Ipswich basketball club to host two national cup semi-finals at Copleston on Sunday

The winning Ipswich team after beating bitter rivals Derby Trailblazers 75-70 at Copleston

The winning Ipswich team after beating bitter rivals Derby Trailblazers 75-70 at Copleston - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Basketball Club are gearing up for the biggest day in their history on Sunday – the chance for two of their sides to reach national finals.

For the first time in their 38-year existence, the Suffolk side will host a national cup semi-final double header.

At 2pm at the Copleston Centre, the club’s under-16 boys will battle Solent Kestrels, while at 4.30pm the mens’ side face Worcester Wolves with a chance to make the Patrons Cup Final.

It comes as the senior side, who play in Division Two of the English Basketball League, are riding a wave of momentum.

In the last two weeks, Ipswich have beaten league-leaders Derby Trailblazers in a fierce scrap at Copleston 75-70, and followed that with an epic 143-135 triple overtime win at the Derbyshire Arrows.

Now fourth in the table with a record of seven wins and four losses, they will be favourites to see off the struggling Wolves and advance to the Patrons Cup Final in London on February 22.

The under-16’s, meanwhile, have only lost one game all season, led by promising young coach Adam Davies and future stars Rory Winter, Mark James and 6ft 8ins Freddie Ratliff.

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While the club’s under 13s, featuring current senior players Sam Newman and Luke Mascall-Wright, won the national final in 2009 and their ladies squads were a national force in the 1990’s, head coach Nick Drane believes Sunday is the biggest day in their recent history.

“This is the biggest thing we’ve done in my time,” he said.

“It demonstrates the strength of the club as a whole, not just the senior team.

“I’m probably more proud of the fact that the under-16s are in the semi-final than the fact that the senior men are.

“It shows that we’ve got some great young players coming through for the future, which we’ve always been very proud about developing.”

And Drane hopes Sunday will see a record crowd at Copleston cheer both sides to their respective national finals.

The current record stands at 311, set when Ipswich hosted the Great Britain under-23 squad for an international game last year.

“We could probably get another few in at a push,” Drane said.

“I want to get 300 people crammed into that sportshall and make it as loud and noisy as possible.

“It does make such a big difference, and the under-16s have earned the right to play in that type of atmosphere – I’m sure they would rise to the occasion even more.”

Drane believes both sides have good chances of winning through to their respective finals.

The senior men, who developed a habit of falling to defeat in close games earlier this season, are flying now and keen to get one over on bitter rivals Worcester, who regularly proved a thorn in their side as both clubs stepped up through the EBL divisions.

“Our character has never been in question but we had a couple of silly losses and these last two games have proved something to ourselves,” Drane said.

“If we play well we can beat anybody.

“Worcester have always been a bogey side for us and our players want to take Worcester’s dominance away from them.

“We’re confident, based on how we’re playing right now.

“I think the under-16’s are going to do it – I’ve got a good feeling about this team.

“If we both got through it would be a measure of the good people we have here who give up their time for this club.

“It’s good for the community to see that not only have we got a men’s team which is getting all this coverage and developing a profile, but look how good our youngsters are as well.”

Admission is free to watch the under 16’s game on Sunday but for the senior men it will cost £3 for adults, £2 for under 18s and £1 for under 11s.

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