NASSA survive in tough loss for Ipswich

Veron attacks the basket in a close defeat for the under-16s (Image: Nick Winter)

Ipswich U16 Boys travelled to NASSA in the South Premier Division, looking to separate themselves from the pack in the chase for a playoff berth.

While the Suffolk side started strongly, and forced an early timeout from their hosts up 2-6, NASSA went on a six minute 20-4 run in the first quarter, and while Coach Arron MacDonald rotated his side to try and find an answer, instead, the blues fell into foul trouble, with Tom Payne, Ethan Price and Matt Spurling all sitting to end the first down 25-13.

The second quarter was all Ipswich, as Ahmeed Yusoof and Tom Payne went to battle inside, Ben Winter, Lewis Tebbit and Veron tormented the hosts on defence, leading to a number of fast-break scores, cutting NASSA’s lead to four points. NASSA struck back though, claiming the third quarter by ten points, and with Price and Spurling fouling out, it looked like NASSA would claim an easy win, until a great defensive stand sparked a 12-3 run to cut the lead to just five points with three and a half to play and all the momentum with Ipswich.

To this point, the game had frequently been interrupted by a football coming into play from the adjoining court, and when this happened again, the table signalled for a timeout, which was acknowledged by the umpire – who took the ball – as the referee waved this off to continue, NASSA’s guard thought fast and took the ball from the official attacking Ipswich’s defence which was scrambling back from their run towards the sideline. Tom Payne got into perfect position and took the stand, with the referee putting the whistle to his lips and signalling a foul, the Ipswich bench erupted with excitement at the selfless and intelligent play from Payne, but no whistle had sounded.

No block or charge foul was called on the play, but from the free-throws and ensuing play, NASSA extended their lead to eight points, and although Ipswich outplayed their hosts down the stretch, they had to shoot from range owing to the deficit, and simply failed to connect with sufficient frequency.

Lewis Tebbit (26), Veron (16) and Ben Winter (14) led the scoring for the Suffolk side.

After the game, Coach Arron MacDonald was quick to point out where the game had been lost: “You can’t shoot 17/31 at the line, miss as many layups as we did, and be outscored in the paint and fast-breaks and then expect to win the game. All credit to NASSA, they had a game plan to slow us down a little, and they executed their plan better than we did ours.

“The lads were naturally deflated at the block/charge call and subsequent technical – but this loss wasn’t down to that decision. We created the best opportunities, and didn’t take them, it’s that simple.

“Unfortunately, it seems that the scouting report on us is out to the league. Everyone looks at us as a flair team, and tries to bully us, and often teams who play more aggressively get the rub of the green, while the team whinging to officials gets called for touch fouls. It’s on the lads to change that scout.

“They have to focus on responding on the next play rather than reacting emotionally – however hard that may be – and we’ve simply got to be physically and mentally tougher. We’ve got a lot of work to put in this week, but we’ll re-focus and we’ll be better.”

Next up for MacDonald’s men is a double-header at home against Solent at 11am on Saturday 28th January, followed by a trip to face Southwark Pride on Sunday 29th January (to be confirmed).