Tomcats get off to a winning start

Ipswich Tomcats’ first-ever senior men’s game ended in success as the Midlands Conference Division Four side defeated fellow senior debutants, Lincoln Stars 74-69, last Saturday.

BASKETBALL: Ipswich Tomcats’ first-ever senior men’s game ended in success as the Midlands Conference Division Four side defeated fellow senior debutants, Lincoln Stars 74-69.

The Tomcats impressed in front of almost 200 fans at the Ipswich Academy with Jake Enyon, Joe Matthews and Ethan Dixon top-scoring with 30, 14 and 12 points respectively.

Lincoln caught the whole Dome by surprise with their dead-eye shooting from mid and long range, jumping out to an early 18-9 lead. However, as the Ipswich nerves calmed they came back into the game, with Ben Mead’s seven in the quarter and an Eynon three pointer at the end of the period taking the game to 18-16 to Lincoln.

In the second the two teams exchanged baskets, although everything Lincoln threw up was dropping while baskets were not coming easily for the Tomcats, although they continued to get to the foul line.

In the third Ipswich made things harder for themselves by turning the ball over six times in the first five minutes of the period which allowed Lincoln to build a 16-point lead.

The Tomcats needed a change if they were to avoid the game getting away from them before the final quarter and that came in the form of a switch in defensive intensity, which allowed the hosts to get out and run at their older and less athletic opponents.

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Femi Ariyo provided a huge defensive spark to anchor the defence which sparked Dixon into life, connecting on seven straight points to drastically reduce the lead. Eynon made two big threes during the run and then another on the buzzer the reduce the lead to just four going into the final period.

In the fourth it was clear that the Tomcats had the momentum, the defensive effort by all five players on the court went up another notch and with Eynon making another three.

The pressure defence was causing more problems for Lincoln when Matthews came alive on consecutive drives to the hole. Eynon, meanwhile, could have thrown anything up and it would have dropped (23 points in the second half), which was proved when the shot clock was winding down catching a pass and throwing up a shot in one motion, banking in the three.

“The second half performance, once we stopped turning the ball over, was excellent,” said coach, Nick Drane.

“We are so much better when we move the ball and make the extra pass - which we did in the second half, and when a guy catches fire like Jake did, you want that extra pass to end up in his hands, which it often did.

“The guys fed the fire which shows great teamwork and 30 points off the bench is a fantastic contribution from anyone let alone a seventeen-year old playing his first senior game at this level.

“However, it was the shift in defensive intensity that was the difference and I think this really could become a trademark of this team.”

The next Tomcats Men’s home game is on Saturday the 22nd October against the Bristol University Flyers. Entry is just �1 with children under the age of eleven getting in for free.

Ipswich are away at Worcester on Saturday, tip-off is at 2pm.

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