Ipswich almost catch Hoods out in narrow loss

Ben Winter driving past the defense during Ipswich's fourth-quarter comeback (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich Basketball 97-103 Nottingham Hoods
National League Division II
Copleston Sports Centre

Ipswich came within a whisker of a major upset when they host league leaders Nottingham on Saturday.

The visiting Hoods have lost just once all season, and came into Copleston looking for a third win of the season over an Ipswich team whom they had defeated by 56 points as recently as October.

But Coach John Ellis’ side went off like a train through the first half, making an outstanding 67% of their first-half field goals to lead by one at half time, 52-51.

Ipswich benefited from their size and a strong first-half showing from Tendai Simbai, holding Hoods centre Andrej Slavik scoreless after he had scored 16 points the previous weekend.

The Hoods are not top of the league without reason, and clamped down on Ipswich’s offense in the third quarter, limiting the hosts to 13 points as the third quarter ended 65-73 to the visitors.

This was followed by two quick three-pointers from Luke Mitchell and scores for Janes Mestre early in the fourth quarter, and Ipswich were now 16 points adrift.

Following an Ipswich timeout, Colin Dockrell and Ben Winter keyed a 12-1 run for the hosts which brought them straight back into the game. Cameron Hawes hit a key three-pointer as he shot at a high percentage for the second game in succession.

The rest of the game played out in staccato fashion with Ipswich forced to foul the Hoods and stop the clock.

Ellis’ men continued to shoot at a high percentage and took advantage of tenacious defence by Rabi Rai, Rory Winter and Ryan Wilson to edge within two at 95-97, but the Hoods were absolutely clinical at the free throw line, making 15 of 18 across the last three minutes to deny Ipswich the opportunity to tie the game up.

“It’s a very frustrating loss in the moment, but I think we have to be nothing but proud of how we played today,” said Coach Ellis.

“We had a sixty-second lapse in defensive effort that cost us about ten points, and that gave us a mountain to climb.

“I’m always saying I’m very proud of the resilience this group shows and our veterans are great leaders, but today was a prime example – that team floored us three months ago and today we almost came back for the upset of the season.”

Ipswich travel to struggling London Pioneers on Sunday.