Ipswich Basketball Under-16 Boys had a busy weekend, travelling first to Southampton to face Solent Kestrels in league play, before making the trip to face Brentwood Fire in the cup, and would be without a pair of key players, with Matt Spurling out for six weeks with Glandular fever, and Veron Eze struggling with a sore back.
With many of the players leaving home by 5am on Saturday for the long trek to Solent, it was fair to assume that Ipswich would be slow out of the gates, but instead the blues raced to a 7-13 lead in the opening minutes, before Kestrels pegged them back with a 9-5 run as Ipswich led 16-18 after one.
Kestrels had the best of the middle periods, edging out to a twelve-point lead with nine minutes remaining in the game, before Ethan Price asserted himself on the game, as the big guy led from the front. He scored 12 of his 16 points in the closing stanza, dominating the glass and collecting a pair of steals and blocks for good measure, as Ipswich’s ever-improving team defence held their opponents without a field goal for the closing minutes again in overcoming a six point deficit with two minutes to play to take a 62-65 win and move to 4-1 in league play.
Captain Ben Winter paced the Ipswich attack, and stuffed the stat sheet as he scored 24 points, dished out 5 assists, grabbed 6 rebounds and amazingly finished with 8 steals and a pair of blocks as well. Ipswich’s other leading scorers were Price (16 points, 15 rebounds and 6 blocks) and Lewis Tebbit (11 points, 9 rebounds 5 assists).
The Suffolk side hopped back in the minibus on Sunday to travel to Brentwood and face the Fire team who humbled them in a 48-95 result only a few weeks ago.
Ipswich put in a much improved performance in the game, moving the ball with greater effect against Fire, but struggled to put the ball in the basket in the opening period, as Thunder built a double-digit lead, before the blues fought back to close the quarter down nine. Fire extended their lead in the second, going into halftime with a commanding 38-22 lead, as they used their distinct size advantage to dominate the glass.
In the second half, Tebbit did his best to inspire the team on offence, netting 17 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, and whilst that paced Ipswich to cut into the Fire lead, it wasn’t enough as the Essex side eased home, 67-52 to eliminate the blues from the National Cup.
Tebbit added 8 rebounds and a pair of steals to his points tally, and was assisted by Price (10 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Winter (8 points, 3 assists, 3 steals).
“We knew coming into this that it was going to be a tough weekend,” said Ipswich Coach Arron MacDonald, “but ultimately, it’s been a really positive one. Despite missing a couple of guys, and with Ben, Lewis and Ethan all picking up knocks, they played through it and led the team.
“We got great contributions from the other players too, I thought Troy Huggins was superb this weekend in keeping the pace up and the ball moving, and digging in on defence – and that showed some of the other youngsters like Rhakeem Edwards-Channer and Danny Manning that they can get out there and give us something – and they both put in a shift defensively too.”
“We know we need to work harder at keeping teams off the glass, and need to move the ball a lot quicker – but we’re seeing good progress with the group, and they’re really buying-in and working hard to improve and to play with the pace and intensity that we want them to play at.”
Up next for Ipswich are unbeaten Worthing Thunder at Copleston on Saturday 5th November at 1:00pm.