The Women’s Basketball 1s clinched the league title after defeating the physical Northumbria University 2s at Goodwin Sports Centre.
In the end, it became a comfortable win for the black and gold women as they carried on their 100% record with the 50-31 win.
Club captain, Elina Helvuori, said: “Towards the end, we really pulled it together. We wanted to win, and I think we showed that.”
Not for the first time, the tireless Sheffield side ran the visitors ragged and after a tense and tough opening quarter, the Sheffield ladies slowly opened up a large lead.
Helavuori told Forge Press: “Throughout the season, our fitness has helped us do really well in the third and fourth quarters, and in this game the same thing showed. We just didn’t stop, we had the stamina to keep on going.”
Mariana Barrigan put in a terrific performance offensively and defensively to help propel the home team to their tenth consecutive win of the season.
This win against second-placed Northumbria sealed Sheffield’s position as Northern 2B champions this season.
The first quarter saw a physical battle between the two teams, with tempers boiling over within the first five minutes as a Northumbria player received a technical foul.
Northumbria set up in a zone defence which has become iconic of visiting sides as they look to contain Sheffield’s dynamic offence.
On the other end, Northumbria’s well-oiled offence was countered by great help-defence play by the home side.
Courtney Shaw worked hard at both ends of the court to help Sheffield lead 13-10 going into the second period.
The second quarter began with some sloppy play by Sheffield leading to turnovers and consequently, fast-breaks for Northumbria. Fortunately for the home team, Northumbria could not convert these opportunities as much as they should have.
A time-out was quickly called by Sheffield coach, Shannon Schneider-Robinson, whose team-talk revitalised the league leaders to extend their lead to eight points.
Barrigan’s strong and consistent defence on one of Northumbria’s key players helped limit the baskets Sheffield conceded, whilst she also added a few points of her own on the other end.
Sheffield led 28-16 at half-time, and sought to extend their lead at the beginning of the third period, dominating the rebounds for the first time in the game through excellent efforts by Barrigan and Ieva Ugule.
However, both teams were struggling put points on the scoreboard in the third quarter with their equally strong defences cancelling each other out.
Going into the final period, Sheffield led 38-24 and it seemed it would take a miracle for them to lose it from this position.
It seemed that the Northumbria team shared this view as they came out for the fourth quarter looking exhausted and dejected.
Belen Carreno carried the home team over the line with her usual creative flair on the ball as Sheffield took the game 50-31.