Ipswich lose out in cup Cat-fight

BASKETBALL: Ipswich Bobcats came close to knocking Nottingham Wildcats out of the Women's National Cup when their brave fight ended in defeat in a second round match at Maidenhall.

Ipswich Bobcats came close to knocking Nottingham Wildcats out of the Women's National Cup when their brave fight ended in defeat in a second round match at Maidenhall.

Nottingham at first appeared to be much better prepared as baskets from Sharon Inchley, Natalia Marshall and Julie Page gave the visitors an early 6-0 lead, forcing Bobcats coach Elaine Miller to call third minute time out.

Jessica Gray was then successful with an uncharacteristic three point attempt to prevent a 24 second shot clock violation, and a basket from the determined Kirsty Clark gave Bobcats an 11-8 lead.

Inchley hit back with two quick baskets for Wildcats, but a corner shot from the impressive Claire Brown and two more baskets from Clark, saw the resurgent Bobcats take an incredible 19-14 lead at the end of the quarter.

Nottingham, among the leaders in Division One with an unbeaten record this season, featured former Bobcats Zoe Kaznica and Louise Gamman in their line up, and both players came off the bench in a keenly contested quarter.

Page took full advantage of the space afforded her outside the key and her two quick baskets were soon followed by a three-pointer and a lay up by Marshall as Nottingham stormed back to lead 24-23 midway through the quarter.

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Clark then suffered an ankle injury, which was to sideline her for the rest of the quarter, but Gray stepped up her game to dominate at both ends of the court, scoring eight successive points as Ipswich rallied to take a 31-28 lead a minute before half time.

Page was on hand to score a mid range shot and two late baskets from Emma Pass took Wildcats three points ahead, but Gray scored again in the closing seconds to keep the match on a knife edge with Bobcats trailing just 33-34

Jo Sarjant scored the opening basket of the third quarter to extend her side's lead to three points. Bobcats fought back with a basket by Gray and a long range effort from Helen Wood, but Nottingham's inside strength was becoming too much.

Kelli McHugh, one of a host of England internationals in the Nottingham side, scored off a characteristic drive and a trademark turn and shoot by Inchley saw Wildcats take a


Bobcats clawed back four points through baskets by Shemming and Read to trail just 44-47 going into the final quarter.

Gray, Shemming and Read had not been substituted once throughout the match, and summoned incredible energy reserves to raise their game still further in an exciting and dramatic final quarter.

Marshall, Inchley and Sarjant added three baskets in as many minutes to give Wildcats the cushion of a 53-46 lead with seven minutes to play.

Miller was forced to use one of her time outs, and it had the desired effect when Bobcats raised their defence to deny Wildcats for the next three minutes, during which Gray, Shemming and the recovered Clark scored seven points to tie the scores at 53-53.Now it was Karen Burton's turn to call a time out, and with the Nottingham player/coach still reeling after picking up four quick fouls to foul out of the game in the fourth minute she did well to settle her side, who responded with baskets from McHugh and Inchley to take a 58-53 lead.

Bobcats refused to give in and a basket from Brown was followed by a crucial three-pointer from Read as Bobcats reduced the deficit to 59-62 with two minutes remaining.

A basket from Page eased Nottingham's nerves, but Gray's sheer determination saw her score another basket to bring her personal tally to a game high 28 points, and her 26 rebounds and eight blocks against quality opposition must rank this as her best ever performance is Bobcats vest.

Trailing 62-64 going into the final minute, Bobcats needed to foul Nottingham to try to regain possession, and the visitors profited with six points from the free throw line to close out a victory in what had been a very hard fought and skilful match, belying Bobcats' Second Division status.

On Saturday Bobcats return to National League action when they travel to Yorkshire to face Sheffield Hallam Hatters in another Division Two (North) encounter. The match will be played at the Sheffield In Line Skating Centre and tips off at 4pm.

Ipswich Bobcats players and scorers:

J Gray 28, L Shemming 11, K Read 10, K Clark 7, C Brown 4, H Wood 2, E Bass 0, N Field 0, K Miller 0, H Webber 0

Women's National Cup Round Two results:

Doncaster 0 Sheffield 83, London Towers 61 Brighton 51, Oxford 54 Birmingham Force 81, Plymouth 56 Spelthorne 76, Tyne & Wear 65 Wandsworth 67, Rhondda 88 UWIC Cardiff 56, Thames Valley 85 NW London 39

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