Ipswich Basketball 100-67 Oxford Hoops
NBL Division 2
Copleston Sports Centre, Saturday
Ipswich Basketball 99-47 Bury Bulldogs
NBL National Cup Round 1
Copleston Sports Centre, Sunday
After nineteen months without a competitive fixture, Ipswich’s Senior Men roared back into life at the weekend with two significant wins, a host of dazzling plays and more than a few familiar faces returning to Copleston Sports Centre.
Lee Hodges, Joel Keeble, Colin Dockrell, Cameron Hawes and Anton Dixon all returned to action for Ipswich after years away from the club, and alongside new recruits Will Ashby, Brandon Moncrieffe and Bill Pryor, all played their parts in an entertaining opening weekend where Head Coach Adam Robinson was able to give everybody a chance to contribute – and brush off some of the dust from the long lay-off.
Lee Hodges was one of several returnees to Ipswich (Photo: Pavel Kricka)
It was returning guard Jake Eynon, however, who keyed the weekend’s victories with a combined 75 points across the two games. Eynon was particularly lethal from long range – shooting 9-13 from three-point range on his way to 43 points in Saturday’s win over Division 2 newcomers Oxford Hoops.
Both fixtures saw Ipswich set themselves up for comfortable victories in the first half. On Saturday, short-handed Oxford were able to keep pace with Ipswich for much of the first quarter before Keeble and Eynon keyed a run later in the quarter to build a cushion by the end of the first quarter. The outside shooters took over in a 31-13 second quarter, as Ipswich built a 54-27 advantage at half-time before seeing out the victory.
Sunday’s fixture produced a similar outcome in something of a ‘Suffolk derby’, with Division 3 Bury unable to contain Ipswich’s offensive onslaught from the outset. Leading 49-27 at the break, Ipswich were this time able to keep the pace up in the second half, as Kean Watkins impressed with a couple of highlight-reel plays on his senior debut.
“We’ve had two good tests this weekend and passed them both, which is a great start,” said Robinson. “Clearly there is more work to do and we can be better on both ends of the floor, but it was very useful to see the guys against live opposition and playing cohesive basketball.
“I thought Ben Michaels and Kean were very impressive in their first senior appearances, and despite the number of new arrivals we’ve had over the summer, the team looks like it is gelling really nicely.
“Once we get everyone healthy, we’re going to have a very, very strong roster.”
Ipswich are in double-header action again this weekend and depending on cup performances, could take the court as many as six more times in October.
Elsewhere around the club: Junior Wrap
There were winning starts for the Under-16 Boys and Under-14 Girls on the first weekend of junior action. Coach Danny Manning saw his side come back from conceding an 8-0 opening run to seal a 76-65 win at Brentwood Leopards behind 25 points from Daniel Mann, 19 from Joe Laycock, and some elite rebounding by Matthew Liddamore.
The Under-14 Girls had a slightly more comfortable run of things, returning from Cambridge Cats with a 53-11 victory. Julian Bacubag led all scorers with 10 points, Kara Bassil and Abbie-Grace Smythe added eight apiece, and Coach John Yorke reserved special praise for his team’s “truly excellent defence” which stifled the Cats throughout.
A tougher test awaited the Under-16 Girls, who fell to a 61-52 home defeat to Brentwood Fire. 14 points apiece from Holly Heard and Katie Yorke paced the hosts, but in a physical, competitive contest the Suffolk side’s height disadvantage eventually shone through and conceding baskets at the rim cost Ipswich a chance at victory.