Having being embarrassed by the same team two weeks earlier and losing their two year unbeaten home record, this game belonged to McDonald’s Nottingham Hoods young England star Luke Mitchell, Nottingham born and only just eighteen he played the game of his life to propel Hoods into the Division Two playoff semi final against League champions Solent Kestrels.
Luke is potentially one of the best players to ever come out of Nottingham, he has been in the England U16 & U18 teams from the age of 13 and Hoods feel honoured that he has chosen to play for them for the last two seasons.
Not only did Luke have a great game but the whole squad played absolutely brilliantly, given that Ipswich had beaten the Hoods easily just two weeks before this display, in front of a capacity crowd, with extra chairs having to be brought in!! Add to that there were injuries to two key players and two players unavailable, in this context it was a remarkable performance against a very good Ipswich team.
Sadler put Ipswich in front on the way to another good personal display; Kirk Davis opened the scoring for Hoods before free throws from the visitors restored their lead. Step up Luke Mitchell for his first of many long range threes to push Hoods into a 5-4 lead. From then on points were exchanged with Miguel Lorenzo, Kirk and another three from Luke troubling the scoreboard as Hoods raced into a 17-12 lead with one and a half minutes of the first to go, before Ipswich pegged it back to 17-15 at the ned of the first quarter.
Spurred on by the large crowd the display in the second quarter was breathtaking with high energy defence Hoods restricted the visitors with just one scoring shot in the whole quarter a long range three to bring the game to 19-18 with six minutes to go in the quarter. It was all Hoods from there on in with Spaniard Alvaro Urbistondo started to find his 3 point range along with Captain Kieran Wright. Great defence and rebounding frustrated the visitors, Uichi Umekwe and Miguel blocking the opposition, great minutes from Hoods young up and coming star Matt Parker, helped the cause. The three point shots were raining down Luke & Kieran and points from Kirk saw Hoods go on a 20-0 run to end the best quarter of the season 21 up at 39-18 appreciated by a knowledgeable and noisy crowd.
It took Kieran to put the first points on the board for Hoods as there was a big push from the visitors with Sadler and Fuller putting Hoods under pressure. Miguel was continuing to hit points as well as a down town 3 pointer, Alvaro with free throws, Luke with threes, great work from Kallum Dunn in holding an energetic drive from the Bobcats. Late points from Uichi and a three pointer from Luke managed to stop Ipswich from pulling the lead back too much but they Ipswich had managed to take the quarter 24-19 the score at 58-42 to Hoods going into the fourth.
The crowd were aware of the possibility of an Ipswich comeback as they reduced the lead to just 14 within 17 seconds of the restart of the fourth. Kieran made 2, Luke made another three as the lead went out to 19. Ipswich pulled the lead back to just 15 before man of the match Luke Mitchell hit another three to steady the ship. From there the momentum was with Nottingham Hoods with great work from all the team, more points from Miguel and fittingly the final points was a 3 point shot from Luke Mitchell. Taking the quarter 22-13 and the match 80-55.
Luke’s statistics were remarkable, 26 points from 17 field goals which included 8 three point shots from 13 attempts, an amazing 51% success rate, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Miguel had a double double with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Kieran hit 14 points, which include 3 from 6 three points shots and a seriously impressive haul of 9 assists.
Top Scorers: Mitchell(26), Lorenzo(22), Wright(14), Urbistondo(8), Davis(6) & Umekwe(4)
A great performance from the team and the capacity crowd, why not take a break on the south coast next weekend and take in a basketball game and help you McDonalds Nottingham Hoods to a place in the play off final. Hoods last visit to Solent in December ended in a 3 point defeat, this was avenged in Mar at the Wildcats Arena with a nine point win, so a thrilling game should be on the cards.
The club would like to thank all the Merry Men for their great support all season and they look forward to seeing them all next season