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Academy Women lose in WEABL Final heartbreak

City of London Academy (CoLA) extended their record as the most successful team in WEABL history, sealing their fifth title with an 89-84 victory, with a win over the previously undefeated Copleston High School (Ipswich Basketball Academy).

Copleston came to Manchester with an impressive record, including two wins over CoLA during the regular season, but were left empty-handed at the last following an enthralling showpiece.

With neither side able to build a significant lead for much of the contest, a late CoLA run ballooned their advantage to double digits with 4:15 remaining.

That invited a Copleston fightback and that's exactly what the Suffolk programme did, pulling to within a point with less than a minute to play. A Copleston steal mean the Ipswich outfit had possession with forty seconds on the clock, but they were unable to convert a score, allowing CoLA to connect at the other end, opening up a two possession advantage – giving them the 89-84 win.

Key to the Londoners' late run was MVP guard Ayla Habbal, who had huge plays at both ends of the court to finish with 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and a priceless block on a Yazmin Edwards' triple with 17 ticks to go.

Habbal was supported by a 16-point, 16-rebound double-double Felicia Jacobs, plus strong showings from Glory Kabia (15pts, 6ast), Adaora Diroamma (16pts, 7reb) and Violet Stutz (17pts).

Copleston will no doubt be devastated they couldn't turn their #1 seed into a first WEABL crown since their joint win in 2019/20, they were led by Yazmin Edwards (27pts, 8reb), Christabel Osarobo (22pts, 12reb) and Liv Forster’s seventeen points.

“All credit to CoLA, it was a heck of a game, as it always is between us and while we are obviously disappointed to have lost, we lost to a great team”. Said Nick Drane. Drane added “CoLA have been in every WEABL final since 2019, and have won the last three outright championships, and four if you include the 2020 championship which we shared – we knew that the #1 seed meant nothing in a final on a neutral court against a team which such a rich history of winning this competition”.

The Ipswich ladies now turn their attention to the WNBL Playoffs, where their opponents are still not yet known – but we do know that there will be playoff basketball at Copleston at lunch time on Saturday the 13th April.


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