VIDEO & GALLERY: Ipswich Basketball Club fight for crucial victory over Derby Trailblazers
- Credit: Archant
EBL Division Two Ipswich 75 Derby Trailblazers 70 Ipswich Basketball head coach Nick Drane hailed the character of his team after they defeated bitter rivals the Derby Trailblazers in a blood and guts battle at Copleston on Sunday.
The Suffolk side went into the game knowing that only a win would suffice and keep alive their dreams of a third consecutive English Basketball League promotion.
And, hosting the top-of-the-table Trailblazers, Ipswich turned in a complete team performance in front of a packed and very noisy home crowd.
Scrapping and clawing for every loose ball and using their superior size to win the rebounding battle, Ipswich embraced the physical challenge which Derby brought from the Midlands.
Inspired by captain Tom Sadler, who played the whole game, lightning-fast guard Josh Johnson and high-energy sparkplug Luke Mascall-Wright, Ipswich led throughout the first three quarters and were up 56-52 heading into the final stanza.
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But that final 10 minutes was akin to a heavyweight title fight, with both sides taking turns to pummel each other onto the ropes.
Derby tied the game at 59 before a controversial call saw the momentum swing in their favour.
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Surrounded by a triple-team, star Ipswich big man Leigh Greenan – in foul trouble for much of the game –appeared to take an elbow to the face as he tried to battle out of it.
But, despite Greenan being left with a bloody head wound, he was called for travelling and subsequently handed a technical foul as he argued the decision.
Energised, Derby raced to their biggest lead of the game at 66-61 and Ipswich looked set to let another game slip from their grasp late on – a habit which has stalled their season so far.But Ipswich were not done, and instead landed a few haymakers of their own to turn the tide back in their favour.
Greenan returned, clad in a Terry Butcher-style head bandage, and helped lift his squad back into a 66-66 tie.
He fouled out as Derby took a 68-66 lead, but two huge baskets by replacement Colin Dockrell and free throws from Johnson and Aaron Moseley saw Ipswich nursing a 73-70 advantage with 26 seconds left.
And he duly did, sinking both free throws to ice the game and send the home fans home happy.
Drane said: “Our character today was out of this world.
“They came of age a little bit. Our bench was just massive – Colin, Luke and Sam Newman were all huge.
“You can have all the tactics in the world, but you have to dig in – and that’s what won us the game.”