Itchen survive tense contest at IBA

Ben Winter had a team-high 28 points in defeat for Ipswich (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Itchen won a closely contested game 71-66 in Ipswich against Copleston, between two hard working teams.

The game saw two of the best big men in the country go head to head, as Copleston’s 7’0 Jonny Hall faced off against Itchen’s 6’8″ Ashley Briggs, and the two centres didn’t disappoint – Hall went off for 23 while Briggs matched him with 23 of his own, eighteen in the second half, including three key long range efforts to seal the game for the visitors.

Itchen had the better of the early going, leading 19-13 after the first behind the play of Lewis Gale, while for Copleston it was Hall who was doing the damage with seven in the period.

In the second quarter, Itchen extended their lead to 27-15 before Copleston again fought back with key plays from guards Ben Winter and Year 11 Troy Huggins. Itchen led at the half 37-31.

The third period saw Itchen again extend the lead to double figures behind baskets from Matt Hughes before Huggins again provided the spark for Copleston, bringing it back within four. A 10-0 run from Itchen extended the lead to fourteen, but back-to-back scores from 16 year old Winter brought things back within ten.

The fourth turned into a shootout between Itchen big-man Briggs and Copleston’s dynamic young guard Winter. Both players connected three times from beyond the arc.

Copleston started the period with a 9-0 run before Briggs took the bigger Hall out to the perimeter and hit a pair of threes. Winter responded with six straight before a Briggs and-one was followed by another deep three to extend the lead back to ten. Copleston responded yet again with baskets from Hall, Winter and a free throw from Blake Read to bring it back to 71-66 as the clock wound down to finish an entertaining game.

“Our guys are learning so much and developing so fast, playing at this level,” Copleston Head Coach Nick Drane commented.

“We have one player with any experience of the EABL before this season and at times that shows. We went down by double figures three times in this game and each time, battled back. This was another example of how much our team has already improved this season – and again, we were right there with a minute to play.

“Itchen, as ever were a very tough, well coached team who I imagine will be right there in the mix when the play-offs come around. Credit to them for getting the win.”

Briggs led the way for Itchen with 23, while Aaron Berida added 12. For IBA, Winter led all scorers with 28 points (including six from downtown) while Hall continued his high scoring start to the season with 23.

Copleston are on the road to Barking Abbey next week, while Itchen host Oaklands.