Westminster Warriors claim 2nd successive Patrons Cup title

Westminster Warriors claimed their 2nd successive Patrons Cup title with a comfortable 98-64 win over Ipswich.

The game was a close affair at the half, with the Warriors leading by just six going into the break. That gap was soon narrowed to four points after an early Ipswich basket, but from there it was all Westminster as they would eventually coast to the final buzzer.

MVP honours went to Westminster’s Juan Manning after a hot shooting performance. He went 8-13 from the floor for 20 points, adding four rebounds, six assists and two steals.

Anyone judging this game purely on the final score would have struggled to accept how evenly matched these sides were in the first half. Opening the content by trading three pointers, that set the tone for a fast paced ten minutes during the opening frame. As favourites in the contest, many would have expected Westminster to jump out to early lead but 10 points from the impressive Ethan Price (23 points, five rebounds) and two quick fouls on Westminster’s Justin Hitchman (15 points, seven rebounds) stunted the Warriors progress and left the game poised at 20-18 Ipswich at the first change.

The second quarter brought more of the same for Price as he added a further 11 points to his tally including some impressive dunks and a huge put back slam to get the travelling fans from Suffolk on their feet. Eventual MVP Manning opened his account in the game’s second quarter, scoring 10 of his 20 points before the half. That production helped spark a 10-0 scoring run that erased the Ipswich advantage and pushed the reigning Patrons Cup champions into a lead they’d never relinquish. Although the half time buzzer brought an end to Price’s highlight plays, his efforts couldn’t keep Westminster at bay with the London side up 43-37 going into the break.

A six-point difference quickly reached double digits early in the 3rd quarter as Westminster sought to put the game away early. A 28-9 quarter all but extinguished any doubt regarding who the victor would be, with Westminster also outscoring their opponents in the 4th quarter for good measure. Manning would use the 2nd half to put the finishing touches on his MVP performance, enjoying ample support from Jon Johnson (16 points, 13 rebounds, two assists), Hitchman and Florian Damptey (10 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals). A 14-0 Westminster run in that 2nd half highlighted the difference in quality between the sides over the final 20 minutes, leading to a lopsided score line come the final buzzer.

Westminster Warriors Player/Coach Jon Johnson: “We expected Ipswich to be high energy, to come out of the blocks full of life as young guys. We knew they’d make it difficult for us in the first half but we knew if we stuck together and stuck to our game plan, it would show as the game wore on. The first half was a bit closer than I would have liked, but the guys dug in there.”

Ipswich Head Coach John Ellis: “That was a tough one. Westminster are a tough, veteran, well drilled team and it showed in the second half. We game planned for the first half to play out as it did, and it showed, we scrapped and battled to hang in there, and if we could have kept playing with no half time it could have been good! But that break was tough and then maybe the occasion got to the team after that.”