Leigh Greenan and Caleb Fuller star as Ipswich beat Tees Valley
- Credit: Archant
NBL Division Two Ipswich 98 Tees Valley Mohawks 77 Leigh Greenan returned to full fitness and duly exploded for 29 points and 13 rebounds as Ipswich turned on the style and turned up the pressure to beat Tees Valley Mohawks at Copleston on Saturday.
Caleb Fuller was the star of the show on the other end of the floor. The seventeen-year-old drew the responsibility of matching up with Charlton Jones, the Tees Valley star who is averaging over 33 points per game this season, by far the highest scorer in Division II.
Fuller frustrated and restricted Jones for extensive periods of the game, and held the prolific American to just 14 points while putting up ten of his own.
Without their talisman on form, the visitors did more than enough to stay in the game in the first half, which finished deadlocked at 48-48. Greenan was unstoppable in the early minutes of the game, and posted 19 points in the first half as he destroyed Tees Valley’s interior defence, while the athleticism of Ipswich’s wings caused endless problems for the visitors.
At the other end, however, forwards Ben Seipt and Josh Djanoglu hit enough shots to keep pace with Ipswich. Seipt would keep going in the second half as he finished with 24 points, but Djanoglu’s ten all came before half-time.
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In the opening minutes of the second half, Ipswich used high-pressure defence and several scores by Tom Sadler and Edson Ferreira to open up a ten point lead. Jones came back to make a couple of shots and the Mohawks did get back within two, but from there on Ipswich were exceptional at both ends.
“Our second-half defence today was as good as I’ve seen us play,” said coach Nick Drane. “We stuck to our game plan, Caleb was sensational in holding the league’s leading scorer 19 points below his average, and collectively we rebounded hard and helped whenever we needed to.
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“At the other end, we honestly played some incredible basketball in the second half. Our ball movement and finishing were top-drawer and we got contributions from all over the place.
“We had a massive crowd in here again, and their support was phenomenal for the entire game – I can’t tell you how much of a difference that makes for our players.
“When your team is on a run like we were for the opening minutes of the third quarter, or for most of the fourth, and there’s 250 people lining the court building the atmosphere as you get steals, Leigh blocks shots, and we’re making dunks and threes at the other end – that can be one of the best experiences in sport.”
As well as Greenan’s 29 and Fuller’s ten points, Sadler added eleven for Ipswich while Ferreira finished with seven points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
And captain Sadler was especially pleased to see his squad pull away in the second half rather than being drawn into a shootout with the Mohawks.
“We showed an outstanding will to win today and ok, they were very, very good in the first half, but coming out of half-time we knew that if we kept Jones quiet then we would be in a great position.
“Credit to Tees Valley –they were really on it in the first half, some of their guys got hot and gave us genuine headaches.
“But our second half of basketball was next-level, both the efficiency on offense, and our individual and team defence. Young Caleb was outstanding today, our bench were brilliant again, and we over-powered them down the stretch.”
Ipswich have now won six of their last eight games to improve to 10-8 for the season. They are back on the road next weekend, making the long trip north to face struggling Doncaster Eagles, who are in the midst of a relegation battle.
“We know Doncaster need wins now, so we have to be ready for another battle next weekend,” Drane warned.