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Welham hits a clutch shot to send Ipswich to National Cup Final

Ipswich star Harriet Welham celebrates as they reach the National Cup Final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich star Harriet Welham celebrates as they reach the National Cup Final. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Pavel.Kricka@btinternet.com

Women’s National Cup semi-final

Bristol Flyers 72

Ipswich 74

Ipswich Basketball Club’s Senior Women booked their place in the National Cup Final in their first season together as they beat higher league Bristol Flyers 74-72 on the road.

Ipswich celebrate as the final buzzer goes at Bristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich celebrate as the final buzzer goes at Bristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Bristol had the better of the first quarter, with Ipswich starters Ashleigh Pink and Harriet Welham both having to take an early seat due to foul trouble. The host capitalized, taking a 23-17 lead.

The second quarter was Ipswich’s best, and where the team was able to assert their dominance on the game. A balanced attack, with baskets from Welham, Esther Little (14 points), Amy Linton and Pink (14) was aided by an outstanding defensive effort, allowing only seven points in the period.

Ipswich guard Ashleigh Pink attacks the Flyers defence from mid court. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich guard Ashleigh Pink attacks the Flyers defence from mid court. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Anchored by the physical presence of Maya Price and the efforts of Danni Cazey, guarding Bristol’s best player, Ipswich began to build their lead – taking a 38-31 lead into the half-time break.

The third and fourth quarters were intense, with Bristol gradually clawing their way back into the game, and both teams making key plays at both ends of the floor.

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

Welham, who led Ipswich with 23 points, continued to be a thorn in the hosts side, while Danni Cazey came alive, scoring eight points in a key fourth quarter run.

Late in the game, with Bristol holding a narrow lead, Little, Welham and Cazey connected on huge baskets, while Price came up with a massive defensive play to give Ipswich possession, with the game tied, with less than 20 seconds to play.

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As Ipswich played patiently, moving the ball to get the best shot for the team, Welham found herself open on the three-point line.

Welham connected on the biggest shot of the game, with the clock winding down and while Bristol were able to mount one more offence, drawing a foul and heading to the free-throw line, they were only able to make one of two, and Ipswich held on.

Esther Little gets into the key to make a layup against tough defence at Bristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Esther Little gets into the key to make a layup against tough defence at Bristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ipswich face local rivals Essex in the National Cup Final at UEL on January 21. Essex are currently sitting comfortably at the top of WNBL Division One, with a record of 11-1 (8-1 in the league) in all competitions, while Ipswich are 8-0. Essex’s single loss of the season to date was away to Bristol.

Head coach Nick Drane said: “To get to the National Cup Final is special, I am not going to pretend it isn’t.

Ipswich captain Amy Linton making a fast break lay up atBristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA Ipswich captain Amy Linton making a fast break lay up atBristol. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

“We have had to do this the hard way, going through a tough Division Two team in Northampton before having to beat three excellent Division One teams, in Loughborough, Reading and now Bristol, all away from home.

“We said at the start of the season that the cup would be a great way to test ourselves against the best teams and make a run at doing something special – we know it’s going to take a special effort in the final against Essex Blades, but we are more than up for the challenge.”

Hosting a barbeque or grabbing a cool pint in the local pub for the England game tomorrow? Check here to see how warm it will be where you are.

Thousands of the region’s bravest swimmers donned their wetsuits and took the plunge at the Great East Swim when it returned to Suffolk today.

A special baton relay will arrive on the Suffolk coast on Monday as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the formation of the RAF.

Essex Police says it is “very concerned” for the welfare of two missing young people – who are believed to be together in the Colchester area.

Shoppers have expressed shock after plans to shut to a “struggling” East of England Co-op store in Ipswich were announced.

Four people arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the death of a man in Chelmsford yesterday have been released.

From a tribute music festival to a muddy obstacle course – there are plenty of events for people to enjoy across Suffolk and north Essex this weekend.

Thousands of runners dressed in pink are expected to descend on Trinity Park near Ipswich this weekend to play their part in the fight against cancer.

The coast of California USA and Fore Street, Ipswich swimming pool are worlds apart in several ways, but for former Ipswich lady, Karen Quezada, nee Spanner, who now lives in California, the little Victorian built pool in Ipswich holds a special place in her heart.

Rail services between Ipswich and Cambridge are returning to normal after a freight train broke down at Bury St Edmunds this morning.

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