Sparkling Gems stun Cardiff to reach basketball semis

All smiles from the Encon Derbyshire Gems team after reaching the play-off semi-finals.
All smiles from the Encon Derbyshire Gems team after reaching the play-off semi-finals.

A fantastic performance in front of a partisan home crowd propelled Encon Derbyshire Gems into the play-off semi-finals of the National Women’s Basketball League, Second Division.

Gems, who finished runners-up in the North division, stunned Cardiff City, who came third in the South division, winning 70-54 at the Dronfield Sports Centre.

It’s another tremendous achievement by Gems in only their second season in the National League, setting up a semi against the South division champions, West Herts Warriors, this weekend.

The match was a terrific spectacle, laced with skill and aggression, but key to the hosts’ success was the form of Steph Ogdon, who top scored with 24 points, 14 of which came in the second quarter. She was well supported by Nerea Josebe with 14 points, Helena Palmer with 11 and Kendal James with eight.

Cardiff edged a close but entertaining first quarter 22-20, despite a superb shot from the corner by inspirational captain Kate Loftus.

But as the high tempo of the game continued, Gems surged into a 40-33 lead in the second quarter and extended it to 59-43 in the third quarter.

The home side set out to control the game in the final quarter, denying Cardiff any momentum to launch a fightback. Ferocious defence, including a couple of steals from Zoe Smart, and two classy finishes from Jade Clemenson enabled them to close the game out, with Loftus, fittingly, scoring the concluding points.