Sam Newman sizzles, but Ipswich Basketball Club lose at Lancashire Spinners

Sam Newman was superb against Lancashire

Sam Newman was superb against Lancashire - Credit: Archant

EBL Division Two Lancashire Spinners 98 Ipswich 92 Ipswich’s promotion hopes are fading fast after they finished on the losing side of a thrilling game with the league leaders in Greater Manchester on Saturday.

The Suffolk side, pre-season favourites to clinch one of the top two places which would see them promoted to Division One of the National League, faced a Lancashire team who started the season as league newcomers but have evolved into a powerhouse.

And what transpired was a game some called the best of the season.

The Ipswich squad, already minus star guard Josh Johnson, was ailing as 7-foot Leigh Greenan battled illness, and exciting youngster Luke Mascall-Wright played with bronchitis. In contrast, the Spinners’ star combo of guard Steven Gayle and 6ft 10ins centre Steven Vaughan were in rude health. And the Spinners started well, with both Gayle and Josh Houghton connecting on three pointers early on.

Sadler had the hot hand for the away team, but the Spinners held on for a 31-28 lead at the end of the first stanza.

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Then in the second quarter it was Spinners’ young star Vaughan who set the game alight.

Containing the ill Greenan with terrific defence, he scored repeatedly both inside and out.

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While Greenan has dominated many games this season, Vaughan won their battle on Saturday, finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds to Greenan’s 8 points and 8 rebounds.

The Spinners built a nine-point lead at half-time and had stretched that to 17 midway through the final quarter behind 27 points from Gayle and 16 from Houghton.

But Ipswich are a battle-hardened group, and threatened to steal the game with a remarkable comeback led by Sam Newman, who rained in three-point shots and almost single-handedly dragged the Suffolk side back into it. For the game, Ipswich made 10 of their 20 three-point shots, a sizzling shooting effort.

In the end the furious rally was not quite enough, with the Spinners hitting their free throws to secure a six-point win.

Ipswich head coach Nick Drane said after the game that he felt their promotion dreams were over.

“That’s us back in Division 2 next season, but weirdly I’m relieved.

“We knew we killed ourselves with back to back home losses right before Christmas, but while there was still hope we still kept fighting and believing, but this isn’t a loss that has cost us – the damage was done much earlier in the season. Despite the result, that was possibly our best performance of the season.”

With just six games left, Ipswich cannot afford another defeat this season if they are to have any chance of promotion. As it stands, they’re relying on other teams slipping up.

They travel to Loughborough Riders this Saturday.

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