Lions tamed by Ipswich’s young bucks

Joshua Apple finished with 17 points in under 22 minutes (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich Basketball 83-58 Chelmsford Lions
National Cup Second Round
Copleston Sports Centre

A commanding second-half by Ipswich saw off the determined challenge of Division IV side Chelmsford Lions in the second round of the Basketball England National Cup.

Caleb Fuller had a game-high 19 points and a highlight-reel late dunk, Joshua Apple produced a tremendous second-half performance with his outstanding rebounding and athleticism, and Ipswich pulled away in the second half en route to a 25-point victory.

A close first half saw Chelmsford stay in the game by bringing down repeated offensive rebounds. Despite taking 13 more shots than their hosts in the first time, the Lions were unable to connect regularly at the rim thanks to the interior defence of Leigh Greenan, who had two blooks in the first quarter, Tom Sadler and Colin Dockrell.

Chelmsford, featuring former Ipswich player of the year Joe Matthews, trailed by only five points at half time as they connected on five three-pointers in the first half. The visitors led by as many as nine mid-way through the second period following a 15-1 scoring run, but Ipswich responded with an 18-4 run of their own before half-time, built on a solid defensive platform and more aggressive offense, getting repeatedly to the free-throw line.

With a half-time lead of 39-34, Ipswich’s defence dialled up after the break, and with Academy stars Fuller and Apple regularly hitting the offensive glass the hosts improved their offensive production, too.

Ipswich were also more successful after half time in limiting turnovers. Edson Ferreira was at his efficient best with six assists and no turnovers, and the team as a whole had just six in the half, while forcing 14 from Chelmsford.

In the fourth quarter, Fuller and Apple were irrepressible, combining for 19 points and leading the hosts’ costing pressing as Ipswich won the final period 25-10.

You really need to look out for our highlights video this week! (Image: Pavel Kricka)
You really need to look out for our highlights video this week! (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Following the game, Ipswich’s last cup fixture before the regular season gets underway on October 15th, Nick Drane was satisfied with his team’s improvement over the course of the game but quick to highlight that better is to come.

“We have shown two sides to our game today,” he said. “Throughout the second half, we were very strong in achieving the things we look to do on the court – we got easy points on the break, we forced errors from them with our defence, and our half-court offense was efficient.

“In the first half, we let them dictate the pace a lot and played at their speed. That’s so dangerous – every team has their own style and approach to the game, and if you try to beat the other team at their own game, you’re usually on a hiding to nothing.

“We were fortunate we had big Leigh out there in the first half – without his 11 points, and that run to end the half, we’d have been in a real hole at the break.

“But we also showed the strength of our character – that’s a really decent, savvy Chelmsford side, who came in here and probably out-worked us in the first half, and my guys rose to the challenge and shut them down pretty effectively in the end.

“Josh and Caleb just make the game so fun to watch sometimes – I’m already looking forward to putting the highlights of this one together!”

Ipswich are not in action next weekend, but the club are turning out in force at the Peninsula Triathlon at Royal Hospital School in Holbrook. Their next game is Saturday, October 15th, as Derbyshire Arrows come to Copleston for the Division II season opener. (3pm tip-off).