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Historic Cup success a product of Hatters’ team-first approach

Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters created history yesterday.

The Hatters claimed a thrilling 62-60 win over Sevenoaks Suns to earn its first WBBL Cup title.

The result saw the South Yorkshire franchise become the first to win all four WBBL titles, having won the Trophy, League and Play-Offs in previous seasons.

Following a thrilling final quarter and down by one with little time on the clock, Helen Naylor’s game-winning three stunned the 5,000 fans inside Arena Birmingham and sent social media into meltdown.

 “I’m absolutely thrilled to have won the WBBL Cup Final yesterday,” began Naylor.

“Everyone was amazing!

“What makes it even more special is to do it with this group of girls – we have an amazing team who work and play for each other, and it means a lot to us all.

“It was a goal we set at the beginning of the season, and to accomplish that in the way we did yesterday is fantastic.

“We haven’t made a big trophy game for a couple of seasons, so it means a lot to the club and the players to get back there.

“We have a lot of hard work ahead to get more silverware this year and reach the rest of our goals, but we are ready for the challenge.”

Sarah Toeaina’s 15 points and game-high 13 rebounds earned MVP honours. The guard produced a relentless display on both ends of the floor to finish with a team-high index score of 26.

“What an amazing feeling being able to wake up with extra hardware for the programme,” reflected Toeaina.

“It was truly a team win and every single person there contributed immensely to the victory.

“I’m truly blessed to be surrounded by a great group of ladies that not only celebrate each other but has one another’s back.

“Throughout our tough practices we compete through game like scenarios, such as the last play, and Helen has come in clutch many times.

“It was a great fought battle by Sevenoaks; we know they’re always great competition and will continue to be throughout the remainder of the season.”

Of the eight Sheffield players to have taken to the court on Sunday, four played over 30 minutes. Levke Brodersen racked up 31 minutes and 34 seconds of action, but the guard perhaps saved her most impactful possession until the end: finding Naylor for the game-winning three.

“Winning the Cup with this incredible team just means a lot,” enthused Brodersen.

“We all worked really hard for this and I am beyond happy that all of the dedication and commitment paid off.

“It is literally a dream come true.”

Unsurprisingly, marquee summer signing Alison Gorrell also saw extended court time. The all-action star netted a team-high 16 points and added eight rebounds and three steals.

“Winning the cup was the first goal we made as a team and to accomplish it with such wonderful and talented people makes it so special and unforgettable.

“Sevenoaks is a very tough opponent and the Final was a great display of women’s basketball.

“We are enjoying the celebration but we are definitely looking forward to competing in the Trophy, starting this week.”

The Cup title becomes the club’s fifth piece of silverware of the WBBL era and a first success since the Trophy during the 2015-16 campaign.

Image: Chris Cox

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