Derbyshire Arrows 72-98 Ipswich Basketball
NBL Patrons Cup
Killamarsh Sports Centre, Sheffield
Ipswich Basketball began their 2018/19 season with an emphatic win at the home of NBL Division II rivals Derbyshire Arrows on Saturday, thanks to a spectacular second half performance.
Colin Dockrell and Cameron Hawes, both returning from last season, led the way with 22 points, seven rebounds and three steals apiece, while Ethan Price added 21 points and eight rebounds on his senior competitive debut.
“We took a little while to get up and running, but once some of our new players began to click, the results were very encouraging indeed” – Head Coach John Ellis
Derbyshire had the better of the opening quarter, ending the period ahead by seven, 23-16, on the back of strong outside shooting from Knapp and Brownell.
Having started shakily on offense, however, John Ellis‘ new charges found their feet in the second quarter.
With new arrivals Eivydas Aleksa and Steve Hemmings helping the offense to find a flow, and Ben Winter running the point efficiently, Ipswich scored 29 points in the second quarter and tied the game at half-time in a rather unusual manner.
The referees blew for a foul on Dockrell as the buzzer went for half time, but it was not until Ipswich came out to start the second half that a decision had been made to award free throws – which the Ipswich skipper calmly converted.
Arrows briefly eked out a slender lead early in the third, but the momentum in the game had shifted and behind hyperactive defense, the Suffolk side pushed the pace and took control of the tie.
Veron Eze and Rabi Rai contributed blocks and steals respectively and Eze’s cloistering defense on Arrows star Joseph Baugh was a significant factor in the hosts scoring only 11 points in the third quarter.
By contrast, Hawes and Dockrell were on fire at the other end – and when they weren’t hitting three-pointers, Price was getting to the basket, dunking over the head of Arrows centre Matthew Wilson in one highlight-reel moment.
Winter and Aleksa combined for 15 assists, but got to the basket several times through the second half for driving scores of their own.
Ipswich’s youthful energy was more and more of an advantage as the game wore on, and some glorious passing sequences left Arrows chasing shadows in the final minutes.
Ipswich outscored Derbyshire 53-27 after half time, with six of the Arrows’ points coming in the final two minutes after the game was well and truly sealed.
“Watching our second-half performance today was a pleasure,” said Head Coach Ellis. “We took a little while to get up and running, but once some of our new players began to click, the results were very encouraging indeed.
“We’ve been working hard in training over the summer and it seems to be paying early results.
“I was particularly pleased to see Eivydas, Steve, Ethan and Veron already gelling well with our returning players. We still have Jed Robinson and two more newcomers, George Traynor and Marvin Isebor, to weave into the mix so we’re going to be a very deep squad this year.”
Having come off the back of defeat against Team USA Select three weekends ago, Ellis agreed that getting a first win in the books will help the team’s confidence.
“You have to compare this to where we were at this stage last season, when we lost our two Patrons’ Cup games – albeit to teams who ended up being promoted – by 80 points,” he said.
Ipswich are now at home for the next three weekends, with a National Cup tie against Richmond Knights this Sunday (5.30pm tip) followed by more Patrons’ Cup action on October 6th and the Division II curtain-raiser against Sussex Bears on October 13th.
Building momentum will be a priority, but Ellis is also targeting consistency.
“We only won consecutive games once last season,” he pointed out. “That is not a trend we want to continue with this season.
“Three good performances in the next three weeks can set us up for a really exciting season ahead.”