Sheffield Hatters hit the top spot as Helen Naylor leads way yet again

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Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters are new leaders of the Women’s British Basketball League.

Their 86-54 win over Cardiff Met Archers deposed Nottingham Wildcats with the position being confirmed later in the day when Wildcats suffered their first defeat of the season, 78-73 at Team Northumbria.

Helen Naylor’s 28 points led Hatters to their tenth straight league victory and they, like Northumbria, remain unbeaten on their home floor so far this campaign.

The league’s leading scorer, Naylor, led the Hatters for the third game in a row .

Hatters had been through the century mark in two of their previous three games, and the last meeting in the league between these teams was a thrilling 100-94 Hatters success.

Ten minutes into this game it looked as though they may achieve that again, as they settled it in the early exchanges after a 26-13 first quarter, with Naylor on fire on her way to 16 first half points.

The Archers stemmed the flow in the second stanza but, despite being the league’s third highest scorers overall, failed to close the gap as they struggled to convert at the offensive end against the league’s second sternest defence.

Cardiff went in trailing 42-23 at half time and there was no way back in the second half of the game, as the Hatters rattled off another 24 third quarter points and eased through the latter stages, restricting Archers to their lowest points tally since the opening night of the campaign in early October.

Hatters 86 (26,42,66) (Naylor 28, Gandy 16, Reese 15); Cardiff Met Archers 54 (13,23,40) (Jenkins 12, Butters 10, Wagstaff 7).

Championship top three: Hatters p13, 24pts; Nottingham p12, 22pts; Northumbria p13, 20 pts.

n In the men’s game Linbraze Arrows gave one of the performances of the season to record a 92-77 away win over a formidable fifth-placed Loughborough Riders.

The win keeps the Killamarsh side in third place in the league with an 11 – 4 record. The team will be looking to continue this good form in their next game in Brixton on Sunday afternoon.

Head coach Andrew Purnell rated the performance one of the best of the season.

“Loughborough are a strong and talented team and we came into today knowing only our best would do,” he said.

“Thankfully we had several high level performances. Cameron McCallum, Joseph Baugh and Andre Rankine, all showed the leadership and scoring we needed.”

Overseas star Chris Dixon said: “I believe as a team this was the most complete game we have played since I have been here.

“Everyone chipped in to get the win today one way or another against a tough Loughborough team on the road”.

Arrows scorers: Dixon 25, McCallum 20, Rankine 17, Baugh 14, Scott 12, Kelly 2 and Wheatcroft 2.

Arrows Under-18s bounced back from a disappointing performance against Manchester the week before with a 77-64 away win over Trafford.

This takes the Arrows to 10-8 in league play with just four more games to go.

Arrows scorers: Walcott 18, Lycoudis 13, Bristow 11, Zaheer 10, Mohamed 9, Hopkinson 5, Baugh 4, Mohammed 3, Brock and Dennison 2.

Arrows are still in with a chance of the play-offs and coach Pete Kelly said: “We are chasing the pack but we have an easier run in than all the teams around us.

“We are more focused on getting one more win to take us to 11 wins; this was our target at the start of the year.”

Arrows Under-16s continued their improvement under coach Mitchell Dennison with an 111-58 away win over Rotherham Hawks.The game featured the the much-anticipated debut for new signing Rickyle Anderson.

Arrows scorers: Anderson 30, Salim 28, Hassan 15, Smith 9, Wood 7, Shedd and Wright 6, McFarlane 4, Unwin and Taylor 2 and Jama 1.

The Arrows are in 3rd place with a 9-5 record and are in a battle to win a post season spot.