Hosts come up short in thriller

Leigh Greenan continued his return to fitness with a low-post masterclass (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich Basketball 80 – 82 USA Select
Copleston Sports Centre

Ipswich Basketball went down by two points in a nail-biting clash with USA Select at Copleston in front of a standing-room only crowd on Monday night.

A sell-out of nearly 400 fans packed the Copleston School sports hall to witness the touring Americans come back from behind to win in the final minutes of the game, but Ipswich provided the most of the entertainment, with a vintage performance from Leigh Greenan at the heart of it.

Greenan was unplayable for the visitors, finishing with 23 points and 7 rebounds in just 24 minutes of action as he continues to work his way back from surgery.

And the high-wire acts didn’t stop with Greenan – Luke Mascall-Wright, Caleb Fuller and Josh Apple all had above-the-rim plays to get the crowd on their feet.

“You’d have been hard pressed to tell if the American team was in red or blue tonight” – Nick Drane

Ipswich pounced on the visitors early, scoring seven unanswered points in the first 75 seconds. Despite struggling to get going from long range, the hosts maintained their advantage throughout the first half on the back of Greenan’s 13 first-half points and a steady supply of free throws from Mascall-Wright and Fuller, whose energy in attacking the rim was often too much for the guests to handle.

USA had scorers of their own, inevitably, and it was Jamil Huffman who kept them in the game. The bustling forward had 11 of his team-high 15 points in the first half, pacing an otherwise stuttering offense which was surprisingly happy to settle for outside jump shots.

Having led by four at half time, Ipswich then seemed to maintain that slender margin of lead for the next 16 minutes. They led by six with four minutes to go, when a Greenan slam forced USA into a time-out, but from there on the visitors took over, finishing the game on a 12-4 scoring run to seize the narrowest of victories.

Luke Mascall-Wright and his fellow wings took the game to the USA defense (Image: Pavel Kricka)
Luke Mascall-Wright and his fellow wings took the game to the USA defense (Image: Pavel Kricka)

After a USA turnover with 9.8 seconds to go, Ipswich still had two opportunities to tie the game or win it, but the first play was deflected out of bounds and, after a time-out, a buzzer-beater rattled out for outstanding forward Colin Dockrell.

“I’m incredibly proud of the effort our guys put in today, and the display that we put on for the many, many people who turned out to watch us,” said head coach Nick Drane after the game.

“That’s a difficult loss to take, but at the end of the day it’s a pre-season friendly, so with that last time-out we decided to go for the win. Colin’s productivity tonight was an absolute lesson to the youngsters on our bench of how to play your role, and he knows I fully trust him to hit a shot next time we call his number.

“Looking at the talent level and athleticism on display from both sides, you’d have been hard pressed to tell if the American team was in red or blue tonight. For three and a half quarters we did a great job of playing to our advantages.”

Following on from the capacity crowd on Monday night, Ipswich will be hoping to capitalise on the successful evening when their next home game rolls around on September 24th.

“Our energy level tonight was fantastic, and we fed off this amazing crowd – it’s brilliant to see so many people in here, and just shows what we could do given a larger facility,” Drane enthused. “The ticket desk were literally having to turn people away because there was nowhere left for them to stand.”

Greenan’s game-high 23 points and 8 rebounds were supported for Ipswich by Mascall-Wright (17 pts, 8 reb), Fuller (12 pts, 5 ast), Apple (10 pts, 8 reb) and Tom Sadler (9 pts, 6 reb). USA ended with a balanced scoring effort, Huffman’s 15 followed by 14 from Sims and 12 from Anderson.

For more pictures of Ipswich Basketball v USA Select, please check out tomorrow’s East Anglian Daily Press and Ipswich Evening Star.

Ipswich Basketball can't wait to see all these fans back for our next home fixture: September 24th
Ipswich Basketball can’t wait to see all these fans back for our next home fixture: September 24th, 5pm tip