The Ipswich Senior Women secured home court advantage for the first round of the WNBL D1 Playoffs with a huge team effort Sunday. The team completed the regular season with a 15-7 record, tied for 3rd place in the league, but acquiring the 4th seed on account of Thames Valley holding the head-to-head advantage over Ipswich (by just two points).
Ipswich went into the weekend needing to win one of their final two fixtures to claim home court, both against Solent , while the Kestrels needed to win both games if they were to steal the fourth seed from the Suffolk side. So, when Solent took a three-point victory on Saturday, it set up what was essentially a playoff game between the two sides on Sunday.
Despite a slow start, Ipswich eventually found their stride in the second quarter, taking an eight point advantage into half time, and gradually building on that lead throughout the second half, playing with poise and composure to close out an impressive 79-64 win.
The win sets up a home game in the playoffs next Sunday, where the team will face Anglia Ruskin. If there is to be an extra competitive spin put on this game, it's that these two teams have won the WNBL D1 playoffs for the last three seasons - with Ipswich winning in 2021, and ARU in 2018 and 2019. Obviously there was no winner in 2020 due to COVID.
"It was a good weekends work, but we have a lot more work to do" said Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane who added "It's really exciting to be able to play a double header in the playoffs next weekend with our u16 girls - I imagine it will be standing room only inside Copleston".
While the story of this season is yet to be finished, this Ipswich team have already far exceeded expectations. Questions were being asked in the off-season as to whether there were even enough high-level players available to Coach Drane to even field a competitive team, and this was before a key player was ruled out for the season. Making the playoffs was something not many people expected, and a top four finish was beyond most peoples wildest dreams - except for those closest to the team... "You don't do what we've done at this club repeatedly over the years if you don't love a challenge, proving people wrong and enjoy being the under-dog" Added Drane.
Since the re-launch of the Ipswich women's programme in 2017, IBC have lost just 20 league games in five seasons, winning more than 80% of their games. A remarkable record for anyone, but especially for a club from a town the size of little old Ipswich!
Ipswich will host ARU on Sunday afternoon - tip time 3:30pm.