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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


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.”

Two Ipswich Town stars will be looking to take a big step towards this summer’s World Cup over the next week while a host of younger players look to further their international careers.

Juventus goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has been impressed by Ipswich stopper Bartosz Bialkowski following his first call-up to the Polish national team.

Luton boss Nathan Jones is disappointed to lose the services of midfielder Flynn Downes due to international duty but is pleased to see the Ipswich Town youngster continue his development with England Under 19s.

Fighting for a place in England’s World Cup squad might be tough work for Burnley’s Nick Pope but it beats riding a milk float in the early hours of the morning.

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Michael Crowe was taken by surprise when he found out he had been called up for international duty, but is determined to learn as much as he can while away with the Wales squad.

Ipswich Town fans want to see young defender Josh Emmanuel given his chance in the first team next season.

Ipswich Town manager Mick McCarthy says Josh Emmanuel may be sent out on loan again next season.

Ipswich Town captain Luke Chambers hopes striker David McGoldrick has not played his last game for the club.

Season ticket prices, whether we’ll hear from owner Marcus Evans and manager Mick McCarthy’s future are the three big questions as Ipswich Town head into a two-week international break.

Did you hear about the Mick McCarthy press conference? He walked into the room, sat down, and apologised profusely to the loyal fans of Ipswich Town, writes Northstander Terry Hunt.

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