Harwood-Bellis stars as Ipswich fight back to down the Kestrels
WNBL Division One
Solent Kestrels 63
Ipswich started 2019 in style with a dramatic comeback win against the high-flying Solent Kestrels at Copleston.
The Suffolk side started the game terribly, with Solent adding to their woes, by seemingly hitting everything they threw up to start the game. The visitors, who came to Suffolk with a 6-2 record and very much in the title hunt, forced Ipswich coach Nick Drane into an early time out after opening up a huge 15-2 lead to start the game.
And Ipswich didn’t allow the lead to grow, keeping things just about within touching distance as the Kestrels held a strong 28-15 lead after the first quarter.
However, it was a different Ipswich team that would play the remainder of this game, outscoring their opponents 66-35 for the final three quarters, and winning 81-63.
It was a rounded attack for the home side, with Esther Little enjoying her best game of the season with 19 points to go with 16 rebounds and seven assists while Cameron Taylor-Willis added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
MVP Harriet Welham had another outstanding performance with 18 points and 15 boards, while Danni Cazey made some massive plays for the hosts, most notably a four-point-play to give the team the lead in the third quarter.
However, perhaps the standout performance was that of 16-year-old guard, Becky Harwood-Bellis. The GB junior international was charged with the responsibility of guarding Solent’s leading scorer, Gina Gomez, who hit 11 points in the first quarter.
However, Harwood-Bellis smothered her for much of the remaining three quarters - holding the guard to just five points in the second half.
With her defence swinging the momentum, Harwood-Bellis then made key plays offensively, scoring seven of Ipswich’s nine points in a key third quarter run, very much announcing her arrival as a key player for the team to the Ipswich crowd!
Drane said: “This was a massive win. Had we continued to play the way we did in the first quarter, we would have been blown out and it could have looked like a very long second half of the season. But, to fight back and eventually win in the manner we did was fantastic.”
Ipswich now travel to heavy favourites Bristol Flyers, who sit comfortably top of the table with a 9-1 record.