Clinical Gems book cup final place

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A captains performance from Kate Loftus led the Gems to the cup final with a 65-48 win over Leeds Trinity Tigers.

Loftus’ 21 points for the Derbyshire Arrows’ womens side was well-supported by a 17-point show from team-mate Rachel Campbell.

Gems found it tough going in the first quarter despite early baskets from Rameau. A late flurry from Kerry Matthews kept the Gems in touch, trailing 18-15.

The second quarter began with Loftus and Palmer scoring baskets before a well-worked move put Emma Birkinshaw in who made no mistake for the Gems.

They saved the best until last, however, with Loftus scoring on the buzzer to give the Gems a 29-26 interval lead.

The Gems have worked on their fitness and team play in preparation for the semi-final and it began to come together in the vital third quarter in which they played some of their best basketball.

An aggressive defence limited the Tigers to only four points while the Gems exploded offensively, with the highlight being an assist by Kerry Matthews to Romeau that left the Tigers scattered. Campbell and Loftus combined for 11 points as the Gems led by a comfortable 48-30 with a quarter left.

The Gems had a place in the final in their sights and although the Tigers were much more competitive the control of Kendal James and co meant that the Gems ran out 65-48 winners.

Coach Pete Kelly was clearly delighted after watching his side reach the final in their first full season as part of the Arrows club.

He said: “The group has worked so hard on a progressive brand of basketball, they have worked hard as individuals and as a team they have come through a tough route to make the final and should look forward to the experience.”

Scorers: Loftus 21, Campbell 17, Rameau 7, Palmer 7, Matthews 6, James 5 and Birkinshaw 2.