Ipswich Basketball Club secure third place with win at Brixton Topcats

Luke Mascall-Wright finishes an emphatic dunk at Brixton

Luke Mascall-Wright finishes an emphatic dunk at Brixton - Credit: Archant

English Basketball League Division Two Brixton Topcats 56 Ipswich 67 Ipswich saw off the challenge of historic British basketball power Brixton on their home floor to secure a third-place finish in the league and a more favourable draw in the upcoming play-offs.

Captain Tom Sadler returned to action at Brixton

Captain Tom Sadler returned to action at Brixton - Credit: Archant

The Suffolk side were buoyed by the return of captain Tom Sadler, who had missed the last three games with a pulled muscle in his leg, and also starting guard Dylan Costelloe, who missed last week’s Loughborough game with an ankle sprain.

Josh Johnson nails a three-pointer at Brixton

Josh Johnson nails a three-pointer at Brixton - Credit: Archant

Star guard Josh Johnson and key back-up Sam Newman were also carrying knocks, meaning that the team was battered and bruised going into this must-win game.

Leigh Greenan inside against Brixton

Leigh Greenan inside against Brixton - Credit: Archant

Brixton started the brighter, jumping to a 19-17 lead after the first quarter, but Ipswich would step up a gear and seize control of the game in the second.

The Ipswich defence started to suffocate the Brixton offence, forcing them out of their rhythm and seeing the bigger Suffolk side enjoy an adavantage in rebounding the ball.

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On the offensive end Luke Mascall-Wright made a big play in transition and was red-hot from the foul line while 7-foot centre Leigh Greenan dominated the paint. Ipswich took a 38-32 lead into the interval.

In the third, as Brixton fought to get back in the game, electrifying high-flyer Mascal-Wright made a phenomenal defensive play, chasing down a Brixton player to block the ball onto the backboard.

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The 18-year-old, who led the team with 19 points, then made two free-throws before sinking a big three-pointer and a lay-up off a Leigh Greenan assist.

His seven straight points saw the Ipswich lead stretch to eight, 51-44, after three quarters.

And the final quarter saw Ipswich continue to excel behind Greenan’s dominance, and Mascall-Wright’s explosiveness.

Big three-pointers from Johnson and Sadler, who was playing a much reduced role due to his injury, helped close out a win for an impressive Ipswich side.

Johnson would finish with 12 points, backed by Greenan’s 11.

Head coach Nick Drane said: “This is one of our best wins of the season. Teams just don’t come to Brixton Rec and come out with double figure wins very often.

“This team’s character has never been in question but the improvement we have made since the Patrons Cup Final has been remarkable. We are playing great defence, holding teams to low scores which take the pressure of offensively.”

Ipswich now play Worcester Wolves, who finished in sixth place, for the fourth time this season in the first round of the play-offs on Sunday at Copleston (2pm tip-off).

There is added spice to that game – Worcester knocked Ipswich out of the Division Four play-offs two years ago and last season won in Ipswich in the second to last game of the season to steal the Division Three league title from under their noses.

- Elsewhere, the club’s youth teams enjoyed play-off wins at the weekend.

The under 18’s won on the road at the previously-unbeaten Northamptonshire Titans in the first round of their play-offs.

Led by Mascall-Wright, Newman, Henry French and Laurence Watsham, Ipswich enjoyed a five-point win and will now face Manchester in the next riund.

Meanwhile, the under 16’s cruised to an 81-64 win over the Northants Thunder, with Mark James, Freddie Ratliff and Ben Mobee leading the way.

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