Gallery: Ipswich Basketball Club start play-offs with big win over Derbyshire Arrows

Luke Mascall-Wright dunks

Luke Mascall-Wright dunks - Credit: Archant

EBL Play-Offs Ipswich 97 Derbyshire Arrows 80 Ipswich progressed into the semi-finals of the EBL Division Two play-offs, and a semi-final showdown at the Lancashire Spinners, a team that have already defeated the Suffolk side twice this season.

In their final home game, Ipswich were keen to give the home fans a season finale they could take away and cherish and prevailed as 97-80 winners against Killamarsh Derbyshire Arrows.

With lifelong Ipswich Academy graduates Luke Mascall-Wright and Sam Newman playing in their final home game before taking their careers to the next level in the USA, the result became all the more poignant in a fitting finale for the academy pair.

Prior to the game, head coach Nick Drane spoke of a brand new start, playing on the theme of a true ‘post-season’ mentality, as the 2015 EBL play-offs got underway with one goal in mind for the team – to deliver a championship.

Right from the start, Ipswich embraced the emphatic energy from the crowd by taking an early lead, fuelled by perfect four out of four shooting, notably from Josh Johnson, and Sam Newman.

It was Johnson who set the tone for the rest of the game though, playing one of his most dominant performances of the season, by shutting down the threat of talented point guard Chris Dixon, grabbing critical defensive rebounds, and linking up superbly in attack with dominant big man Leigh Greenan.

With the entire starting line-up registering a score in the first quarter, they completed a dominant opening by ending the quarter with 31 points.

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Ipswich continued their energy-filled start, embracing the crowd and curtailing the threat of the Arrows by hitting three three-point baskets, and shooting perfectly from the foul line.

Everything was clicking, as Johnson and Greenan continued their relentless offensive onslaught on the Arrows’ zone defence, overpowering and overwhelming them at both ends with key defensive plays from Mascall-Wright, Johnson, and captain Tom Sadler, who looked very smooth early in the second.

The bench provided a continued spark, allowing the starters to gain a rest, with contributions offensively from Colin Dockrell, and Billy Smith.

Dockrell had a game plan from the start, and crashed the boards and provided leadership in the absence from the court of Sadler.

Nonetheless, Ipswich completed a first half rout by registering 64 points to Arrows’ 42.

Drane had said that the speed of the game being played by Ipswich was the only reason Arrows scored 42, as the sheer pace of the offensive play and scoring from the Blues allowed more possession for the visitors.

However, with the play-offs comes a shift in intensity, and the Arrows out-scored the hosts in the third quarter.

That was until the hosts rallied, scoring six quick points, from Johnson, Newman, and two free throws from Mascall-Wright. They finished the quarter up by 22 points, as both teams scored 17 each.

Yet despite the huge lead, the hosts may have been guilty of switching off slightly, as they failed to convert the first four field goal attempts in the fourth quarter.

Despite a rally from the Arrows, as they cut the lead to 17 points, the huge margin built up in the first half was in the end insurmountable for the visitors, and Ipswich finished the game strong, having never been truly threatened.

They registered a 97-80 victory to send the home fans home delighted, and advance to the semi-finals of the play-offs.

Johnson turned in an epic performance, hitting 33 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, as well as playing suffocating defence on the Arrows’ biggest threat, while Greenan collected 13 rebounds and scored 24 points in the process.

Newman, despite being hampered by a slight ankle tweak, scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds and took six steals.

“We wanted to come out aggressive today and control to tempo of the game,” said Drane.

“Our guards were outstanding today. When Josh plays like that he’s sensational but also Sam and Luke were great in their last games here.

“Next week’s game be tough, Spinners have beaten us twice this season so we will need to have everyone ready.”

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