The City of London Academy (CoLA) Southwark Pride won the women’s under-18 Sure Shot National Cup final, comprehensively defeating Ipswich 68-41 to claim the title on Saturday.
The sides were justifiably confident heading into the final, with both teams enjoying victories in their recent meetings on the court.
Ipswich, who were the National Cup reigning champions, had overcome Southwark Pride in last season’s WNBL Division Playoff Final last May, whilst Southwark had swatted Ipswich aside 60-48 in their only meeting so far this season.
Before the game, Southwark Pride’s Emily O’Connell spoke about what the personal significance of a title win would mean to a group of girls preparing to part ways at the end of the season.
She said: ‘We are a close group of girls and this season together will be out last, so we are hoping to end things the right way.’
Emily’s sentiment drove her to a memorable, match-defining performance and she was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal to her name.
After the game, Emily emphasised the season wasn’t over yet, and the team still had work to do in maintaining their national dominance.
Coach Jackson Gibbons, who won the coach of the year in 2020/21, said after the game: ‘I’m so proud of the girls, they’re so invested, it was a mature performance today, they were locked in.’
Coach Gibbons also paid testament to a strong Ipswich side, whilst reiterating Southwark Pride’s mantra that ‘defence wins championships.’
Defence did indeed prove to be the backbone of what was a remarkably assured performance by Pride, which was evident in Ipswich’s inability to register more than 11 points in any given quarter.
On the attack, Pride rewarded their defensive efforts with Isi Ozzy-Momodu putting together 22 points and 21 rebounds and Molly Lavin amassing 17 points and 17 rebounds.
Southwark Pride’s Coach David articulated the wider success of a team whose attitude off the court is just as important as it is on the court.
He said: ‘We don’t give up, we don’t stop, we don’t take our foot off the pedal, and it’s something we want to do in life, not just on the court.’