion, going for 30 points as Hatters held off a spirited Wildcats, who were led by 19 points from Carmen Reynolds.

After trailing for much of the contest, Dave Greenaway’s side moved in front late in the third quarter, only for Hatters to respond with a pair of quick-fire baskets either side of the quarter break to regain control and cruise through the closing stages.

This followed an untidy opening for the league champions, which included three consecutive missed lay-ups and a trio of careless turnovers before Ellis’ side began to find their rhythm behind the scoring of Naylor.

Wildcats responded by looking inside to Annie Kassongo, but a second early triple from Naylor extended the lead.

Fast hands and enthusiastic defence from Hatters continued to disrupt Greenaway’s side’s offence into the second period.

This allowed Hatters to dictate the pace and build their lead, Naylor always available in the post, taking her tally to 18 points at half-time with the league champions leading 39-32.

Wildcats appeared reinvigorated after the break and a Reynolds triple soon pulled her team back within two points.

Greenaway’s side grew in belief as a result and although Hatters instantly hit back almost, the difference remained just a single score.

Then, with league MVP Gandy off the floor following a blow to the face, Reynolds completed an and-one play to tie things up for the first time since the opening exchanges before Chantelle Pressley pushed her team in front.

But back-to-back baskets from Georgia Gayle to close the quarter restored the lead to six.

A fast start to the fourth quarter behind Sarah Cooney’s and-one meant Hatters were back into a 12-point lead with eight minutes to play.

And as Wildcats wasted offences, Hatters added to their lead Gandy finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while Greenaway’s side were hamstrung by 20 turnovers.

Match Report Courtesy of the WBBL

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