Doncaster Eagles 98-96 Ipswich Basketball
National League Division II
The Pods, Scunthorpe
Ipswich were stunned by a late comeback from relegation candidates Doncaster Eagles on Saturday as the hosts rallied from seven down in the final quarter to take a precious victory.
Leigh Greenan produced another eye-catching performance, finishing with 29 points and 13 rebounds for Ipswich, but Nick Drane’s short-handed side came up against a three-point barrage by the Eagles, who scored 45 points from long range.
Doncaster’s short squad proved a match-up problem early on but it was only the late-game heroics of Tom Hodson, normally not a threat from behind the arc, in hitting two threes in the final 90 seconds of the game that proved the decisive moment.
A three in reply by Ipswich captain Tom Sadler tied the game at 96-96 with eight seconds to play, but Eagles guard Phil Walsh was able to draw a foul on Cameron Hawes two seconds from the final buzzer. Walsh hit both free throws, and Ipswich were unable to get a shot up from the ensuing timeout, meaning the Eagles held on.
Ipswich had entered the final quarter leading by seven points having used Greenan’s interior presence to set up their offensive rhythm.
Greenan often scored almost uncontested in the low post in the first half, and when he was double-teamed, the centre was adept at hitting Caleb Fuller and Sadler for easy scores.
At the other end, Mathew Martin was as usual Doncaster’s main offensive weapon, but Walsh far exceeded his season average by amassing 22 points in the game, and he was matched by George Colwill, who was playing his first game of the season for the Eagles.
As Doncaster adjusted to Greenan in the final quarter, Ipswich turned to Edson Ferreira and Cameron Hawes to spark their offense.
Hawes hit some big shots and finished with 14 points while Ferreira added a season-high 13, along with six rebounds and seven assists, but the Eagles would never fade away and kept themselves in contention before launching that late comeback.
Ipswich had five players in double figures for the first time since the visit to Thames Valley Cavaliers on January 7th, as Fuller produced 18 points and Sadler racked up 13, five of which came in the final minute.
The Suffolk side had travelled without leading scorer Luke Mascall-Wright.
“Our offensive execution wavered in the final couple of minutes with a couple of missed free throws and turnovers, and we have paid a very high price for that,” reflected Drane.
“This is a very frustrating loss because once again people could look at it and say, ‘oh, there’s an excuse’ because we were missing one or two again. But that isn’t the way I think, nor my staff or my players – we’re gutted to have missed out on the chance to leapfrog London Westside in the race for playoff seedings.
“I have absolutely no idea how this Doncaster side are in a relegation battle. They are, at least, a mid table team in this league – if not better
“We now have an absolutely massive weekend next weekend, with Kent Crusaders at home on Saturday (Copleston Sports Centre, 5pm tip) and going to London Pioneers on Sunday.
“It’s going to be the biggest weekend of our season.”