Sudbury girls play part in basketball history
Ipswich Basketball Club this weekend won the treble to wrap up an unbeaten season in Division Two of the NBL, with two Sudbury youngsters involved.
Ella Pearson and Cameron Taylor Willis came off the bench in Sunday’s Division Two National play-off final against the Derbyshire Gems, helping to beat them by a comprehensive 96-55 scoreline.
The 15-year-olds have also been crucial to the success of the U16 girls team, who themselves have reached the U16 National play-off final, to be contested this weekend.
Coach Nick Drane has waxed lyrical about the talents of the squad, and the pride Suffolk should feel in their successes.
He 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.
“They also show the right attitude to training and to the sport.
“This is the best team I’ve ever coached and I’ve been doing this full time for 17 years.
“They’re all girls that have come through our system and we’ve taught how to play. That’s very satisfying.”
Pearson and Taylor Willis have been heavily involved in Ipswich Women’s historic season, with both the U16 and senior squads.
They were first part of the senior squad that took an unexpected victory in the National Cup final in January, beating several Division One teams along the way.
They have also secured an impressive promotion to Division One, the top level in the NBL, as they completed the Division Two North season unbeaten to take the league title.
And success in Sunday’s national play-off, to determine the best Division Two side across all regions, saw them finish the season with their third trophy as they were crowned Division Two Women’s play-off champions.
Meanwhile, the two players were key to the U16 girls mirroring the National Cup success and will star in this weekend’s return to the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester for the U16 play-off finals.
They will hope for a repeat performance of the commanding defeat of North Division rivals Derbyshire Gems, but will have to do it without the help of Division Two’s Most Valuable Player Harriet Welham, who filled the stat-sheet with 33 points on Saturday.
Ipswich started as they meant to go on, racing out to a 13-3 lead that was capped by Welham’s first triple of the game.
Gems’ guard Steph Ogdon managed to get her side going but Ipswich hit straight back to quell any momentum and head to quarter time up 25-12.
The Gems had few answers to their opponents’ pressure on defence, and with slick ball movement and telling penetration on the drive, Ipswich’s lead kept rising as they finished at the halfway point on 56-25, before extending their lead to 74-41 at the end of the third period.
Although they continued to fight, Derbyshire were powerless to resist as the game wore on as Ipswich claimed a 96-55 victory to end the season.
Drane said: “We’ll look to build towards being a strong side in Division One next season too.
“But we’re going to enjoy and worry about next season in a few weeks.”