Ipswich Basketball 62-66 Kent Crusaders
National League Division II
Copleston Sports Centre
London Greenhouse Pioneers 64-91 Ipswich Basketball
National League Division II
A tough double-header weekend began with defeat but ended with a thumping victory for Ipswich Basketball.
Ipswich took apart a veteran London Greenhouse Pioneers team in a statement 27-point victory which reinforced the Suffolk club’s claim on 4th place in the league and a home seeding for the first round of the Playoffs.
That win followed a narrow defeat in a grind-it-out game Saturday against high-lying Kent Crusaders, who sit just one game out of the league lead and may well face Ipswich again in the post-season.
The scoreline was close throughout with neither side leading by double-digits at any stage. Small details came to cost Ipswich in the final minutes of the game, with a couple of missed free throws, a shot-clock violation and a couple of big shots by Kent forward Obi Agu enough to make the difference in the end.
Leigh Greenan led Ipswich with 20 points and ten rebounds, while Tom Sadler chalked up 18 points despite playing through injury and Luke Mascall-Wright added 16.
John Shodipo paced the Crusaders with 19 points; Agu finished with 14.
On the back of that defeat a determined Ipswich travelled to central London and blew the Pioneers away behind a second-half three-point barrage and some exceptional gritty team defense.
Greenan again topped the scoring charts with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but with Sadler, Mascall-Wright, Caleb Fuller, Edson Ferreira, Colin Dockrell, Cameron Hawes and Rory Winter combining for 13 three-pointers, Ipswich’s offense was too hot to handle.
In a very even first half, which Ipswich edged 44-42, Greenan’s now customary dominance in the low post caused constant headaches for the Pioneers frontcourt.
London big men Mark Raynolds and Dean Prosenica each racked up fouls in trying to limit Greenan.
But while Pioneers guards Nick Fearon and Josh Johnson scored enough to keep the hosts within reach, the hosts were running out of gas by the middle stages of the third quarter and scored just 22 points in the second half, to Ipswich’s 47.
Nick Drane’s men moved the ball with precision and purpose in creating one open jump shot after another, and after closing the third quarter on an 11-2 run to start the fourth quarter up 70-55, Ipswich did a professional job of closing out the game.
Even with Ferreira and Sadler lost to injuries, and therefore being reduced to six available players, Ipswich won the final quarter 21-9.
“Sunday’s performance was exactly the response I was looking for after going down by just four points on Saturday,” said Drane.
“I don’t think we’ve shot the ball that well many times this season, if at all. It’s very unusual for this team to go almost 50% from three-point range, and we were efficient from the free throw line too.
“When we’re knocking down threes in addition to how good we are in the low post, and Caleb and Luke getting to the basket, we’re a very, very difficult team to guard.”
Greenan finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds. He had plenty of support, as Mascall-Wright notched up 19 points, Fuller 17, and Sadler 13 as those three combined for eight of the team’s season high 13 made three-pointers.
Drane was equally happy with the performance of his bench, who ended up playing extended minutes.
“With Eddie and Tom a bit banged up in the second half, we needed Colin, Rory and Cameron to step up today, and they were great – all three of them played their roles as closers and killed off the contest.
“Before Christmas when we were 4-6, we sat down as a team and discussed our goals for the season. The first one we agreed on was that we wanted to get the highest playoff seeding possible – at the time, it seemed impossible that we could finish higher than fifth.
“It’s very strange how the season has worked out – with London Westside losing again today, we’re now in a great place to finish fourth in the division, no worse off than if we’d won five more games.
“We have to take maximum advantage of our form and finish the season strong.”