Basketball team nets success

THE East of England Under-13 basketball squad impressively won all three matches of an inter-regional tournament in Leicester recently with a large representation of Ipswich players.

Stuart Watson

THE East of England Under-13 basketball squad impressively won all three matches of an inter-regional tournament in Leicester recently with a large representation of Ipswich players.

With half of the ten-strong squad playing at Ipswich Basketball Club, the East of England beat the East Midlands, Yorkshire and the West Midlands, with all three wins coming by more than 20 points.

The star of the day was undoubtedly Ben Mead, the 6ft 3in Ipswich Tomcat took advantage of his size in games against the West Midlands and Yorkshire, while against the East Midlands it was his outside shot and smooth moves that saw him dominate against a giant 6ft 9in 13-year-old.

Just as exciting as Mead's performance was the fact that Suffolk could boast no less than six of the ten players selected to play.

Mead was joined by club-mates Luke Mascall-Wright, Ronnie Baylark, Sam Newman and Robinson Maka, the last two still a year young for the competition.

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The county's representation wasn't all from Ipswich though, Bury Bulldog player Leo Zwandhal-Burns making up the half-dozen Suffolk players in the squad.

The remaining players in the squad were made up from Essex in the form of Brentwood Fire's Joe Davies, Matt Elliot and George Jarvis and Baddow Eagle's Matt Hughes.

The strong performance is particularly promising as the same squad travel to Lilleshall next month for the National Inter-Regional English Schools Championships.

“I think the team is coming along nicely and we will be as well prepared as any team at Lilleshall,” said coach Nick Drane. “However, we can't get carried away with the results in Leicester.

“While we should be proud of winning the competition we should expect to see a very different standard of opposition in Lilleshall - I don't believe for one second that the standard of competition in Leicester was anything like what we will see when it comes to the real thing.

“That said, you can only beat what is in front of you and we did that with something left in the tank today. And yes, obviously I would be lying if I said I wasn't proud of the fact that Suffolk and Ipswich are both so well represented, it's a reflection of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

IPSWICH Basketball Coach Nick Drane is confident that basketball can make just as big an impact on the east side of town as it has the west following the shift of the Community Basketball Project from Westbourne to Copleston.

Ever since the project was launched four years ago it has been based out of the Westbourne catchment area, however, this year academic year it will shift over to Copleston Sports College and its feeder schools.

Drane will run Copleston High School's basketball team during lunch breaks and will visit numerous of its feeder primary schools throughout the academic year to deliver after-school sessions.

The shift in patch comes after Rob Terry, Project Development Manager of the Copleston School Sport Partnership, provided funded for Drane's post.

Drane said: “I'm really excited about the project moving across town. I've had a great four years at Westbourne, we've built a real basketball culture there and that has been reflected in the number of people from that community that are enjoying great success with Ipswich Basketball Club.

“There number of young people who have benefitted from the project is literally in the thousands. The Copleston partnership now represents a new challenge and the pressure is on after the success at Westbourne.

“I'm really excited about working with the Sports College as well as the School Sports Partnership, there is a great atmosphere at this place and I'm loving every minute of it so far.

“I must thank Westbourne for all they did for us, in my eyes it will always be the spiritual home of my first Tomcats team.”