Ipswich under-16 Boys bounced back from a rusty performance against London Greenhouse Pioneers last week, netting a one-point victory against Brentwood Fire, avenging their heaviest defeat of the season.
The Suffolk side dominated the first 16 minutes of the game, with Lewis Tebbit and Ben Winter the primary offensive architects for Ipswich as they pushed out to a 14-34 lead, before Ethan Price and Tom Payne had to sit with foul trouble, and Fire put on a run of their own, closing the half on a 17-7 run with Ipswich holding a 31-41 lead at the half. While seven Ipswich players had gotten onto the scoresheet, the backcourt duo of Winter and Tebbit had combined for 27 of the side’s points in the first half.
With Jack Barnes going down with a wrist injury and foul problems continuing to plague Price and Payne, Ahmeed Yusoof and Joe Hindley stepped into the breach and worked tirelessly to keep Fire off the glass and out of the lane, while Matt Spurling and Troy Huggins rotated in to maintain Ipswich’s perimeter defence. Brentwood controlled the quarter, though, thanks to Tim Aetukasi scoring seven points in the frame and drawing the fouls which sat the Ipswich bigs down, bringing it all the way back to 56-57 with one quarter to go.
As the two sides exchanged the lead several times in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, Payne came up on the wrong end of a block/charge call and fouled-out with Fire holding a three-point lead, but a superb run from Ipswich saw them register three straight stops, while scores from Winter and Tebbit edged the blues ahead, before the same duo and Spurling putting the team up two with eight seconds to play.
With Aetukasi drawing a foul out of the time-out and splitting a pair of free-throws, Tebbit intentionally missed the second free-throw from the line, meaning time expired with Ipswich holding a 71-72 lead, and Fire unable to get off another shot.
Winter (26), Tebbit (22) and Spurling (8) led the scoring for Ipswich, who move to 9-5 for the season.
“That was a superb effort from the lads today” said Coach Arron MacDonald. “They were a bit down after last week – we were rusty, shots lipped-out all over the place, and we dropped a winnable game. To bounce back in that way, against a strong Brentwood team might surprise some people – but we always felt that the boys had it in them. Both sides were missing key players, but competed the whole way in a game that was a great advert for junior basketball.”
“Ben and Lewis were amazing today. Ben’s come back from the Christmas break with a different level of focus, and when he plays at maximum pace, I don’t think there are many better players around; and I can’t say enough for Lewis’ performance today, he attacked relentlessly and worked tirelessly on defence.
“When those guys set the tone, the others follow – so you see Ahmeed and Tom going to war in the paint, Ethan commanding the defence, and Matt Spurling asking for the toughest defensive assignment and giving everything he’s got for the team – and we come away with a hard-fought win. As ever though, the fixtures never get any easier, and we have another really tough challenge next week – although hopefully with a full-strength team.”
Next up for Ipswich is another road game at NASSA on Saturday 21st January.