A thrilling game in an electric atmosphere at Oak Tree Leisure Centre saw Mansfield Giants Basketball Club’s woman pip second-placed Sefton Starlights 49-48 to clinch a play-off place and higher place ranking.
Mansfield kept up well in the first few minutes of the quarter, with Gail Richards attacking the basket to be fouled and scoring both free shots as well as a jump shot a few seconds later.
Giants struggled at the defensive end with Jess Shillito and Katy Taylor picking up early fouls.
Taylor was then awarded free throws and a half line procession due to an unsportsmanlike foul against Charlene Kelly.
Giants began to struggle further at the defensive end, with bad offensive decisions from Giants turning into fast breaks from Sefton, which saw them take a 23-10 lead.
Mansfield began to claw back the deficit in the second quarter but further team fouls saw key Giants players coming out of the game early on.
Charlotte Levitt scored a basket from a pick and roll with a pass from G. Richards with further points added to the tally from free throws.
Giants contained Sefton better in this quarter at the defensive end, but it was Sefton still in a 33-19 lead at the half-time break.
A few changes and firm words from player/coach Gail Richards saw a different Giants come out.
G. Richards scored a three pointer to close down the deficit, but at the defensive end Levitt, Shillito and Taylor picked up their fourth individual fouls to leave them on the bench for the remainder of the quarter, Mansfield then having to change their offensive tactics.
Youngster Kirsty Russell, gained some excellent stops with Giants moving the ball well, with open shots scored from Alison Bridge and Kirsty Russell.
J. Richards dominated inside and defensive Giants picked up full court, which led to Giants out scoring Sefton 16-7, ending the third quarter trailing 40-35.
It was all or nothing in the final quarter with Giants’ bench players Jodie Reedman and Kirsty Russell playing valuable minutes and moving the ball well.
Giants stepped up their tempo at the defensive end with Mansfield grabbing important rebounds and steals and Sefton had no comeback.
Giants began to rotate further players with Levitt and Taylor entering the game again, as G. Richards scored two back-to-back long jump shots and a three-pointer to take the scores level at 48-48.
G. Richards stole the ball from a bad Sefton pass and Richards connected with Taylor on a fast break with Taylor scoring one from two free throws awarded.
Sefton got the rebound from the missed shot and looked to fast-break with Richards again stealing the ball and Sefton then fouling in return. With under five seconds to go Giants got the ball in and luckily moved it round to hold onto an exciting one point win.
Scorers: G. Richards 14, C.Levitt 11, J. Richards 10, A. Bridge 4, K. Russell, 4, K. Taylor 4, J. Reedman 2, J. Shillito, A. Barnes, B. Wortley.
Giants’ U14 girls lost 100-15 to a dominant Sheffield Hatters team while the U12 team beat Derby Trailblazers 69-38 in the Nottingham Open Mini League.
Giants men are back in action tonight (Wednesday) in a mouthwatering encounter against local rivals Killamarsh Arrows. Tip-off is 8.30pm at Oak Tree Leisure Centre.
Giants are joining forces with Sports Direct staff to try and raise funds for Sport Relief and will be running lots of fun and games throughout the night, with Giants Men taking on Killamarsh Arrows afterwards.
The men then travel away to Birmingham Mets on Saturday and then down to Southampton on Sunday.
The women play Doncaster Eagles in their final league game of the season before the play-offs at Oak Tree on Saturday (2.30pm) with the U14 girls in action at 12.30pm as they play Cheshire Jets.
For further Giants information please visit www.mansfieldgiants.co.uk and to gain reduced entry into tonight’s home game, please bring in the voucher below.