Ipswich Basketball 73-66 Essex Rebels
NBL Division II
Copleston Sports Centre
An East Anglian derby at the top of the table went down to the wire on Saturday, before Ipswich Basketball sealed a dramatic come-from-behind victory over rivals Essex Rebels in front of a raucous crowd at Copleston Sports Centre.
Having led briefly in the opening exchanges, the Suffolk side then trailed for almost the entire contest before edging back in front when Luke Mascall-Wright hit a free throw with 3:54 remaining in the final quarter.
Ipswich Junior product Rory Winter returned to Copleston and faced off against younger brother Ben (Photo: Nick "Dad" Winter)
Essex had had the better of the first half, a stifling defensive effort powering the visitors to a 37-28 half-time lead as both sides struggled to find offensive rhythm.
Ipswich set the tone for the second half defensively, Blake Read and Mascall-Wright contributing to five straight stops as Ethan Price scored the first four points of the half for Ipswich.
With the lead reduced to five, Essex got the scoreboard moving on a Tom Child three before Read answered at the other end. The hosts continued to chip away behind nine points in the quarter from Mascall-Wright, but seven from Daniel Wegener kept Essex in front by a single point going into the final frame.
Another Child three-pointer restored a five-point advantage for the Rebels mid-way through a slow-paced fourth quarter, but Ben Winter tied the game with a deep three of his own a minute later.
By now Ipswich’s defence was at a level not previously reached this season, and Essex were restricted to putting up a succession of three-point attempts as Ipswich began to edge ahead. Price, Winter, Steve Hemmings and Jake Eynon all contributed to a decisive 12-2 scoring run as the hosts pushed their lead to as many as nine in the closing stages.
Price finished with a game-high 23 points. Mascall-Wright posted his fifth double-double of the season with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Eynon added 12 points and a game-high nine assists.
Child paced Essex with 12 points, while Wegener added 11 and American guard Austin Butler finished with 10.
“A phenomenal win for us,” said Ipswich coach Adam Robinson. “That’s the level we’ve been looking for all season.
“It’s great to have registered the win today and kept ourselves in touch at the top of the table, but our performance is almost more important – that’s the standard we need to be striving for from here out.”