Taylor-Willis leads the way as Ipswich prepare for play-offs with win

Ipswich star Harriet Welham leaves the defence standing and heads to the rim. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich star Harriet Welham leaves the defence standing and heads to the rim. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

WNBL Division One Ipswich 62 Southwark 56 Ipswich rounded off their regular season campaign with an excellent win against Southwark Pride on Saturday, to complete what has been an injury-plagued season that has seen the team battle their way to an even record, and qualify for the national play-offs.

Susanna Rafiu drives into the key for an easy lay-up against Southwark. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Susanna Rafiu drives into the key for an easy lay-up against Southwark. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

Through their 21 games so far this season, Ipswich have managed to play just two games with a full roster.

Despite that, Ipswich have proven to be a team that nobody will want to face in this seasons play-offs.

Victories on the road at title-chasing Bristol Flyers and Solent Kestrels, as well as a comprehensive home wins against Loughborough and Solent again have proven that when firing on all cylinders, Ipswich can beat anyone.

However, losses on the road to relegation-fighting Birmingham and Sevenoaks also show that, when not firing, they are inconsistent.

Becky Harwood-Bellis leads the fast break after forcing a Southwark turn over. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Becky Harwood-Bellis leads the fast break after forcing a Southwark turn over. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant


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The team has an unlikely 11-10 record in all competitions and will finish as either the fifth or sixth seed for the play-offs, depending on other results.

Fifth will likely be Loughborough on the road while sixth will mean Solent – both teams that Ipswich have beaten this season when playing some of their best basketball.

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On Saturday the Suffolk side hosted a young team in a similar situation. Southwark Pride, who like Ipswich are a team made up of young, academy players, came to Ipswich.

Both teams needed to win to avoid a first ever losing season at senior level, and Ipswich prevailed.

Amy Linton played her last home game for Ipswich before retiring. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Amy Linton played her last home game for Ipswich before retiring. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

Cameron Taylor-Willis played her first senior game in six weeks, and returned in style with a team-high 16 point, eight rebound stat line, Danni Cazey added 11 points, while Susannah Rafiu added ten points and six blocked shots.

Harriet Welham, who will be a front runner for WNBL Player of the Year, recorded 14 points while Esther Little added 16 rebounds and six assists to her six points as the team grinded out an impressive 62-56 win against a very talented team.

“It’s been a gruelling season, that’s for sure,” said Ipswich coach Nick Drane. “If last year was a fairytale, this season has been something of an unpredictable story. That being said, the end goal is still available to us – if we win the playoffs, we will be the National Champions, and I would back this group of girls against anybody.”

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