Hatters close in on title

Hatters Stephanie Gandy attacks the UWIC Archers defence
Hatters Stephanie Gandy attacks the UWIC Archers defence

Put the champagne on ice ... Health365 Hatters have one hand on the Women’s Division One title.

They bagged the points in their crucial clash at arch rivals UWIC Archers and while the 76-62 victory didn’t secure them the National League crown, it will now need them to implode big style if they’re to be denied championship success.

Hatters remain two points clear of Nottingham Wildcats with a match in hand while UWIC trail them by six with the same number of games played. Now a victory against Nottingham on March 26 will seal a fifth straight title for Vanessa Ellis’ team after a strong second half proved key in Cardiff.

Let’s get physical appeared to the order of the day for the Welsh side and with the referees letting a lot of hard fouls go, Hatters took time to settle although they were just four points adrift at the end of the first quarter (18-14).

Archers extended their advantage to 12 but slowly the Sheffield side bridged the gap and Stephanie Gandy’s big three pointer helped push them to within three points of their rivals at half-time (37-34).

Inspired by Helen Naylor, Hatters turned the match around after the break. They outscored the hosts 18-7 in a pivotal third period to lead 52-44 and wrapped up their 16th win in 17 games with a 24-18 final quarter.

Top scorers: Stephanie Gandy 27, Helen Naylor 16, Sarah Naylor 10.

City of Sheffield Hatters II ended their Division Two North season on a high with a nailbiting 73-70 victory at Mansfield Giants ... their fourth win out of their last five. They led 43-29 at half time but this was cut to eight going into the final quarter. The home side closed that to within a point but three 3 points from Katy Taylor, making seven in all, helped them hold out in a thrilling finale. Top scorers: Lindsay 23, Taylor 22, Carrick and Clayton 9.

Hatters Yorkshire League team dipped 47-30 against TASC. Team and scorers: Ann Jamieson 10, Ellyn Carnall 6, Lucy Graham 5, Ann Zammit 4, Rhyanna Bunnis 2, Kim Ashmore 2, Mel Axelby 1 and Shannon Schneider.

The Under-16s play off hopes were damaged when they suffered a 71-67 defeat at Stockport Lapwings, the team just above them in the National North table.

Team and scorers: Naz Saghafian 22, Courtney Shaw 11, Mairead Faulkner 8, Jess Dooley 6, Isobel Hannity 6, Abbie Simpson 6, Serena Sampson 6, and Zuiko Kafamba

Hatters Under-14s won their final two league games to secure a 100 per cent record and top spot in the Midlands North Conference. Hatters beat Northants Lightning 48-34 and Newcastle Eagles 66-20 and will now start the play offs with a home tie.