Ipswich Basketball Club fight back to beat Loughborough Riders and secure home game in play-offs
- Credit: Archant
English Basketball League Divison Two Loughborough Riders 64 Ipswich 67 An under-strength Ipswich side travelled to Loughborough and battled back from a 15-point deficit to secure a coveted home draw in the first round of the Division Two play-offs.
Captain Tom Sadler continues to be sidelined with the leg injury sustained during warm-ups at Mansfield a fortnight ago, James Borg is out indefinitely and Dylan Costello, who has been in inspiring form since his promotion to the starting five, was also missing with an ankle sprain.
So Ipswich travelled with just eight players, three of whom are still in the club’s Copleston High School-based academy.
And Loughborough started hot, ending the first quarter up 23-11.
Ipswich got their act together in the second period, but not before Loughborough extended their lead – at one point early in the quarter the score stood at 30-15, but a string of trips to the free throw line for Josh Johnson and Leigh Greenan allowed Ipswich to put some points on the board and in doing so, grab the momentum.
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By the half-time buzzer, even though Loughborough held a slender 32-30 lead, Ipswich had clearly wrested control of the game.
The third quarter saw Ipswich take their first lead as Colin Dockrell made four of four free throws for a pair of technical fouls on Loughborough’s Will Maynard, who was ejected from the game.
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Despite losing Maynard, Loughborough showed great character to rally and regain the lead by two points going into the fourth.
The final period was a dramatic affair as Ipswich youngster Sam Newman, playing extended minutes, made a big three pointer, and Johnson continued to carry much of the Ipswich scoring load with his relentless assaults on the basket. He led Ipswich with 29 points.
For the home side it was the sharp shooting Reis Haggith, who would finish with 22 points – including six three pointers – doing the bulk of the damage.
Behind the shooting of Haggith, with five minutes to play, the Riders held a six point lead.
However, this Ipswich team are battled hardened and have been in situations like this several times this season.
Behind the inspirational play of Johnson and seven-foot centre Leigh Greenan, Ipswich would hold Loughborough scoreless in the game’s final five minutes.
With 52 seconds left on the clock an Aaron Moseley jump shot from the corner gave Ipswich the lead and after another defensive stop an unsportsmanlike foul was called as high-flyer Luke Mascall-Wright attacked the rim, giving Ipswich two shots and possessions.
The 18-year-old Copleston product Mascall-Wright, who finished with 12 points, made one from two and with the resulting play Ipswich ran the clock down to secure a huge win.
Head coach Nick Drane said: “The was a massive win for us, really huge. To come to this place and get a win without two key players shows the depth we have in this team.”
Ipswich now travel to play Brixton next Sunday in the knowledge that the winner will take third place in the league.
More significantly for Ipswich, they have now gained a home court draw in the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, a phenomenal achievement.
Drane added “I’m so proud of what we have built here in Ipswich. We are little town in the East of England, in the Suffolk countryside and we have done this without one player being paid, without an import player and without the amazing facilities that you see in other parts of the country.
“What we do have is some amazing people working incredibly hard and some outstanding players - we also have the best supporters in the country.
The club’s first play-off game will be held on Sunday April 6 at Copleston, with a 4.30pm tip-off, and Drane urged the town to get behind his team.
He said: “Ipswich Town don’t have a game that day so we are inviting all the local sports fans to Copleston for this game instead – so many people say they didn’t realise the level we play at and then come back and support us every week, so we are really hoping to get our biggest crowd ever”.