Ipswich Basketball Club’s U16 Girls reach national quarter-finals

Esther Little led the way for Ipswich

Esther Little led the way for Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Under-16 Girls registered a commanding 99-49 over Portsmouth City to advance to the national quarter-finals.

Cameron Taylor-Willis blocks a shot

Cameron Taylor-Willis blocks a shot - Credit: Archant

Amy Linton’s side came out setting the level of intensity for the game. They successful pressed and ran the floor and built an early 29-4 lead.

Ipswich slowed down defensively in the second quarter and lost concentration in places, allowing Portsmouth to score 25 points, Ipswich only narrowly out-scoring them to maintain the lead.

The second half was a test for the Suffolk girls’ concentration and work ethic and they certainly performed, finishing the job in professional fashion.

Esther Little top-scored with 25, followed by 16 from Tash Jarvis. Cameron Taylor-Willis added 11.

Nicol Aston drives for Ipswich

Nicol Aston drives for Ipswich - Credit: Archant

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“This was an outstanding performance for us with everyone playing their part to the full,” enthused Linton.

“Above all else I was pleased with our improved consistency and focus in the second half as we secured the win; we will need 40 minutes of that level of energy when we host Surrey Goldhawks next weekend.”

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A late surge, including forcing an overtime period, wasn’t enough to secure a place in the second round in the playoffs for Ipswich’s Under-18 Men, as they lost in a scrappy game 57-56 away to Birmingham Mets on Saturday.

Having led by two points at the interval, Ipswich found themselves 14 points down with less than four minutes left to play.

Emily Baker runs the floor for Ipswich

Emily Baker runs the floor for Ipswich - Credit: Archant

Tough defence and some impressive three-point shooting from two call-ups from the Under-16s, Lewis Tebbit and Ben Winter, saw Ipswich claw their way back into the game.

Blake Read was very nearly the hero of the day. With Ipswich two points down, his three-point attempt, on the buzzer in regulation time, failed to drop, but he was fouled in the process of shooting and so went to the line to shoot three free throws after the game was over.

Read hit the first two shots to tie the game, but with Ipswich needed the third to secure victory, his final shot rimmed out and so the game went into overtime.

Mets pulled away to a six-point lead, only for Ipswich to again fight back to within 1 point with seconds left. Again Read had the last shot, after a rebound, but was blocked by two Birmingham players. Birmingham now progress to meet Manchester in the next round, albeit by the slimmest of margins.

Tash Jarvis in action for Ipswich U16

Tash Jarvis in action for Ipswich U16 - Credit: Archant

“This was a very difficult away game for us,” said coach Dave Girling. “We were without our star centre, Jonny Hall (broken wrist), who is averaging 24 points and 18 rebounds a game, and our captain Tom Brown (turned ankle).

“We drafted in three of the Under-16 boys to make numbers. All three, Ben Winter, Ethan Price and Lewis Tebbit, did a great job for us, despite not knowing our plays or sets.

“We found it hard to find our usual rhythm on offense and without Jonny points were hard to come by,” he conceded. “This was a gutsy performance by everyone and although we didn’t win, it was a great way to end the season.”

Beside Tebbit’s 15 points for Ipswich, Read finished with 13 and Ben Mobee added eight.

The Under-14 Girls secured the 9th seed in the playoffs, resulting in a trip to Surrey Goldhawks. The home side were too strong, advancing thanks to an 88-59 victory.

Surrey were very strong on both sides of the court, while Ipswich proved unable to break an aggressive press and match their hosts’ intensity.

Too many turnovers cost Ipswich, who also struggled throughout to stop Surrey from scoring outside the perimeter.

“Putting the result to one side, the improvement that these players have made over the season is phenomenal and next season they will be even stronger now they have a national league season under their belts,” said coach Hayley Rigby.

Cameron Taylor-Willis led the way with 21 points. Alicia Boddy added 14 and Susannah Rafiu chipped in eight points.

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