There was plenty of dynamite on display as the Ipswich Basketball Club’s Senior Women’s team connected on a season high fifteen three-point shots as they put together their best defensive performance of the season as they wrapped up the WNBL regular season in style on the road to Reading Rockets on Saturday in Berkshire.
Reading went into the game knowing that a win against the newly crowned WNBL champions would see them leapfrog Nottingham, securing the 5th seed in the playoffs. However, Ipswich had other ideas, completely dominating from start to finish, securing a 37-78 win, with everyone on the young Ipswich roster playing a major role.
Ipswich used a blistering start, making their first four shots from beyond the arc (two each from Cameron Taylor-Willis and Harriet Welham) as they jumped out to a 14-2 lead, and never looked back. Both Taylor-Willis and Welham continued to have a hot hand as the pair went 6/8 from long range as Ipswich closed out a first quarter that restricted their hosts to single digits for the quarter.
The game demonstrated Ipswich at their absolute best, stifling defence combined with powerful offence as the Suffolk side had several phases of play that will have had any team struggling for answers. Reading, a very talented and well coached young team, put up a admirable fight, but simply could match the league champions. The visitors were led, as ever, by Harriet Welham who helped herself to 23 points, while Taylor-Willis added fourteen. Esther Little made it eighteen double figure rebound games out of eighteen as the Gonzaga-bound youngster collected seventeen boards to go with twelve points and six blocks. Elsewhere, Charlotte Redhead and Susannah Rafiu both put up big stat lines off the bench – Redhead’s four three-point shots in four minutes brought the Ipswich bench to their feet while Rafiu had a season high ten rebounds as the Ipswich team moved into the playoffs with an emphatic victory, taking them to 16-2 on the season.
“This was as well as we have played all season” Said Ipswich Coach Nick Drane. “It was nice to play with some freedom, before the playoffs kick in next week and it was awesome to have everyone playing so well”.
Of the ten teams in WNBL Division One, only two teams playoff fate was already decided going into this weekend. Ipswich, had been crowned league champions with a game to spare, while Cardiff Archers were out of the playoff mix – meaning the eight other teams were still jockeying for position. After a hectic weekend that saw some surprising results, the final league standings were confirmed and the playoff match ups have now been booked. Ipswich, as we already knew, had secured the league title and the number one seed for the post season. CoLA Southwark Pride won both their games this weekend leapfrogging Loughborough and stealing the second seed, while the Riders dropped to 3rd despite their narrow win over Nottingham. Solent stayed where they were in fourth place, while Nottingham stayed in 5th after Reading failed to upset Ipswich. The most notable changes happened at the bottom of the playoff picture, with Barking Abbey London Lions jumping from 9th to 7th with a remarkable win on the Road to Worcester, who looked a shoe in for the playoffs for much of the season. However, when Thames Valley won both their games this weekend they also jumped over the Wolves, who fell all the way to 9th. The final league standings and playoff seedings are below…
1: Ipswich Basketball 16-2
2: CoLA Southward Pride 13-4
3: Loughborough Riders 12-5
4: Solent Kestrels 10-8
5: Nottingham Trent 9-9
6: Reading Rockets 9-9
7: Barking Abbey London Lions 6-12
8: Thames Valley Cavaliers 6-12
9: Worcester Wolves 6-12
10: Cardiff Archers 2-16
Ipswich will now host Thames Valley next Saturday in the 1st vs 8th match up, with the winner of that battle taking on the winner of Solent vs Nottingham. On the other side of the bracket, the two in form London based teams CoLA and Barking will do battle, with the winner facing whoever comes out on top of Loughborough and Reading.
The famous ‘Ipswich Basketball Family’ will be hoping for some good news, with the Basketball England ‘RTP Roadmap’ currently stating that from the 17th May, ‘limited spectators’ will be allowed to watch games, meaning that should Ipswich take care of business this Saturday, there is a chance the ‘Blue Army’ (and wigs) could be in attendance at HQ for not only the playoff semi-final, but also what could very well be the last home game in the young careers of several of the Ipswich players.
Ipswich will host the Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday the 15th May at Copleston, at 2pm in the first round of the WNBL Division One Playoffs.
The WNBL Playoff Final is scheduled for 3pm on Saturday the 29th May at the ‘Wildcats Arena’ in Nottingham.