Drane frustrated after Ipswich are beaten at home by London Pioneers

Captain Tom Sadler returned from injury with 13 points against the London Pioneers

Captain Tom Sadler returned from injury with 13 points against the London Pioneers - Credit: Archant

Ipswich head coach Nick Drane told of his frustration after his side suffered a crushing 83-74 defeat in their final home game of 2015 at the hands of league leaders London Pioneers.

Josh Johnson led Ipswich with 16 points in a losing effort

Josh Johnson led Ipswich with 16 points in a losing effort - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk side remains in the hunt for promotion but simply must win their next game to stand any realistic chance of going up this season.

After splitting their opening four games (2-2 record) Ipswich had won four straight games, despite injuries to starting front court pair Tom Sadler and Leigh Greenan, to put them in a position where a win on Saturday would have seen them go in to Christmas in a strong position.

However, such is the competitive nature of the league this season, that the loss now means Ipswich sit in fourth place in the league, with a trip to Southampton next weekend to play the in-form Solent Kestrels, who are undefeated at home all season.

On Saturday everything was set for Ipswich to win the game.

Captain Tom Sadler was back from injury and started the game in an aggressive mood. The 6ft 9ins forward went to work in the first quarter scoring inside and outside, and finished with 13 points for the game.

But the Pioneers did not have to work hard for baskets. Guard Andrew Wallace opened things up with a pair of uncontested three-pointers while Ipswich struggled to keep forward Dean Prosenca off the offensive boards.

Josh Johnson in action against East London

Josh Johnson in action against East London - Credit: Archant

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The game turned into a back and forth affair with both teams racking up the points. For the Pioneers, Wallace continued to be effective, while for Ipswich, Sam Newman connected from beyond the arc while Taner Adu was in the groove.

Pioneers edged the first quarter 20-21.

In the second quarter the London side opened things up, again from beyond the three-point line. Jerome Jack came off the bench for the visitors and connected on three straight triples to open the lead up to double figures, a lead they would not give up for the rest of the game.

Pioneers took a 48-41 lead into the interval.

The third quarter saw London further extend their lead, at one stage to as much as 14 points. However, as Drane tried a different looking line-up to spark his team into life, the home team were boosted by the play of Colin Dockrell and young Caleb Fuller.

The 16-year-old Fuller threw down a spectacular dunk to spark a run that brought Ipswich back into the game, down 64-57 heading into the final quarter.

Taner Adu played well against East London

Taner Adu played well against East London - Credit: Archant

Ipswich brought things back within five, but every time a run was made a timely score answered it from the visitors.

Prosenca was all over the offensive boards and Wallace continued to knock it down from the perimeter.

As Ipswich chased the game in the final minute they were forced to foul and put the Pioneers on the line, who calmly sank the free throws to seal a massive win for them as they head into Christmas as the team to beat in NBL Division Two.

Drane said: “We just turned up and tried to outplay them today, and you can’t win games of this magnitude and at this level like that. You need a plan, you need to follow that plan and you need to execute.

“We went through some things on Thursday at training. We talked about how we wanted to deal with Prosenca and Wallace. We didn’t do the things we talked about and those two guys killed us. It’s very frustrating.”

Ipswich were led by Josh Johnson who contributed 16 points and nine rebounds while Fuller was again outstanding with 15 points and five boards.

The Pioneers were led by Prosenca with 24 points and 15 rebounds and Wallace who finished with 17, including four long-range efforts.

Ipswich travel to Solent on Saturday, in the knowledge that a win keeps them in the mix but a fourth league defeat so early in the season would almost certainly seal the club’s status as a Division Two side again next season.

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