Ipswich Basketball Club’s head coach has said the whole county should ‘be very proud’ of their double National Cup success, with a core of Suffolk players in the squad.
Fifteen-year-olds Cameron Taylor Willis and Ella Pearson, both from Sudbury, were two of the four U16 players who first helped the women’s team to a club history-making National Cup success in January before securing the U16 title too.
The youth team beat league rivals Haringey Angels, 58-42, in the final at the Worcester Arena on February 24, to see them follow in the footsteps of the women’s squad.
And both youngsters had a big hand to play, with Cameron the team captain and Ella scoring 13 points for the side.
Head coach Nick Drane said: “Both Cameron and Ella are young ladies that have made the commitment to basketball at a very young age and I’m so pleased to see it pay off for them so soon.
“They committed to travel to get elite coaching and they’re developing very well — they’re both very talented young ladies.
“They also show the right attitude to training and to the sport. They’re a credit to the club and they deserve the national recognition of a title like this.
“I think it’s one of the most talented generation of players we have ever had here at the club, and winning two National Cups is sort of proof of that already.
“Suffolk should be very proud of what they have already achieved, and I’m sure won’t have to wait too long for their next success.”
The motivation is there, as both teenagers have turned their competitive eye to the league — with the senior women’s team already having, effectively, won the Division Two North title with no other team able to catch them on points.
They will be promoted to Division One as they continue to go from strength to strength with a young and talented side.
And the U16s lie third in the Premier Division of the U16 Girls Youth Championship, just two points off the top spot.
Ella, a pupil at Thomas Gainsborough School, said: “It’s been an amazing few months, it hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“We (Ella, Cameron, Esther Little and Nicole Aston) were still buzzing from the senior win so now, I’m not even sure how to react.
“This is my last year at U16 level so it’s just an amazing way to finish my time with the team.”
Cameron, who is also in her final year of playing for the U16s, said she was particularly emotional after securing the U16 National Cup.
“We were just leaping around, it was an amazing feeling,” she said.
“It made me very proud but it’s also really weird to think we’re national champions.
“We actually did it. We’re all really passionate about the game and want to win all the time, and we’ve really bonded as a team.
“It took a little while, but now we have we’re kind of unstoppable.”
Both young women were adamant they want more titles and trophies having tasted success.
“We want more National Cups,” Cameron said. “We want to defend the titles as a club.”
Ella, meanwhile, recognised the hard work and commitment of the coaches who helped the team to victory, with the U16s primarily coached by Hayley Rigby.
She said: “The coaches have been so important to us, it’s so good at the club and it makes us better players.
“We’re developing really well and I think that has a lot to do with them. But there’s also a lot of individual talent too.”