Georgia Gayle says she is thriving with the support of her team-mates as Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters made a successful start to the defence of their WBBL Trophy title.
Hatters claimed an 83-67 win at Sevenoaks Suns in Saturday’s quarter-final, to move a step closer to January’s showpiece game at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham.
“It was a great win,” Gayle enthused. “We came into the game very motivated and had a lot of energy which was reflected in the score.
“We had our blips in the first half but [head coach] Vanessa (Ellis) re-focused us and we came out in the second half fighting to pull away and extend the lead. ”
Gayle scored 11 points in another valuable contribution off the bench, and believes her hard work is paying off this season.
“This year my team have really supported me to push myself and step up in games,” declared Gayle.
“I still feel I can give more, but this will hopefully come throughout the rest of the season.
“I have been working more off the court this year - shooting when I can and getting in the gym - I feel like this has helped a lot and I hope to carry on contributing more each game.”
Sheffield went all the way and were victorious in the WBBL Trophy Final last year, and Gayle would love another trip to Birmingham to compete for more silverware.
“We always aim for silverware, so the final is where we want to be,” the 18-year-old insisted.
“Last week in training we realised how important it is to be back in Birmingham defending our title.
“The pressure will keep building, but we have been in this position many times and the results show that we can handle it.
“We love having a big crowd behind us - the added support gives us motivation and energises us.”
After suffering a first loss in the WBBL Championship for over a year against the high-flying Team Northumbria last month, Hatters have responded with back-to-back victories and with two home games to follow against Brixton this Sunday (4pm) and Leicester on Saturday, December 12 (3pm), there is an opportunity to continue building momentum.
“We have been more determined since the loss at Northumbria as we know we can do better,” Gayle admitted.
“It was very important to get a win under our belts as soon as possible. Vanessa re-grouped us this week in training and made us realise how we played in Northumbria wasn’t us.
“The loss hits us hard, but we aren’t going to let it hold us back.
“We beat Manchester, but we weren’t satisfied which is why we wanted to get a solid win against Sevenoaks, and we did that.”
She added: “We want to finish this year on a high so we obviously want to win our next home games against Brixton and Leicester. .”
Hatters 83 (19,38,64) (Naylor 24, Gandy 20, Gayle 11).
Northumbria joined the Hatters in the semi-finals with a 75-32 win at Leicester Riders. And Barking Abbey Crusaders went through 71-49 against Cardiff Met Archers.
* Sheffield Saints emerged from a tough weekend double without reward. They were beaten 80-64 at home by Newcastle-Under-Lyne despite leading 40-37 at half-time.
Saints team and scorers: Javan Hayles 16, Garnet Gayle 11, David Frost 10, Pete Olusoga 7, Callum McKenzie, Josh Edwards 6, Marcus Welsh 6, Terence Wood 2, Tyler Gayle, Matt Buckley & Kenneth Nwose.
On Sunday they were beaten by 22 points by Sefton Stars in Liverpool.
Team and scorers: Callum McKenzie 15, George Naylor 12, David Frost 11, Josh Edwards 8, Luke Parker 8, Marcus Welsh 5, Garnet Gayle 4, Tyler Gayle 2, Pete Olusoga 2.
Saints have no game this weekend but are at home to Tees Valley Mohawks on Saturday December 12 at 5pm.