Coach praises team spirit as Mansfield Giants triumph

JO RICHARDS -- player/coach led by example with 20 points.

JO RICHARDS -- player/coach led by example with 20 points.

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Delighted player/coach Jo Richards praised the team spirit in her Mansfield Giants women’s side after leading by example in a 62-55 win over Sefton Starlights.

Giants gained sweet revenge for their defeat at the hands of the Liverpool outfit last season to bag their second victory of the new campaign, leaving them mid-table in Division Two North of the National Women’s Basketball League.

“We set some goals for ourselves at the beginning of the season, and one of them was to turn around the defeat we were dealt by Sefton last season,” said Richards, who top-scored with 20 of her team’s points.

“We stuck to the plan and produced some of the best defence I’ve seen from us so far this season, while also having four players in double figures on the points board.

“There’s a great atmosphere in the team at the moment and it feels good to get things back on track after a tough defeat against the leaders, Team Birmingham Elite, the previous week.”

Early on in the match, which was played at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre, it seemed that Giants had dug themselves a ten-point hole as they fell behind. But Beth ‘Curry’ Wheldon unveiled back-to-back three-pointers and some solid defence by Jo Blakeway pushed Sefton to force up shots. By the half-time break, the scores were level at 27-27.

During the third quarter, Giants’ extra experience began to take hold, with stalwarts Alison Bridge and Richards herself combining for ten points to give their side a 45-40 lead.

All Giants needed to do in the final quarter was keep their composure and run down the clock to minimise Sefton’s scoring opportunities. They did just that and with Gabby Durant joining the list of scorers, the home side closed out the game to claim their win.

As well as Richards and Durant, Giants’ other point-scorers were Wheldon with 12, Charlotte Levitt with 11, Chedelle Cruickshank with ten, Bridge with four and Blakeway with three.

This Saturday (2.15 pm), Giants are at home again, this time against Sheffield Hallam Hatters, who have yet to win this term. This is followed by the visit of University of Nottingham to the Oak Tree Leisure Centre on Saturday, November 26 (4.15 pm). The following Saturday (December 3), Giants are on the road when they travel to take on Worcester Wolves.