Team Birmingham Elite 92-72 Ipswich Basketball
National League Division II
The Factory, Birmingham
An extremely close first half was broken open in the third quarter as Team Birmingham Elite overcame Ipswich to secure the win the hosts needed to avoid relegation.
Heading into Saturday’s game, it was the Midlands side who had much more at stake, and this showed in the second half as 11th-placed Birmingham pressed continuously and forced Ipswich into twelve second-half turnovers.
The visitors had kept pace early behind the shooting of Cameron Hawes, who scored Ipswich’s first six points on his way to a game-high 21 points.
Ipswich shot poorly throughout the second half and lacked any offensive flow.
On the other end, Birmingham’s offense ran through Conor Lynch at the high post and Daniel Penkov from the three-point line, alongside a valuable contribution from Keanan Williams.
A back-and-forth first half saw both sides lead several times as Hawes and Jonny Hall paced Ipswich’s offense. Whenever either side threatened to break the game open, however, a quick run from their opponents levelled up the contest.
After the break, Birmingham, knowing a defeat would relegate them back to Division III after a single season, played with more fire than Ipswich could contain.
It was a disappointing end to Ipswich’s regular season campaign which now sees John Ellis’ side waiting on other results to find out whether they will play in the Playoffs.
Behind Hawes’ 21 points, Hall finished with 16 and Colin Dockrell and Jed Robinson contributed 10 apiece, the latter in his most productive offensive performance of the season.
“This was a classic example of one team needing a game more than the other,” said Coach Ellis post-game.
“I am not happy that we now have to wait a week to find out whether we will make the playoffs, but we will continue to prepare as best we can over the next week.”
Birmingham need to win again next week when they travel to relegated London Westside, or they will join their opponents in Division III next year.