Ipswich Basketball Club’s under-16 sides make history

Ipswich's Abbey Yorke looks to drive past the defence. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich's Abbey Yorke looks to drive past the defence. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Basketball are celebrating securing two junior Final Four appearances in the same season for the first time in club history, as both the Under-16 Boys and Girls sides won their national quarter-finals at the weekend to advance to the showcase event in Manchester next month, writes Rob Schatten.

Ipswich's Nicole Aston sets the screen for Susanna Rafiu to utilise so she can beat her defender. Pi

Ipswich's Nicole Aston sets the screen for Susanna Rafiu to utilise so she can beat her defender. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

On Saturday afternoon, the boys and coach Adam Robinson travelled to Northamptonshire Titans.

The hosts began with a blistering 31-point first quarter, but Ipswich have made it to this stage of the season thanks to their defensive determination. They held the Titans to just seven points in the second period to take a lead into the half-time break.

Neither side dominated during a tense second half, but Ipswich did just enough, behind 20 points from Jacob Morgan, and supported by 18 apiece from Ethan Price and Ahmeed Yusoof.

Price and Troy Huggins hit key free throws late on to ensure a 78-75 victory for the Suffolk side.

Nicole Aston makes sure she has her hands on the lose ball in a fight for possession. Picture: PAVEL

Nicole Aston makes sure she has her hands on the lose ball in a fight for possession. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

There was more success back at Copleston on Sunday as the Under-16 Girls became the second Ipswich side to eliminate Manchester Mystics from the playoffs this season – breaking a trend of recent years – and did so with impressive calmness under pressure.

Ipswich built a double-digit first quarter lead but Manchester had erased the deficit and trailed by just a point at half time. Ipswich finally broke the game open early in the fourth, winning the final frame 21-7 to win 67-53, securing a second straight Final Fours appearance for Hayley Rigby’s team.

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Esther Little led Ipswich in scoring, followed by Ella Pearson and Cameron Taylor-Willis.

“This is a tremendous day for Ipswich Basketball Club, for two of our hardest-working coaches, and some of our most gifted players,” said club head coach Nick Drane.

Esther Little finds the gap in the defence. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Esther Little finds the gap in the defence. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

“In a town of 100,000 people, to achieve what our programme does is testament to everyone who sacrifices their time to help our young people improve, and I’m immensely proud of Hayley, Adam and their players.”

Sadly, it was not to be for the Under-14 Girls, who fell to a narrow defeat at Newham Youngbloods on Saturday to exit at the quarter-final stage.

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