It’s been a great week for Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters coach Vanessa Ellis as the team goes from strength to strength.
Ellis - daughter of Hatters legend, founder and chair Betty Codona - has been appointed head coach of Great Britain Under-18s, and named the Molten Women’s British Basketball League’s coach of the month.
The award follows an unbeaten start to 2017 for Hatters, who are second in the WBBL and have made an impressive start to their defence of the WBBL Trophy, which they won for the last two years.
Hatters followed up their 82-72 Trophy win at Nottingham Wildcats with a 69-50 home win over Caledonia Pride at All Saints.
And tomorrow is the real ‘biggie’ as they host inaugural WBBL Cup winners Manchester Mystics in their third Northern Group match at All Saints tomorrow (3pm).
Hatters will be bidding for revenge over Mystics who narrowly beat them 82-79 in the Championship in Manchester in December.
The club urge supporters to come along and back the team.
After her double success, Ellis said: “‘It’s always great to be recognised but for me the award is an acknowledgement of all the team - their effort and commitment to improve and get better each training session and match.
“It is a great honour and privilege to be working with a national team. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
Hatters star Steph Gandy was named in the WBBL All Star Five for the seventh time this season after scoring 20 points against Caledonia Pride to maintain her rich vein of form. She is joint second for most appearances.
Brittany Winborne added 18 against Pride but Hatters didn’t have it all their own way as Pride, winless since October, were as close as 11-10 when Beth Mackie hit a first quarter three-pointer.
But Gandy stopped that run in a quick spell of six straight points towards the end of the first and they were soon up by double-digits, 27-17, when Naomi Campbell scored two of her 11 points early in the second stanza.
Hatters defence came to the fore, holding their visitors to just six points in ten minutes, and they led 32-19 at the half.
Pride did get close again when Tricia Oakes and then Sarah Thomson, with a three-pointer, narrowed the deficit to 48-39.
But a dagger three-pointer ended the third quarter for Sheffield, and they were back up 60-45 early in the fourth quarter, with there being no way back for the visitors as Hatters are unbeaten on their home floor in nearly three months.
Hatters 69 (18,32,51) (Gandy 20, Winborne 18, Campbell 11)
Caledonia Pride 50 (13,19,39) (Peacock 17, Oakes 12, Mackie 8)
Hatters Under-16 had a thrilling 50-51 win away to Northampton in the second match of the new National Premier League.
Hatters’ vital fundraising efforts towards the escalating costs of running a top team in an increasingly competitive competition go on and a clothes collection raised £268.
Other recent results included: Hatters’ Division Two team beat Sefton 59-57; U16s lost 48-40 to Haringey and U14s beat Hatfield 61-39.