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Something special is brewing at Ipswich Basketball Club... and it’s been four years in the making

PUBLISHED: 10:13 20 December 2017 | UPDATED: 10:33 20 December 2017

Esther Little gets into the key to make a layup as Ipswich beat Bristol to reach the National Cup final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Esther Little gets into the key to make a layup as Ipswich beat Bristol to reach the National Cup final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Pavel.Kricka@btinternet.com

Ipswich Basketball Club’s senior women are enjoying a stunning run of success which has been four years in the making.

Ipswich head coach Nick Drane gives instructions to his team during a time-out. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich head coach Nick Drane gives instructions to his team during a time-out. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

In their first season since reforming, the Copleston-based side have stormed their way into the National Cup final, beating the odds along the way with three impressive victories away at higher division teams. They also lead Division Two with a perfect 8-0 record - all with a team with an average age of just 17.

While the team only came together this season, the side is made entirely of players who have progressed through the club’s youth system, bringing together a plan which has been in the pipeline for some time.

“This group of girls have all been through our academy at Copleston and every single one is a product of our junior programme,” head coach Nick Drane said. “They may have never all been on the same team but they are all the product of the same pathway.

“They are the best ever example of the pathway we have at Ipswich but we just had to wait for them all to be old enough to be in the same age-group because some of them are just 14 years old, which is one of the most ridiculous things. The average age is only 17 and that’s what makes it so special.

“It’s caught a lot of people by surprise, just how successful we’ve been, and to beat three top teams away from home to reach a National Cup final in their first competitive season is very special.”

Ipswich now face Essex in the final on January 21 and, while the two sides are worlds apart in terms of philosophy and funding, Drane sees no reason why his young side can’t beat the odds once again.

“This is an example of the two different ways a programme can be successfully run,” he said.

“We are run by volunteers and develop our own players from the ground up through one programme. We are funded by summer barbecues and quiz nights.

“Essex is a university programme with a big budget, scholarships and players from all over Europe. They even have an American who has played at the professional level.

“There is no right our wrong way of doing it, though.

“They are top of Division One, we are top of Division Two and they are expected to beat us, but nobody has beaten us yet.

“I’m sure Essex will have a few moments when they fear this Ipswich team.”

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