It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for the two Ipswich teams as two of our sides, and a huge number of supporters, made the trip to Manchester for the Junior National Cup Finals on Saturday. The highlight was a second National Cup title in three seasons for the U18 Women, a huge achievement considering this group is a different generation to the 2020 title winning side.*
*There was no National Cup in the 2020-21 season due to the covid pandemic
The U16 Girls were up first, losing to a talented Manchester side but putting an effort in to be proud of. Then, on Saturday afternoon, the U18 Women, made up of players based at our Ipswich Basketball Academy, enacted some revenge on a CoLA side that beat them in the same competition final a year ago.
Read below the recaps of both fixtures courtesy of Basketball England, as well as a photo gallery from each fixture!
U18 Women win National Cup in revenge game against CoLA Southwark Pride
Ipswich eased to an 83-51 victory against CoLA to avenge last season's final disappointment against the same opponent.
Any thoughts of a second consecutive Cup success for the London programme were quickly dismissed following a 12-0 Ipswich run to start the game, leading to a 24-10 first-quarter and a 42-22 half-time advantage.
The 2019/20 champs further increased their lead after the interval, enjoying an MVP performance from Yazmin Edwards.
The talented guard dropped 11 of her 27 points in the game's opening frame to push her side into a lead they'd never relinquish, adding seven rebounds, three steals and an assist to her afternoon's work.
Liv Forster added 23 points in support, and forward Louisa Gibbins came close to a double-double with 11 points and nine boards.
Pride were led by Glory Kabia (12pts) and 11 points apiece from Felicia Jacobs and Freya Hawkins.
Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane said: "Immensely proud to be here. This is our third Under-18s National Cup final in a row, and to do it with a new generation shows the strength of our programme and the work being done by the coaches working in the younger age groups, bringing these players through so I get to work with them when they're polished, high-level players.
"I don't think there's a greater a thrill as a coach than taking someone at a young age and developing them and seeing them grow. Yazmin in particular today was just phenomenal. She's shown this kind of ability in the past but not at this level. We're all so pleased for her.
"Our plan today was to protect our basket. CoLA are a well coached, well disciplined team, who are capable of causing problems with their size and athletic ability. In order to compete with them, you've got to compete with them physically and I thought our girls did a really good job of that."
MVP Yazmin Edwards said: "It feels amazing and I'm just so happy that we managed to do this. I just wanted this so bad, I was just making sure to block everything out and make sure all my focus was on this game. This is a big achievement for the club and I'm excited to see where it takes us."
U16s fall short as Manchester grab Final win
Manchester Mystics claimed the U16 Girls' final following a comfortable 93-66 victory against Ipswich.
Avenging their narrow loss on this stage a year ago, the Mystics rode out an even start to the game to lead 49-28 at the half. The North West side turned the screw to further extending their lead after the interval, grabbing an eventual 30 steals and forcing their opponents into 39 turnovers as part of an intense defensive performance.
The Mystics' advantage touched 30 points in the third quarter before a late Ipswich fight back, but the Suffolk side had no answer for eventual MVP Irene Oboavwoduo. The talented guard closed with a team-high 23 points (10/16 FGs) to go with six rebounds, five assists and four steals, supported by 18 points by Elizandra Costa plus 14 points and six steals from Alexandra Hernandez.
For Ipswich, Maia Wiseman had 23 points and 10 boards for the double-double, with team-mate Cerys Leach (19pts, 12reb) also securing a double-double.
Manchester Mystics' head coach Rob Fairley said: "Honestly [winning's] a weird feeling, I spoke to the team before hand and honestly, I was proud of them whether they won or lost.
"We'd emphasised in the week [up to the game] that we're just going try and enjoy the day, work as hard as we can, play as a team and whatever happens that's not the be all and end all. I couldn't be prouder of the whole team.
"Our mentality as a club is you're going to play defence. We set our stall out to play as tough defence as we can. And I think we showed that today."