For the first time in Youngbloods’ history, Youngbloods Under 14 Girls played their way to the quarter-finals against Ipswich. The teams walked onto the court poised to play what would be a thrilling and closely fought game.
Ipswich won the tip-off and went on to score the first basket of the game and getting fouled in the process sending the away team to the free throw line in the early seconds of the game. Youngbloods tried to answer back immediately but missed their first attempt at the basket. With Ipswich rebounding and moved quickly in transition and scoring at the other end to give Ipswich a 5 point lead early on and confidence that this was going to be the day. Ines Goryanova got to the basket to help Youngbloods settle their nerves, Ipswich scored on their offence and were fouled resulting in a trip to the free throw line. Coach Caroline Charles called a timeout to get the team to settle and to remember and execute what they had been doing in training. The timeout had its desired effect as Ines, Fatima and Tinu had a run of points that gave Youngbloods the lead by 1 point. After that fighting spirit shown by the home side, both sides began to trade baskets back and forth. Anais Campbell came on court and straight away intercepted a pass and she drove to the basket only to be fouled. This encouraged the girls to keep the pressure on in defence and at the end of the first quarter, Youngblood’s had the lead by two points. 22-20
The second and third quarters saw both teams trading basket for basket with Youngblood’s keeping the tiniest lead of one point going into the fourth quarter. End of the second quarter; 36-34. End of the third quarter; 52-51.
The play from both sides was aggressive and Youngblood’s managed to claim a large percentage of the offensive rebounds, even though they were outsized. The girls started to shoot from the outside as the taller Ipswich held their positions and owned the key making it pretty hard to get to the basket, but the Cubs started to drop their shots in and with Ines making a 3 point shot sent the home team supporters into raptures as the girls started to sense that their end of season target was there for the taking, they just had to remain calm for the last 3 minutes of the game. As time began to run out Youngbloods applied extra pressure to the tiring Ipswich team, making them work to get the ball across the court, and resulting in a number of fouls and turnovers. The pressure was maintained and Youngbloods pulled ahead and although Ipswich worked hard to pull the game back in their favour the clock ran out and assure Youngblood’s u14 girls of the Final Four spot. Final score Youngbloods 77-70 Ipswich.
Coach Caroline Charles commented after the game “Wow! What a game! The girls have wanted this moment from the beginning of the season. The start of the season was terrible for us and our first game was a loss because of loss of venue, after that negative the girls just knuckled down and everything I asked of them they have produced. Now we have a new goal! We now need to get our heads down again and get the team ready for the 5th & 6th of May in Manchester.”