Ipswich Basketball Club cool the Huddersfield Heat to reach National Play-off Final
- Credit: Archant
English Basketball League Division Two Play-off semi-final Huddersfield Heat 67 Ipswich 94 Under-strength Ipswich crushed the only team in the league they hadn’t beaten this season, on the road, to reach the EBL Division Two National Play-Off Final.
It is another in a long line of remarkable achievements for the Suffolk side, who have achieved two straight promotions from Division Four and now, after finishing third in their first season in Division Two, stand on the brink of a national title.
They will face league champions Derby Trailblazers, a team they have beaten twice out of three this season, in the national title game on Sunday April 27 at 10.45am at the Amaechi Basketball Centre in Manchester.
On Saturday in Huddersfield, facing the team who humiliated them in the Patrons Cup Final earlier this year, Ipswich had to overcome the lack of key big man Colin Dockrell and ongoing injury problems which meant captain Tom Sadler could not play.
But Huddersfield had their own problems, having parted company with four professional Spanish players who formed a key part of the squad which finished a place above I[swich in the league.
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Ipswich started the game with an unorthodox looking line up. Leigh Greenan would start as the team’s only player with any real size, as coach Nick Drane complimented the seven-footer with guards Dylan Costelloe, Aaron Moseley, Josh Johnson and Isaac Omirin.
And with no big man available on the bench Ipswich drafted in assistant coach Matthew Ward, who hasn’t played a National League game for two years, into the line up as cover for Greenan.
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Ipswich slowly found the rhythm and began to grab hold of the game. Greenan, as ever, would be the game’s dominant force, but the visiting side used their different looking line up to great effect pressuring the inexperienced Huddersfield guards into several mistakes that created easy scores for the likes of Moseley, Costelloe and Luke Mascall-Wright.
Ipswich took a 23-16 lead to the bench at the end of the first quarter and continiued to build their lead in the second as Johnson shone on his way to 18 points for the game, Sam Newman came off the bench to make a big three and Omirin and Dapo Costa both made major defensive contributions.
By half-time, it was 49-33 Ipswich.
The third saw Ipswich put the game to bed, extending the lead to over 30 points.
Aaron Moseley caught fire in the period making four three pointers as part of his team high 22 points, and Costelloe continued to demonstrate why he is now such a key player in this team. By the end of the third the lead had exploded to 71-49.
And Ipswich sealed the win in the final quarter behind the dominant Greenan, who would finish with 21 points. Ward even got in on the act, scoring on the buzzer to the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
Drane said: “Third in the league, Patrons Cup Final and now the play-off final. What a season!
“With or without their Spanish influence, these guys are tough and that was a solid win, especially with two key guys missing.”
Drane added: “The set up is kind of weird – in every country, winning the playoffs is the ultimate for any team, the regular season is all about getting a good seeding for the postseason but here in England in senior competition, because of the promotion/relegation situation teams put more emphasis on finishing the regular season in the top two than they do winning the playoffs which I think is wrong.
“In every league in the world, it’s about getting to the post season and then winning a championship – make no mistake about it, on April 27th in Manchester, in our mind we are playing Derby Trailblazers for the national title.”