Narrow defeat in Patrons Cup opener

Luke Mascall-Wright led the way for a short-handed Ipswich with 22 points (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Kent Crusaders 70 – 66 Ipswich Basketball
Patrons Cup
Brompton Academy, Canterbury

Ipswich nearly pulled off an impressive second half comeback, coming up just short in defeat to Kent Crusaders, who were relegated from NBL Division One last season.

Ipswich were without Head Coach Nick Drane, who was serving the second of a two game suspension that, due break between the two seasons, felt like a much longer ban. The team were also missing their on court leader Tom Sadler, who continues to nurse injuries sustained in the off-season. In addition, Colin Dockrell was also absent.

Kent started the game the better of the two teams, jumping out to a 10-2 lead before Ipswich brought things back to 10-9. Throughout the first quarter things were nip and tuck with Kent eventually taking a 24-20 lead into the interval – a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

In the second, after Ipswich initially closed the gap, Kent extended their lead. Luke Mascall-Wright was keeping the Suffolk side within touching distance, collecting 14 in the first half, but the hosts extended their lead to 45-33 at the interval.

The third quarter saw Ipswich bring things back within 6 almost straight away with Leigh Greenan asserting himself, while Edson Ferreira connected on consecutive three pointers as the momentum swung Ipswich’s way. However, Kent extended their lead with a late run. After three Kent led 56-46.

In the fourth Ipswich did all they could to bring the game back. Some excellent defence brought things back within a point with less than two to play but a key turnover cost the visitors the chance to take the lead and when Ferreira picked up his fifth foul, the host were able to wrap things up from the free throw line, winning 70-66.

Without Drane available, Ipswich’s head coach for the day was John Ellis, who is in his second season as senior assistant coach. “I now understand even more why Coach gets so stressed,” said Ellis post-game.  “I’m not a ‘bad loser’, but I don’t take losing well, and I won’t get much sleep tonight after coming so close today.”

Watching from the stands, Drane added: “We were without myself today, which is my own fault and without Tom’s savvy and leadership we were lacking some chemistry for periods of the game. But overall, there are some major positives to take away and we should feel optimistic about the season ahead. The Patrons Cup is a great pre-season exercise and I think we will be in great shape when the league season starts in three weeks.”

Ipswich host London Pioneers next Saturday, tipping off at 5pm at Copleston. A big crowd is expected for the team’s first competitive home game of the season.

Top scorers: Mascall-Wright 22, Ferreira 13, Daniel Caliuco & Greenan both 10 points & 10 rebounds.