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Little reaches massive final

BIG ACHIEVEMENT: Esther Little (inset) and her team-mates celebrate one of their cup victories PICTURES: Pavel Kricka
BIG ACHIEVEMENT: Esther Little (inset) and her team-mates celebrate one of their cup victories PICTURES: Pavel Kricka

Just 16 years old and already on the cusp of making history: Esther Little has a bright and exciting future.

The Ixworth youth has been integral to the seemingly unstoppable Ipswich Basketball Club women’s team, who remain unbeaten in all competitions this season.

And that includes the prestigious National Cup, with the current leaders of the English Women’s Basketball League (EBL) Division Two North progressing through to this weekend’s final for the first time in the their history.

The Thurston Community College pupil’s potential has long been known, and she is now an old hat with the England youth squads having trained with the set-up for the past three years.

Little, who is in her first season with the senior squad, has been tipped for the top by former coach and now team-mate Amy Linton.

And she quickly showed why, not needing long to find her stride in the women’s game, contributing key performances to help the team to the final.

They will face Essex (Blades) at the University of East London on Sunday (1pm) in a meeting that has already sold out.

It is understood the game will also be live streamed.

Little knows it will not be easy against a side who currently lead Division One of the EBL, suffering just one defeat so far.

But Ipswich will be heartened to know that it was Bristol Flyers —the team Little and her team-mates narrowly beat 74-72 in the National Cup semi-final — who inflicted that loss.

She said: “It’s been an amazing season and to be unbeaten is just unheard of, especially as we’ve beaten three teams at the level above us to reach the cup final.

“Winning would make history.

“And from a personal perspective it’s up there with the biggest things I’ve done, if not my biggest achievement so far.

“It’s such a great feeling. I used to be a swimmer and that’s a very solo sport but basketball is the exact opposite — and I love the team spirit, it makes it so much more enjoyable to win together.

“It makes it even more special when there’s teammates to celebrate with.

“We’ve really spurred each other on this season and worked together to improve too — we’re a really good team.”

She said it was also ‘fantastic’ to be helping to raise the profile of women’s basketball in the area with the team’s successes so far.

Little added: “It’s not the biggest sport but it’s getting bigger and it’s easier to get people interested in a team that’s winning. I think we are raising the profile of the sport.

“On Sunday, the atmosphere is going to be amazing, I think there’s going to be over 100 people there to support us, maybe even more.

“I guess it makes me a bit more nervous but I’m really nervous anyway.

“And how we, as a team, handle those nerves is going to be really important on the day.

“Nerves tends to bring me down to begin with but then I get hyped up and get better, but hopefully we can get going early and show what we’re capable of.”

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