It’s advantage Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters going into next weekend’s WBBL Trophy Final after Vanessa Ellis’ side beat Nottingham Wildcats to win the Betty Codona Classic on Sunday.
Hatters hosted the three-day event, which honours their club founder and coaching stalwart Betty Codona MBE, and faced the winners of last year’s inaugural competition in the final.
Wildcats beat Sevenoaks Suns and then Barking Abbey Crusaders on their way to the championship game, which paired them with Hatters.
The Sheffield club fended off Leicester Riders and Cardiff Met Archers to set-up a dress rehearsal for the WBBL’s first showpiece final at Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on Sunday.
The hosts triumphed 79-73 in an enthralling contest, thanks to some telling contributions from Lisa Hutchinson.
The playmaker drove her team on in the final period, adding key scores on her way to 16 points as team-mate Steph Gandy finished with a 26-point, 11-rebound double-double and Hatters came from behind to claim the title.
Carmen Reynolds paced Wildcats with 26 points and 10 rebounds of her own, but it was not enough to prevent Hatters avenging their only WBBL Championship defeat of the season so far.
“It was a great advert for women’s basketball and the WBBL,” said Hatters coach Ellis.
“It was an exciting game and we do it all again next week in the WBBL Trophy Final and it is going to be another great game.
“We’re happy to have got the win and credit to Lisa Hutchinson who changed the game with her experience and that was really vital for us.
“It’s a great day for Hatters to win the tournament on our own floor against a very strong team in the Wildcats.”
The eight-team tournament was hailed as a huge success by all involved, and Codona herself paid tribute to the efforts of those off, as well as on the court.
Codona said: “It ended on a high and that was important for the tournament which was built around the hard work of everyone involved and especially those volunteers who gave up precious time to help.
“Once again the WBBL family came together with all the coaches, players and staff of every club being supportive and showing just how good women’s basketball can be in so many different aspects.”
Cardiff Met Archers also showed how good they are with a 71-49 success against Sevenoaks Suns in the competition’s Plate Final.
Four players scored in double figures for the Welsh side, led by Kate Butters, as Archers gained the psychological edge ahead of the teams’ meeting in the National Cup Final on Sunday 25 January.