Essex Rebels 114-94 Ipswich Basketball
NBL Division II
University of Essex, Colchester
Ipswich saw their promotion challenge ended as former stars Lee Hodges and Rory Winter helped Essex Rebels to the Division II (South) title with victory on Saturday.
Essex’s remarkable outside shooting, including seven three-pointers from reserve Dan Morton, proved the only difference in what was otherwise an even contest.
Ipswich added 12 triples of their own, including three from Luke Mascall-Wright (himself a former Essex player) and three off the bench from Jacob Morgan, but the hosts had an answer for run from the Suffolk side.
“We have to congratulate Essex on an excellent performance today, and their sustained success over the course of the season,” said Ipswich coach Adam Robinson.
“We knew from our win over them before Christmas that this is a very, very good side, and since then they’ve added Lee to the mix.
“I thought we were generally pretty good today, our offense was effective and we took what we were given – but they shot the ball remarkably well at times and took us out of the game with some great spells.”
The contest opened with a flurry of scoring, the first quarter ending 33-27 as Mascall-Wright and Essex’s American guard Masa Swain exchanged scores.
Ethan Price played commendable defence on Hodges, limiting him to three points in the first half, but as soon as Morton checked in, the game changed.
Essex connected on 10 three-pointers in a fourteen-minute stretch to end the first half with Morton and Swain combining for six of them, pushing the lead to 53-42 at the break.
Seven early points from Ben Winter jump-started Ipswich’s offense in the third quarter and they pulled within six points at 61-55, but Rory Winter and Hodges combined for 12 points to fuel a 21-11 run over the remainder of the period, restoring the hosts’ double-digit lead.
Morgan, Jake Eynon and Steve Hemmings all hit long-range shots to keep Ipswich ticking over in the final quarter, but seven more threes by Essex were enough for the hosts to ease to victory.
Ipswich have their final home game of the season this Saturday in a senior double-header at Copleston.