Wild celebration

Hatter skipper Katie Crowley, coach Vanessa Ellis and MVP award winner Lisa Hutchinson
Hatter skipper Katie Crowley, coach Vanessa Ellis and MVP award winner Lisa Hutchinson

It wasn’t so much a National Cup Final more an anti-climax for the newly-named Health365 Hatters.

Not that the city’s all-conquering team had reason to be disappointed, far from it. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Hatters did just that and in some style as they disposed of Nottingham Wildcats 87-55 in their trophy showdown at Ponds Forge.

On paper it looked a tough test but the threat never materialised as skipper Katie Crowley and Co. retained the trophy. to get the club’s 50 Anniversary celebrations off to a winning start.

Katie admitted it was rather an anti-climax: “It was very close in our recent league match and we expected something similar in the Final but it never materialised.

“They never really caused us problems but that’s not to take anything away from us as everyone was on top of their game in what was a excellent team performance. “We couldn’t have asked for a better start to our 50th Anniversary year.”

Hatters defeated Wildcats in last year’s final but it was a much closer affair. This time, after a nervy start, the Sheffield side took the first quarter 23-12 and although their rivals closed the gap to six within the first few minutes of the second session, a string of missed shots allowed Hatters to reclaim the initiative.

Successful free throws and quick two point shots saw both Stephanie Gandy and Crowley increase their personal tallies and also enabled their team to take a firm stranglehold on the game as they opened up a commanding 47-27 half-time lead.

The third quarter was a close affair with the Hatters taking it by one point but the outcome was never in doubt as they closed out the final action 24-13 to take the silverware. Lisa Hutchinson received the MVP award as she very ably demonstrated her all-round ability with 11 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.

“She thoroughly deserved it,” added Katie.

“Her all-round game was superb and it showed that it’s not always about the top points scorers.”

Team and scorers: Sarah Naylor 25 points, Helen Naylor 20, Stephanie Gandy 15, Lisa Hutchinson 11, Katie Crowley 10, Sarah Taylor 4, Naomi Campbell 3, Emma Camp 2, Ellyn Carnall and Ashleigh Sumner.

Ironically Hatters host Nottingham in a National Division One clash at All Saints Sports Centre on Saturday (4.30pm) and then face a trip to Team Northumbria 24 hours later.

Wildcats have a point to prove but Hatters would seem to have the edge in the race for the league title.