The Lady Topcats just fall short in the National Trophy Finals on Saturday 22nd February against Leeds Carnegie infront of a big crowd at UEL Sports Dock.
The game was second in proceedings of four finals on the day between two undefeated teams so something had to give. Both teams came out with high intensity on defense which really set the tone for the game. An early steal and basket from Leeds gave them the lead but points from Vanessa Da Silva and Taylor Hilton countered for the Lady Topcats. The game continued to stay at a fast pace which seemed to suit the Lady Topcats as Sevian Witter came off the bench to ignite the team with 5 points of her own to edge the first quarter in favour of the Topcats 17-14.
The second quarter saw Witter again score another 4 personal points supported by Hilton who was starting to find her range. Rochelle Davids was now starting to stamp her authority on both ends of the floor assisting and scoring will with Rachel James and Fatumah Lwazi causing issues for the Leeds guards with their pressure. However Leeds started to find their offence rhythm towards the end of the quarter to take a half time lead of 33-29.
The third quarter saw Taylor Hilton take matters into her own hands carrying the Topcats offensively nothing up 13 points personal in the quarter to close the gap to just a single point where it was 45-44 in Leeds’ favour. This inspired the Lady Topcats who were starting to really limit Leeds with their defensive tenacity.
The final quarter was a back and forth encounter with the high tempo again playing into Topcats favour but they seemed to hit an offensive drought finding so many of their shots not dropping. It took the last 5 minutes for the teams to find any rhythm where it was Hilton and Davids doing most of the damage for the Topcats. By now the game had seen six lead changes and 11 times the game had been tied showing the back and forth battle of the game. The game was going down to the wire where the Lady Topcats were forced to foul to stop the clock to put Leeds on the free throw line. Leeds managed to seal the victory at the line where a hard fought effort by the Lady Topcats just fell short losing 65-60.
England Basketball had mentioned the game being the best final of the day as well highlighting Taylor Hilton: “In arguably the best game of the day at SportsDock, the Women’s National Trophy finals was one of those games where the MVP could have easily been given to the losing side. Brixton’s Taylor Hilton was simply outstanding; the 6′ American forward had 26 points and 20 rebounds.”
Head Coach Steve Vear echoed what England Basketball had to say:
“It was one of those games that really could have gone either way. It was a real war out there between two very good teams and was a great game to be apart of. I’m so proud of my team. I couldn’t ask for anymore of them. Our shots just didn’t fall today and that happens but being runners up is still an amazing achievement for our first year together. We have to move on from this, use it as fuel to win the League and Playoff Finals”
The club would like to congratulate the Lady Topcats for getting to a National Final which is a huge achievement in itself. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the fans for coming to support the team as well as congratulate Leeds on what was a great advert for women’s basketball. The Lady Topcats will look to bounce back this Saturday 1st March vs Team Solent away in the league at 6pm.