Arrows to the heart

Luke Mascall-Wright got to the basket at will for large parts of the game, as well as shooting 40% from 3pt range (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich Basketball 77-78 Derbyshire Arrows
National League Division II
Copleston Sports Centre

Ipswich Basketball’s Division II campaign suffered the cruellest of starts as visitors Derbyshire Arrows scored a buzzer-beating three-point shot to snatch victory.

In a back-and-forth final period, Ipswich trailed by as many as three on multiple occasions, but turned that deficit into a lead in the final minute behind some clutch shooting by Luke Mascall-Wright and a huge defensive position by Daniel Caluico. The hosts therefore led with seconds remaining, a Tom Sadler free-throw putting them up 77-75 with under 13 seconds to play.

Mascall-Wright secured the rebound from Sadler’s second free throw, forcing Arrows to foul Sadler again with five seconds left. The veteran has come through in this situation for Ipswich before, but he uncharacteristically missed both free throws and the resulting rebound provided Derby one last chance at the Ipswich basket.

The rebound fell to the Arrows’ John Broodie, who went coast to coast in the remaining seconds and launched a shot from six feet outside the three-point line as time expired – it banked off the backboard and dropped, giving the Arrows the most dramatic of victories. That was Broodie’s only three-point attempt of the game.

Ipswich had started confidently, Sadler scoring six early points as Ipswich ran out to an early 12-6 advantage, before finishing the quarter 21-14 ahead.

Nick Drane’s men extended that lead to 33-18 in the opening minutes of the second, behind eight straight points from Mascall-Wright, but Derby have a reputation as irrepressible battlers and the visitors knuckled down to reduce the deficit all the way to a single point at half-time, 40-39.

The third period was a very low-scoring affair until the last couple of minutes, where following a 7-0 Derby run Caleb Fuller scored five straight points as Ipswich went into the final period 56-52 ahead.

The teams traded the lead throughout the fourth, as another huge Copleston crowd witnessed a hugely intense contest between Daniel Caluico and Arrows star Joseph Baugh.

Baugh’s shooting was matched by the collective efforts of Mascall-Wright, Sadler and Caluico at the other end, but Ipswich paid a heavy price for making two of their final eight free throw attempts in a nail-biting finish.

“Today is one of the most difficult defeats I’ve ever had to stomach,” said head coach Nick Drane post-game. “We’ve been up by as many as 14 or 16, I think, and been clawed back; run up more leads, and been clawed back; ended up chasing the game, got into a winning position, and lost to a prayer at the final buzzer.

“That’s three losses to Derbyshire Arrows this season and last, all by two points or less.

“What I find particularly worrying is that last season it took us a long time to get out of the habit of losing these tight games, and I really don’t want to see that trend re-appearing.”

Drane reserved praise for the spirit shown by his visitors, who were led in scoring by Baugh’s

“You have to give major credit to Arrows, they play with a level of competitiveness and togetherness that we can only aspire to at the moment.

“They’re scrappy and gritty and they do whatever it takes to win.”

Mascall-Wright led Ipswich in scoring with a game-high 29 points; Sadler added 15 and Caleb Fuller had 9. Arrows were led by Baugh’s 21 and 13 from Dennis Scott.