Watch Caleb Fuller’s highlight dunk as Ipswich reach play-off semi-final
- Credit: Archant
NBL Division Two play-off quarter-final Ipswich 98 London Westside 64 If ever there was a first possession that encapsulated how a basketball game was going to go, it was Saturday evening at Copleston.
After visiting fifth seeds London Westside won the opening tip, Caleb Fuller stole the ball and went coast-to-coast to dunk over the top of Piero Lusioni.
The bumper home crowd erupted, Ipswich’s confidence soared, and within three minutes the Suffolk side were 15-2 to the good. After Ipswich dominated the opening period to lead 27-16, their visitors never got back within single digits.
Luke Mascall-Wright was particularly effective in the first half as he delivered 17 of his game-high 32 points for Nick Drane’s men before half-time.
At one point in the first quarter, Mascall-Wright served up perhaps the highlight of the game, living up to his ‘Flight’ nickname as he attacked from the baseline and floated over two Westside defenders for another emphatic dunk.
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Ipswich kept the pace up in the second quarter, Colin Dockrell and Rory Winter combining for four three-pointers while Mascall-Wright continued to score with ease. By the half-time buzzer, Westside had staggered to just 28 points and Ipswich were turning the screw with a 50-28 lead.
The lead was solidified in the third quarter before Ipswich turned to their bench, giving Josh Apple and Veron Eze the opportunity to rack up several more crowd-pleasing baskets as Ipswich controlled the tempo for the rest of the game.
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Kayne Henry-McCalla, who at 17 is ranked among the ten best under-19s in the country (alongside Fuller), finally came alive in the fourth quarter but that he finished with nine points, seven of them scored in that final frame, was testament to how well he had been guarded by Ipswich’s Edson Ferreira.
In all, the hosts had too many options on offense for Westside, who won both the regular season match-ups between these two sides, to maintain that winning streak.
Leigh Greenan was unguardable under the basket, registering another double-double as he finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds; Fuller would end with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Dockrell’s 12 points and 10 rebounds made it a hat-trick of double-doubles for Ipswich for the first time this season, and Winter hit his first three three-point shots as he made his way to 11 points.
“That is about as resounding a win as you can hope for in a 4th versus 5th matchup,” reflected head coach Drane.
“I seem to have said this four or five times in the last two months, but that – again – was as good as this team have ever played basketball.
“Our intensity and energy to start the game was perfect – not a word I use lightly!
“We came into the game today off the back of two excellent practice sessions and with a sound understanding of how Westside would try to play, at both ends.
“Credit to my staff for the amount of preparation we put into this game, and to the players, for executing our game plan to the letter for three quarters until the game was way beyond reach.
Ipswich now advance to face regular-season champions Kent Crusaders away this weekend, and Drane laments that his side will not be playing in front of a Copleston crowd for some time.
“As a complete experience – when you factor in performance, teamwork, atmosphere and emotion – today was absolutely unforgettable,” he said.
“Talking to [assistant coaches] John Ellis and Rob Schatten after the game, we all agreed we haven’t been in a louder court since either of them have worked with me – when you think we’ve been to places with courtside commentators, played in the famous Brixton Rec, played against Division 1 sides in the cup, that’s just remarkable for a little single-court facility out here in Suffolk.
“It makes me incredibly proud of how far our club has come.”