It’s Hatters at the double

Champions Health365 Hatters went into the weekend’s two home games with little at stake other than preserving an unbeaten home record.

For coach Vanessa Ellis, it was also an opportunity to use the fixtures in preparation for the Final Fours weekend later this month.

And it was to be another excellent weekend as the Hatters outclassed Team Northumbria 92-63 on Saturday and then ended the regular season with a 95-74 victory over bottom of the table Brixton Topcats a day later.

A slow start against Northumbria saw Hatters lead 20-19 at the end of the first quarter before upping their defensive intensity to take a 46-35 advantage into the second half.

Stephanie Gandy (37 points) began to impose her authority after the break as she cut into the key and drove the ball into the lane, often drawing contact. Her contribution put the home side firmly in control.

By the three quarter mark, Hatters had opened a 19 point lead (69-50) and they continued to have the momentum as they gradually pulled further and further away in the final quarter, scoring 23 points in the process.

On Sunday at All Saints the Hatters overcame an athletic and energetic Topcats team with a solid team effort.

Leading 48-32 at half time the Hatters had their advantage trimmed by one in the third quarter. But despite the visitors efforts, Sheffield didn’t let up, raising their game once more to pull away in the fourth quarter.

Sarah Naylor drained several threes and Gandy, Lee and Campbell put pressure on the boards to give the home side further opportunities to score.

Hatters now go into the final four play-offs next weekend (April 16-17) as number one seeds. They play Leeds Carnegie in the semi-final, with either UWIC Archers or Nottingham Wildcats potentially waiting in the final.