Itchen Sixth Form College vs Copleston High School

Itchen made an incredible fourth quarter comeback from being 14 points down in the final period to claim a thrilling victory in overtime, finishing 111-108 on their home floor.

The game started with tremendous pace from both teams, as Copleston got the best of the early exchanges by connecting from behind the arc. Similar to Itchen’s previous game against Alec Reed, Copleston would go on to make 7 three’s in the quarter (including 5 in a row) to take a 17-point lead. A late flurry of points from Itchen’s Rhys Sundimalt and Matt Hughes closed the gap to 12 as the period ended.

Kieran Allan entered the game and injected some perimeter scoring for the home team to spark a 10-0 run, which pulled Itchen back into the game. Ethan Price would respond with a 5-0 run of his own as the teams would trade blows over the next 4 minutes. A 13-2 run to finish the quarter for Itchen, then saw them edge a two point lead, with a score of 48-46 going into the break.

Itchen’s second half hopes of Copleston cooling off from the three point line were short lived, as Ethan Price and Veron Eze kept the hot hand and allowed Copleston to take a 59-51 lead. Itchen would struggle in the early stages to break down the visitors 2-3 zone, but managed to connect from behind the three point line to tie the game at 59-59. After trading baskets, Ethan Price went on a 7-0 run, which Itchen would take a timeout to respond. The timeout did little to change the momentum however, as Copleston were able to pull away to a 75-66 lead.

The final quarter would be as dramatic as any game played this season in the EABL. With Copleston holding a 14-point lead with 6 minutes remaining, Peter Turay and Jeremy Sochan ignited a 10-0 run to close the gap to 81-85. Jeremy Sochan and Ethan Price would then trade baskets over the next few possessions, but Itchen still trailed by 4. An Itchen ball in the final minute, saw Rhys Sundimalt step into a deep three to close the gap to one point (88-89), before Veron Eze would go 1 for 2 at the line with 9 seconds remaining, leading to an Itchen timeout to advance the ball.

Itchen’s side out-of-bounds play was broken up by Ethan Price who was able to get a breakaway steal to finish with an emphatic dunk, giving Copleston a 92-88 lead. Jeremy Sochan inbounded the ball and dribbled the length of the floor pulling up and banking in a three point shot on the buzzer which was counted as an And One play with Ethan Price picking up his 5th foul. Jeremy Sochan was able to keep his nerve and connect on the free-throw taking the game to overtime at 92 apiece.

Copleston would go into overtime without star forward Ethan Price who had 33 points on the day, leaving Veron Eze and Ben Winter to carry the scoring load in the extra period. Veron Eze would continue his fine shooting form connecting on his 6th three of the game. Itchen were also able to connect with back to back three’s before Veron would continue his dominance offensively with some strong finishes in the paint. Rhys Sundimalt would make a timely triple and convert on 2 free throws to give Itchen a 5 point lead in the final moments of overtime. A timeout by Coach Nick Drane would result in fantastic execution for Veron Eze’s 7th three of the game to close the gap to 2 points.

Itchen would call a timeout and advance the ball, where Peter Turay would be fouled and go to the line to split 1-2 with 1 second remaining. A final attempt from the visitors was stolen, and Itchen ultimately escaped 111-108.

Coach Matt Guymon commented on the game saying,”What a fantastic game of basketball and a brilliant advertisement for U19 basketball. We had some of the best players in the country going toe-to-toe in a game that had everything.”

“Credit to Copleston who were excellent, with Veron Eze and Ethan Price showing their class at U17 at times we had no answer for either of them. We really struggled to defend the three point line due to poor positioning and closeouts, but I am proud of our guys and the resilience they showed to give themselves a chance to win down the stretch.”

Top scorers for Itchen were Rhys Sundimalt (24), Jeremy Sochan (23) and Peter Turay (22). Copleston were lead by Verson Eze (43), Ethan Price (33) and Ben Winter (13).

Itchen will play Oaklands on the road and JMA at home next week in games that will confirm playoff seeding, while Copleston will host Alec Reed.

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