Ipswich Under-16 Boys travelled to the Thunderdome to face London Thunder Lewisham, and put a halt to their four-game losing streak in a gritty 65-70 win.
It was Thunder who started brightest, running-out to a 9-0 lead in the opening few minutes, leading to a quick timeout from Coach Arron MacDonald, who saw his team respond by holding their hosts scoreless for four minutes, as Tom Payne and Veron Eze got onto the scoresheet either side of a pair of long-range efforts from Lewis Tebbit. As the quarter continued, and Ipswich rotated their bench, Thunder made the most of their height advantage to aggressively create repeat opportunities on offence, and eked-out a 16-14 lead after one.
Ben Winter began to find his rhythm in the second quarter, with the Ipswich point guard calling his own number to start and end the quarter, as the Suffolk side’s offence began to click into gear, with Ethan Price the foremost beneficiary, as he netted six points in the quarter, as despite some foul trouble for Price, Payne and Ahmeed Yusoof, Ipswich edged ahead 30-31 at the half.
Tebbit began the second half on a mission, as he seemed to cover every inch of the court defensively, constantly harassing the Thunder ball-handlers, while any players able to find their way past him found a wall in the form of Price, who recorded another 11-block performance. However, the defensive effort didn’t carry over early in the quarter, as the hosts tied it up at 35 apiece, before Seb Mobee, Payne and Winter contributed to an 8-0 run. With the game held scoreless for a few minutes, it was clearly a case that the defence remained on-top, and Thunder’s relentless offensive rebounding attack kept them in touching distance, as Ipswich led 44-49 after three.
Thunder opened the fourth quarter on a 6-0 run to snatch the lead from the Suffolk side, before Eze snapped them out of their malaise. Payne added another four points, before fouling out with five minutes to go. With Ipswich holding a narrow two-point lead with three minutes to play, the ball swung to Winter late in the shot clock, and he calmly drained a three to give some breathing room. As Thunder attempted to run Winter, Eze and Tebbit off the three-point line, they drove and found Yusoof, who scored six in the quarter, as Ipswich built an unassailable lead in the closing minutes, before Coach MacDonald rotated the bench down the stretch of a 65-70 win.
Lewis Tebbit led the scoring with 19 points, adding a pair of assists and steals. Veron Eze added 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals and Ben Winter added 11 points and 7 assists. Ethan Price once again stuffed the stat sheet, with 7 points, 15 rebounds, 11 blocks, 3 steals and 3 assists.
“I’m really proud of the lads for that performance” said Coach MacDonald. “It’d have been easy to lose confidence and doubt ourselves with the run we’ve been on, but they kept at it, and they got their reward today.”
“A massive assist has to go to Coach Tom Sadler – as he came in to work the boys out this week ahead of the Ipswich Basketball Academy open day, and although the boys always work hard, having the club captain and an experienced professional and international player step into the gym and show you the level you need to work at, it just sets a different tone – and we saw that today, the work ethic these lads put in was unreal. Every player was engaged, we moved the ball much better on offence, and defensively, we largely kept a bigger side off the glass. All of that without three of our most experienced players in Matt, Joe & Jack.”
“Everyone had a big performance today – from Lewis buzzing around the perimeter, to Veron’s inside-outside game, to Tom & Ahmeed going to war inside, to Ben’s mature performance running the point – but Ethan Price was on another level defensively. He saw what our team needed, and provided it. He never stopped talking and moving guys around, he rebounded superbly and protected the rim as well as I’ve seen anyone do it at this level. He maintained the defensive tone that Coach Sadler had talked to the guys about, and that was the foundation this result was built-on.”
Up next for Ipswich is a home tie against Southwark Pride on Sunday 4th December at 3:00pm.