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Match Report: Next up... Manchester!

It was a second weekend of back-to-back games for the Endeavour Ipswich Basketball Club’s Senior Women, this time on their home court, as the Suffolk side hosted Loughborough Riders in league play on Saturday before turning their attention to the mighty Sheffield Hatters on Sunday, in the National Cup Sem-Final.

It was four games in 8 days for this group of players, and five for all but two of the team, who also had to navigate an academy game in Oaklands on Wednesday, meaning a gruelling schedule. However, despite their young age, this is a robust and experienced team that know how to handle a heavy workload which is demonstrated with a clean sweep of victories after navigating some of the toughest games of season during this stretch.

Ipswich find themselves entering the Christmas break with a 10-1 record in league play sitting comfortably at the top of WNBL Division One. With a further 4 wins from 4 games in the National Cup, the team find themselves heading to Manchester on Sunday the 21st January to play in the final of one of the sports most prestigious events.

On Saturday, it was an entertaining affair against Loughborough with the visitors clearly in good form, while Ipswich looked slightly less than their best. Perhaps it was due to having one eye on Sunday’s semi-final, or perhaps it was just a bad day at the office but either way the home team did enough to secure a final league win of 2023 and a position at the top of the table going into 2024.

Sunday’s game against Sheffield presented a very different challenge. Welcoming a Division Two team to Ipswich should have, on paper, been clear favourites especially given their league position in Division One. However, this Sheffield team are no ordinary D2 team. The reigning WNBL D2 playoff champions have declined promotion to WNBL Division One twice in the last two seasons and had lost a grand total of just one competitive game in two seasons (last seasons National Cup semi-final) before coming to Suffolk on Sunday. Since the summer, they have benefitted from the addition of a British Basketball legend, Helen Naylor, joining Steph Gandy, Lisa Riches and Sarah Cooney on a D2 roster that would almost certaininly be a favourite in Division One. This game was by no means a David and Goliath match up – if anything, Sheffield, the most successful club in British women’s basketball history, came into the game as favourites.

For much of the game, the visitors looked to be in control holding a lead that was as much as nine at one stage in the third quarter. However, in addition to having great talent, this Ipswich side can boast some exceptional character and the home side managed to stay in the ball game, eventually pouncing mid-way through the fourth quarter.

It was a total team effort from Ipswich in front of the biggest crowd seen at Copleston for many years. Yazmin Edwards put on a remarkable show scoring 28 points with missing just two shots the whole game, while Harriet Welham added 22 and Liv Forster 17. Christabel Osarobo was limited to just 22 minutes but was a key contributor in the second half while Louisa Gibbins and Danni Cazey also made a huge effort to push the team over the line.

Ipswich will now face Thames Valley Cavaliers in the National Cup Final on Sunday 21st January 2024 at the National Performance Centre in Manchester.



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