Bobcats triumph - as if by Magic

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Ipswich Bobcats progressed to the semi finals of the Women's National Trophy with a scintillating second half display to overcome Brighton Magic 93-46 when the sides met at Maidenhall on Saturday.

Ipswich Bobcats progressed to the semi finals of the Women's National Trophy with a scintillating second half display to overcome Brighton Magic 93-46 when the sides met at Maidenhall on Saturday.

Brighton, unbeaten in the southern section of National League Division Two, initially provided stern opposition when early baskets from Vanessa Calafat-Westcott gave the visitors a 10-8 lead midway through the first quarter.

Bobcats fought back with baskets from Kirsty Clark and Kayleigh Read to lead 16-10, but veteran guard Sadie Mason, returning to play in England after a spell in Scotland, scored three haracteristic lay ups in the closing stages to tie the scores at 18-18 at the end of the quarter.

Brighton edged to a three point lead when Jo Raper combined with Lynne Powell at the restart but two baskets from Helen Wood and a three point play from Laura Shemming took Bobcats to a narrow 35-30 lead at the interval.

Ipswich coach Elaine Miller's half time team talk called for Bobcats to show greater belief, and Shemming responded by giving a true captain's display, lifting the tie by the scruff of the neck to lead a Bobcats onslaught in a third quarter performance which was to put the game beyond Brighton's reach.

Shemming scored the opening two baskets of the third quarter before Catherine McLean added 6 points with a basket, a three-pointer and a converted free throw after being fouled by Mason. Shemming added a further basket to extend the Ipswich streak to twelve points and Bobcats maintained a total shutout before Raper scored Magic's first points of the quarter from the free throw line as late as the seventh minute.

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In a game where the guards dominated the offence, Bobcats' American Jessica Gray made her major contribution in defence, making no less than 11 blocked shots and taking an incredible 21 defensive rebounds. Her domination inside the key was an important factor as Brighton failed to score a field goal in the third quarter until the ninth minute, by which time Read's third three-pointer of the match had given Ipswich a commanding 56-35 lead.

Bobcats piled on the pressure to add 10 points in the last two minutes to leave Brighton reeling after a 31-9 quarter that had given Ipswich a 66-39 lead. Coaches Elaine Miller and Karen Read took the opportunity to introduce their bench players in the final quarter, but this provided little respite to Brighton as baskets from Emma Bass and Kirsty Banns extended the lead to 79-42 mid way through the period.

Six points in the sixth minute from Shemming brought her personal tally to a game high 25 points, and her 10 offensive rebounds and 5 assists illustrate the major effect she had on Bobcats sensational offensive display.

Miller eventually substituted the entire starting five, but the bench players continued to dominate the Brighton defence, with Charlotte Dunne impressing in the point guard position and scoring five points, all from the free throw line. Brighton Coach Phil Waghorn vented his frustration to earn nothing but a technical foul as the match came to a close, and could do little to stop a rampant Bobcats side dominating the match to seal a fine 93-46 victory.

Bobcats return to league action on Saturday when they travel the West Midlands to face Birmingham Force in a crucial National League Division Two (North) encounter.

Birmingham Force are unbeaten in this year's competition, and their impressive 82-66 over leaders Tyne & Wear Northumbria at the weekend makes their promotion credentials clear. Bobcats will be keen to secure a victory that would take them to the top of the table in a match that will go a long way in determining the final outcome of National League Division Two (North). The match tips off at 3.00 p.m.

Ipswich Bobcats players and scorers:

L Shemming 25, K Read 23, J Gray 12, K Clark 10, H Wood 7, C McLean 6, C Dunne 5,

K Banns 3, E Bass 2, K Button 0

Brighton Magic players and scorers:

S Mason 10, V Calafat-Wescott 9, J Raper 7, J Herdia 6, L Waghorn 6, L Powell 4,

S Steel 4, C Rourke 0, A Warren 0