The Ipswich Under-16 Boys travelled to face winless London United in their final game of 2016, coming away with a 69-88 win, their fourth in a row.
The Suffolk side had the best of a slow start, as they held United scoreless for the first four minutes, but could only muster seven points themselves, five of which came from Veron; with Ethan Price picking up a knock in the quarter, Ben Winter and Ahmeed Yusoof were introduced, and the Ipswich offence clicked into gear, as they notched 13 points in the final four minutes of the quarter to take a 10-20 lead after one.
United had the best of the opening minutes of the second, before Lewis Tebbit led the charge, notching twelve points in the quarter, as Ipswich helped themselves to 23 points in the final 100 seconds of the half to go in with a 33-53 lead.
Ipswich held their lead through the opening six minutes of the third, before United made a run late in the quarter to cut the Ipswich lead to single figures – just as they had in the reverse fixture earlier in the season; and just as before, Ipswich responded with an improved defensive effort in the fourth, holding United to just 10 points as the Suffolk side eased away to a 69-88 win, moving to 8-4 for the season.
Tebbit topped the charts for Ipswich with 27 points, with Veron adding a 19 point, 12 rebound, 5 block double-double. Ipswich also got significant offensive contributions from Winter (13 points, 5 steals, 5 assists) and Yusoof (13 points, 9 rebounds), while Thomas Payne had his best performance of the season on the glass, and Price – fighting his way through the pain barrier – notched 8 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks.
“This game had every potential to be a bit of a banana skin for us – so I’m pleased to have come away with the win” said Coach Arron MacDonald. “No disrespect intended to United, but it’s a week before Christmas – mentally these kids are already on holiday – and we were travelling to a side who hadn’t notched a win yet, it would have been easy for the guys to switch off, and cough up the wrong result.”
“Again we had stretches today where we were unplayable, but we didn’t really play to our standards for the majority of the game, we missed a lot of easy looks around the basket and left ten points at the foul line, but most concerning was how frequently we allowed our opponents to simply run past us and rebound – we can’t allow teams to do the simple things better than us, and we can’t just rely on Ethan to mop up on the glass – it’s a team responsibility, and it’s something we must improve on.”
“None of that takes away from how proud I am of this group already. Bear in mind that last year’s under 16’s only won 7 games, and the under 14’s won 9 – we’re 8-4 already, and it’s great to see these guys excited and enthusiastic about competing – but we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves right now. Although we’re outperforming everyone else’s expectations of us, there’s a lot of basketball to be played – and we have a long way to go on our journey as a team, simply put, I don’t think we’ve quite ‘clicked’ yet, so we can absolutely be better – and that’s our only target, we want to be the best team we can be.”
Next up for Ipswich is a tough matchup against London Greenhouse Pioneers at Copleston on Saturday 7th January at 3:00pm.