Short-handed Under-18s bow out in OT

Missing Hall and Brown, Girling's men put up fight in Birmingham

Blake Read attacks the basket in Birmingham while injured teammate Jonny Hall watches on (Image: Peter Howard)

A late surge, including forcing an overtime period, wasn’t enough to secure a place in the second round in the playoffs for Ipswich’s Under-18 Men, as they lost in a scrappy game 57-56 away to Birmingham Mets on Saturday.

Having led by two points at the interval, Ipswich found themselves 14 points down with less than four minutes left to play.

Tough defence and some impressive three-point shooting from two call-ups from the Under-16s, Lewis Tebbit and Ben Winter, saw Ipswich claw their way back into the game.

Blake Read was very nearly the hero of the day. With Ipswich two points down, his three-point attempt, on the buzzer in regulation time, failed to drop, but he was fouled in the process of shooting and so went to the line to shoot three free throws after the game was over.

Read hit the first two shots to tie the game, but with Ipswich needed the third to secure victory, his final shot rimmed out and so the game went into overtime.

Mets pulled away to a six-point lead, only for Ipswich to again fight back to within 1 point with seconds left. Again Read had the last shot, after a rebound, but was blocked by two Birmingham players. Birmingham now progress to meet Manchester in the next round, albeit by the slimmest of margins.

“This was a very difficult away game for us,” said Coach Dave Girling. “We were without our star centre, Jonny Hall (broken wrist), who is averaging 24 points and 18 rebounds a game, and our captain Tom Brown (turned ankle).

“We drafted in three of the Under-16 boys to make numbers. All three, Ben Winter, Lewis Tebbit and Ethan Price, did a great job for us, despite not knowing our plays or sets.

“We found it hard to find our usual rhythm on offense and without Jonny points were hard to come by,” he conceded. “This was a gutsy performance by everyone and although we didn’t win, it was a great way to end the season.”

Beside Tebbit’s 15 points for Ipswich, Read finished with 13 and Ben Mobee added eight.