Bobcats savage rivals

BASKETBALL: Ipswich Bobcats 73 Tyne & Wear 44. Ipswich Bobcats secured a place in the final of the Women's National Trophy with a convincing 73-44 victory over Tyne & Wear Northumbria at Maidenhall.

Ipswich Bobcats 73 Tyne & Wear 44

Ipswich Bobcats secured a place in the final of the Women's National Trophy with a convincing 73-44 victory over Tyne & Wear Northumbria at Maidenhall.

Tyne & Wear entered the match as leaders of National League Division Two North and had progressed to the semi-finals with an emphatic victory over Birmingham Force in the quarter-finals a week earlier.

They had already beaten Bobcats in the league at the start of the season, so Ipswich coach Elaine Miller was well aware that her side would need to be on top form if they were to progress to the final.

There were no signs of Bobcats' recent blip in form as they stormed to an 11-0 lead inside the opening minute.

Kirsty Clark hit a big three-pointer and captain Laura Shemming made two three-point plays after drawing fouls from former Bobcat Becky Davis.

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Bobcats' full court press fully tested Tyne & Wear, forcing the visitors into repeated turnovers and enabling Helen Wood to quickly extend the lead to 13-0.

Tyne & Wear coach Deirdre Hayes vented her frustrations to earn an early technical foul, and Bobcats scored from the resultant free throws and sideline possession to take a commanding 18-2 lead after just four minutes.

Ipswich maintained the pressure and baskets from Jessica Gray and Line Brodie took Bobcats further ahead to lead 26-5 at the end of the first quarter.

Tyne & Wear started a fightback at the restart as Elin Carlsson, Taacha Brown and experienced captain Pauline Frampton all got on the scoresheet to reduce the deficit to 28-12.

Shemming's determined inside play made it impossible for Tyne & Wear to defend her. And a fourth minute foul by Frampton marked the start of another period of Ipswich domination, during which Shemming combined well with Gray and Catherine McLean as Bobcats outscored Tyne & Wear 17-4 to open up a 45-16 lead by the interval.

Miller took advantage of the cushion to give an extended run to Kirsty Banns in the third quarter.

And her three baskets from only five attempts against experienced opponents reflected the progress the junior has made playing with the senior team this season.

Bobcats totally dominated the third quarter and baskets from Emma Bass and Hannah Webber ensured every Ipswich player would feature on the score sheet.

Jessica Gray dominated on defence, notching up a total of nine blocked shots before being rested to prevent any adverse reaction to the ankle injury she picked up at Derby a fortnight earlier.

Two consolation baskets from the impressive American Taacha Brown were all that a demoralised Tyne & Wear could muster as Bobcats stormed to an unassailable 63-20 lead as the match went into the final quarter.

With points difference counting for nothing in this knockout competition, Ipswich were able to relax in the final period, and the starting five spent most of the quarter on the bench.

It was inevitable that Tyne & Wear would be able to narrow the gap in the closing stages.

But Bobcats knew they had done all the hard work in the first three quarters and they clinched a comfortable 73-44 victory and a psychological advantage for when the sides meet again in the league in a fortnight.

Shemming's contribution of 21 points, 15 rebounds, ten steals and five assists clearly underlined her all-round performance.

And Bobcats' performance demonstrated their determination to add silverware to the trophy cabinet when they face Stockport in the Trophy final later this month, after the Cheshire side secured a surprise 64-61 at Plymouth in the other semi-final.

Bobcats return to action on March 16 when they again face Tyne & Wear in the National League. The match will be played at Northgate Sports Centre, tipping off at the earlier time of 2.30pm.

The cadet side have an important fixture next Saturday when they travel to South Yorkshire to face Doncaster in the semi-finals of the Sure Shot Cadet National Cup (3pm).

Ipswich Bobcats players and scorers: L Shemming 21, K Clark 11, J Gray 11, K Read 8, K Banns 6, H Wood 6, L Brodie 4, C McLean 2, E Bass 2, H Webber 2.

Tyne & Wear Northumbria players and scorers: T Brown 21, E Carlsson 14, P Frampton 4, E Lawrence 4, D MacLennan 1, B Davis 0, J Murray 0.