MANSFIELD Giants’ women secured an important 59-32 victory at City of Sheffield Hatters on Saturday to keep their EBL National League Division Two basketball play-off hopes on course.
Giants need to win all of their remaining games and finish second in order to gain a more favourable home court play-off spot for the closing stages of the season.
Coach Gail Richards said: “We started off slow today, but we work well as a team and are really starting to understand and complement each other well.
“Our persistence began to pay off in the second half and Hatters’ inexperience started to show, which resulted in the game getting quite scrappy in parts. We now have our sights firmly set on second place.”
Mansfield braved the elements to travel to local rivals Sheffield, knowing a win was vital to stay on track.
ButGiants made a slow start as they struggled to stop Hatters from shooting from outside.
A few early shots put the team on the back foot, as they battled to bring the game under their control, finishing the quarter one point down.
The second quarter again saw Giants’ defence lacking as Hatters sank three three-pointers to keep them in the game.
However, the women began to revert back to their strengths, using their height advantage to dominate inside.
Charlotte Levitt kept her nerve to sink five straight free throws, while the Giants’ experience began to show through as they took control of the game.
Sharp outside shooting from Gail Richards and Katy Taylor sent the team into half-time with a less than comfortable four point lead, finishing 30-26 up.
A storming start to the third quarter from the Giants sent them on a 10-0 scoring spree, displaying some outstanding team play, with Alison Bridge and Jodie Readman using some creative passing to distort Hatters’ defence, forcing them into an early time-out.
The Giants once again came out on fire, as Hatters struggled to contain Jo Richards inside resulting in a number of ‘and ones’ being awarded.
Levitt continued to cause problems with the Hatters’ defence, setting up fellow centre Jess Shillito for some good mid-range shots.
Giants upped their defence, holding the Sheffield side to just four points in the quarter while they went on a 20 point rampage.
Giants kept their cool throughout the final quarter as Kirsty Russell and Katy Taylor pressured their guards, forcing them to make numerous turnovers and bad shots.
Then 12-year-old Anna Barnes stepped on the court once again to gain valuable experience against a physical side, proving again that she can hold her own against much older and stronger opponents.
Giants’ scorers: Jo Richards 21, Charlie Levitt 18, Katy Taylor 9, A Bridge 4, Jodie Readman 3, Jess Shillito 2, Gail Richards 2, Kirsty Russell, Anna Barnes.
Giants’ junior teams’ fixtures fell foul of the weather.
This Saturday at Oak Tree Leisure Centre Giants’ men take on Eastside Eagles (6pm) as they also try to battle their way into a play-off place.
Giants have already faced Eastside, who include ex-England international Ronnie Baker, twice this year, splitting the result one apiece.
Their first encounter saw a 19-point loss for Giants in the Patrons Cup in one of their first outings of the year.
This was followed up with a much closer game as the two met once again in the league back in November, this time with Giants coming out on top.
Discounted entry of £3 adults, £1.50 children will be given to spectators with a copy of the Chad or website ticket.
The U14 girls take on Barrow Thorns at 12.30pm, while the U13s face Shropshire Warriors ( 2.30pm).
The women take a well earned break as a result of Ilkeston Outlaws pulling out of the league.