Ipswich Basketball 118-82 Newham Neptunes
National League Division II
Copleston Sports Centre
Ipswich Basketball signed off their regular-season campaign in style as Luke Mascall-Wright’s huge first half led to the whole team catching fire after the break and relegated Newham were unable to cope.
Ipswich elected to rest captain Tom Sadler ahead of the playoffs, but the rotation was shortened further when back-up forward Jonny Hall was taken to hospital following a nasty fall and wrist injury in the Under-18s game preceding the senior fixture.
Starting in Sadler’s place, Colin Dockrell was exceptional and racked up season highs across the board, playing 32 minutes and scoring 21 points, with 12 rebounds and four assists.
He was Ipswich’s second-leading scorer behind Mascall-Wright, who tallied 29 of his team-high 35 points in an initially tough first half for the much-fancied hosts.
Newham came out with a very determined defensive game plan to cope with Leigh Greenan, who had 37 points in the reverse fixture before Christmas, and focused on shutting him down early.
They achieved that – Greenan was held to a single point in the first half – but in the process, the visitors had to live with the fact that they couldn’t stop Mascall-Wright, who scored in transition, on the drive, and hit five of seven three-pointers for the complete offensive performance.
On the other end, Greenan was getting his own-back with another solid all-around game as he would go on to finish with ten points, five blocks and 15 rebounds, but it may have been Dockrell who had the defensive play of the game, knocking the ball out of Newham guard Lukas Volskis’ hands before diving to the floor to retrieve it and start the fast break.
Ipswich came out of the half-time break with a 51-30 lead, and once Newham adjusted to try to limit Mascall-Wright, it was Dockrell and Caleb Fuller who came alive for ten points apiece in the third period to keep Ipswich’s offense ticking over.
And there was plenty of time in the final frame, with the lead comfortably over 30 points, for Academy stars Rory Winter, Cameron Hawes and Veron Eze to add to the total.
Fuller finished with 20 points, Winter 13, and Hawes ten. Volskis was the game’s high scorer, as Newham’s do-it-all guard finished with 38 but got little or no help from his teammates, with only Dean De Freitas-Smith getting into double figures.
For Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane, who coached the final regular-season game of his six-year tenure in the position, there was plenty to be satisfied with from his team’s performance.
“We knew that Newham would have to come out and focus heavily on stopping Leigh, as he was so incredible at their place,” explained Drane.
“We planned to go smaller for long periods today, keep the floor spread and try to give Leigh as much room to work as possible, but with Colin playing like that I just couldn’t justify sitting him down.
“Colin Dockrell has played for me here for a long time, and embodies everything about what I try to achieve with my basketball teams – he is completely team-first, he hasn’t complained all season when we were going away on long road trips and he would play a handful of minutes.
“There seems to be a point every year when we have to turn to him and ask three times as many minutes as he’s been playing – and he has never, once, disappointed.
Drane also reserved praise for his star guard.
“Luke Mascall-Wright’s play in the first half took any early nerves away. Where Luke is fantastic is you don’t need to run sets or call plays for him, he just scores in the flow of the game, which makes him extremely difficult for the opponent to game-plan for.
“Newham slowed him down in the second half by doubling and face-guarding him the whole time – so he turns facilitator and gets everyone else scoring instead.
“When Luke and Caleb are running and gunning like they did today, our bench is on fire, the crowd is loud and into it, and all of that without Leigh getting his usual numbers and with Tom Sadler on the bench – I wouldn’t want to be coming here in the playoffs!”