Slow start costs Men in London

Westminster Warriors 84-68 Ipswich Basketball
National League Division II
Capital City Academy, London

A slow start cost Ipswich a realistic chance at victory as they travelled to Westminster Warriors, who are still on the fringes of the Division II promotion race, on Saturday.

Ipswich led for the last time at 6-5 in the first quarter but then conceded a 15-4 run to fall behind by double digits. The Suffolk side trailed by 14 after the first period, as the short-handed visitors struggled to find their rhythm offensively.

Missing three key rotation players, Ipswich were initially outmatched by Westminster’s physical and intense defense, but began to find their form in the second period.

Jonny Hall remains a consistent source of offense for Coach John Ellis, and the seven-foot centre worked his way to eight of his 12 points in the first half, but it was Ben Winter’s insertion into the game which sparked Ipswich.

The 17-year-old had the hot hand throughout, and connected on three long-range shots in under two minutes as a late-second quarter revival saw Ipswich head into the half still down by 14.

The second half proceeded in the same fashion, with Westminster pulling away initially and then Ipswich rallying back again, but the visitors could never claw their way closer than that 14-point mark for very long as the experienced Julius Joseph and Mantas Adomaitis paced the Warriors.

“We have to acknowledge that at this stage in the season it is clear there are two levels of teams within our league,” said Ellis.

“Westminster are in the first group, and we are currently sitting at the top of the second group.

“Coming up against in-form, experienced teams trying to get back to Division I, you have to bring your best stuff and, missing several key guys as we were, we couldn’t put it out there early on.

“I thought Ben Winter was fantastic, and we got great contributions from some of our role players, but unfortunately it didn’t add up to enough today,” he concluded.

Winter finished with 20 points on just 11 shots. Hall and Colin Dockrell added 12 apiece but no one else really got going for Ipswich.

Laurence Brown racked up a low-key 15 for the Warriors, while Adomaitis and Florian Damptey tacked on 12 each.