Ipswich Basketball 92 – 71 Solent Kestrels II
National Basketball League Division II
Copleston Sports Centre, Ipswich
Southwark Pride 81 – 84 Ipswich Basketball
NBL National Cup
City of London Academy, London
Ipswich’s Senior Men opened their 2018-19 season under new head coach Adam Robinson with two wins this weekend.
Saturday’s fixture saw a packed Copleston crowd to welcome returning Ipswich Basketball Academy graduates Jake Eynon and Luke Mascall-Wright, both of whom have signed with Ipswich for the coming season. The two put on a show, Eynon leading all scorers with 29 while Mascall-Wright racked up a 17-point, 16-rebound double double.
Ipswich started strongly; Eynon had eight points in the first quarter while the returning Steve Hemmings and Marvin Isebor also got onto the scoresheet early on. The Kestrels came back into the game in the second quarter, keeping in touch behind some strong shooting from Ben Maranan to leave Ipswich leading 48-40 at half time.
After the break, a renewed attack by the hosts stretched the lead to as many as 18 in the third quarter, and took a relatively comfortable 72-55 lead into the final period before a lapse in defensive concentration allowed Solent to edge back into the game once more.
Robinson’s men sealed the gaps in the final quarter, limiting their guests to 16 points while Mascall-Wright capped the first win of the year with a sensational put-back dunk which brought the home crowd to their feet.
“A pleasing first weekend,” said Coach Robinson after the win.
“I feel like we have a lot of things to work on, certainly in allowing them to take their preferred shots on too many occasions, but offensively we are going to be a very fun team to watch.
“Moyo Adekeye and Harry Syrett were encouraging on debut, and our bench played valuable roles in an important win today.”
Ben Winter added an efficient 16 points for Ipswich. Adekeye, recently arrived from Charnwood College, finished with 11.
Sunday saw the team travel to central London to face Southwark Pride, another academy-based team who presented a very different challenge. The Pride started the game with incredible intensity, going 9-3 up in the early minutes and connecting on a key three-pointer at the end of the quarter to lead 24-15 after ten minutes.
Ipswich locked down for a 27-11 second quarter. At times, both teams had five guards on the court, resulting in a frenetic and often scrambling game of basketball. Blake Read played a key role in stemming Ipswich’s rebounding struggles, while Jacob Morgan added five points in the second quarter. The Suffolk side took a 42-35 lead into the break.
The Pride had no interest in giving the game up, however, and an attritional third quarter saw the hosts put together a 12-1 run, re-taking the lead on a three-point play by Garrod. Adekeye and Isebor replied for Ipswich, who took a slender lead into the final quarter.
Mascall-Wright was plagued by foul trouble, and it finally caught up with him midway through the fourth quarter on a contentious foul call. Before that, however, the athletic guard threw down two dunks on consecutive possessions to quieten the boisterous home support, the second coming off a perfectly-placed Winter lob pass.
Down by eight with four minutes to play, the Pride chipped away at the deficit to bring themselves level as the game entered its last minute. Adekeye came up with a pivotal steal and released Eynon, who was fouled at the other end and made both free throws – but Southwark scored through Adeoti to level the game again.
That left the ball in Eynon’s hands with the clock winding down. A hesitation dribble freed him from Hawes’ defence, and Eynon sank the game-winning shot from several feet beyond the line.
Eynon led all scorers for the second time in the weekend with 33 points. Mascall-Wright finished with 16 points and Adekeye chipped in another 11.
“That’s one way to win a game,” commented Robinson. “We left it late but I’m pleased with how we battled to get the win today.”