Liverpool Basketball Club 60-75 Ipswich Basketball
National League Division II
Archbishop Beck School, Liverpool
For the first time this season, Ipswich Basketball can lay claim to a winning record, after a second win over Liverpool in the space of a week.
Following last weekend’s win at Copleston Sports Centre, where Head Coach Nick Drane was able to make use of a long bench, just eight players made the five-hour journey to the North-West.
And the rotations were shortened further by illness affecting starting veterans Tom Sadler and Edson Ferreira, who both played significantly fewer minutes than usual while suffering flu-like symptoms.
Coach Drane turned to his Ipswich Basketball Academy products to step into the breach, and with Rory Winter playing a career-high 26 minutes and Cameron Hawes and Jonny Hall also contributing off the bench, the team produced some outstanding basketball.
Luke Mascall-Wright and Leigh Greenan poured in 22 points apiece, and held something of a dunk contest between them, with Mascall-Wright’s vicious two-handed slam the highlight play of the game.
“Ipswich Basketball Academy did us proud today” – Head Coach Nick Drane
“I can honestly say that was the best whole game of basketball we’ve produced this season,” said Coach Drane after the game.
“We needed contributions from different places today and absolutely got them. I couldn’t take Rory out of the game. Cameron came in and played great defense, and Jonny did a marvellous job of using his body defensively and working hard for the team.
“That’s the proudest I’ve been of any of our performances this season.”
Mascall-Wright had 10 points in the first period to pace Ipswich as they build a slender lead. In the second quarter, Greenan began to get into his flow, and some important baskets from Caleb Fuller kept Ipswich on top as they moved to a nine-point advantage, 34-25, at half-time.
Midway through the second quarter came Mascall-Wright’s YouTube moment, when Winter, leading the fast break, swung around and fed the flying scorer at full pace to go up and over Waul.
Drane stressed the importance of maintaining momentum early in the second half, and his squad met the challenge, never letting the lead fall below seven the rest of the way.
With Greenan now fully in control down low, the hosts’ offense continued to stutter in the second half, and Ipswich’s defense forced costly turnovers at key times.
When Winter and Hawes combined to hit three three-pointers in as many minutes across the third and fourth quarters, Liverpool’s leading scorers Gayle and Ulett-Waul hit back, but Coach Delme Herriman’s men never had the upper hand.
Mascall-Wright had time to get another emphatic finish in the books as Ipswich pulled away for good with consecutive scores off turnovers with around three minutes to play.
Behind the leading scorers, Fuller finished with 14 points, while Winter added eight.
“Our togetherness was fantastic today,” said Coach Drane. “This Liverpool team are way better than their record suggests and for three quarters plus, they were right with us.
“Add in the crowd, who really got behind their team, and this is a very difficult atmosphere to come into – especially when half your roster is 18 or younger.
“But Ipswich Basketball Academy did us proud today, and our youngsters shouldered the load and helped get us over the line.
“I can finally say we have a winning record, too! 8-7 feels good; it’s frustrating that we haven’t been ‘over .500’ before now but it’s richly deserved for the basketball we’ve been playing over the last two months, and I’m still confident with the games we have left that we can put another five or six wins on the board – minimum.”
Ipswich are in action at home this weekend, hosting London Westside at Copleston at 5pm on Saturday, and Drane, who is stepping down at the end of the season, promises more fireworks.
“We absolutely have to keep building on what we’ve achieved thus far in 2017 – that’s three wins in a row,” he points out. “I really want to make it four next weekend.”