BBL Weekend Action

BBL Championship
UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 94 (21,38,60,88) (Bell 26, P. Williams 18, Colbert 14)
Newcastle Eagles 103 (31,55,71,88) (Defoe 25, Chapman 20, Thomson 16)

The Newcastle Eagles demonstrated their BBL Championship credentials once more as they dug deep to beat the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 94-103 after overtime in one of the games of the season at the Plymouth Pavilions. The fact that these teams meet in the BBL Trophy Final next month only adds to the excitement.

The Eagles have now won 11 games in a row since the turn of the year, while the defeat was the Raiders’ first at home in their last 9 outings. All this came after the Eagles appeared to have the game won by half time, before an amazing second half fight-back from the hosts forced overtime.

Newcastle were led by Darius Defoe’s 25 points and 21 rebounds – perhaps the performance of his career – while Joe Chapman scored 20 and Andrew Thomson had a double-double of 16 points and 10 boards. Jeremy Bell led the Raiders with 26 points.

Newcastle controlled much of the first three quarters after an early 12-2 burst gave them an 8-16 lead and, soon after, Defoe’s second ‘and one’ play of the first quarter saw them up by double digits at 11-21. The Raiders staged a rally late in the first quarter as a 6-2 response made the score 17-23, but that didn’t last long and it was back out to 21-31 by the end of the period as Thomson scored on the buzzer.

The Eagles maintained their lead in the second period, until a 9-4 run, capped by Defoe’s dunk, stretched it to 33-48 with just under four minutes to play in the half. The Raiders responded with consecutive baskets, but another flurry from the Eagles – a 7-1 finish – saw the lead reach its first half peak on the buzzer at 38-55. Eagles were 7/14 from the three-point line at that point.

The third quarter saw the teams clash as the Raiders looked to get back into the game. The lead was narrowed to 54-67 when Jeremy Bell and Joe Chapman were involved in an altercation that saw them both receive a technical foul, before the Raiders narrowed the gap to 60-71 heading into what would be an astonishing fourth quarter.

The host team’s momentum carried into the fourth despite Williams being called for an unsportsmanlike foul early on. A couple of early scores, including a three-pointer from Bell, sparked a 15-4 run narrow that narrowed the gap to single figures for the first time since the first quarter at 77-78 with 4.33 to play.

Eagles called time out, only for the Raiders to come out and score the next basket to snatch an amazing lead and they still led 86-83 inside the final minute when Bell scored a basket that looked like it might cap an amazing comeback.

But a Paul Gause basket with 19 seconds remaining, followed by Williams missing 2/2 from the line for the hosts (the team were 15/39 at the line on the night), left the door open for Charles Smith to return to haunt the Raiders as he hit a triple on the buzzer to force overtime.

The Eagles were decisive in overtime as they took the lead immediately and never looked back as they went on an 11-3 run.

BBL Championship
Durham Wildcats 70 (14,39,51) (Flaherty 19, P. Elderkin 18, Pearce 8)
Worcester Wolves 90 (24,40,67) (Freeman 29, Gordon 18, Prezzie-Blue 15)

The Worcester Wolves completed a season sweep over the Durham Wildcats as a powerful second half saw them come out 70-90 winners in the North East as they try to stay in touch with the Newcastle Eagles at the summit of the BBL Championship table. The result saw the Wolves win their third straight game, while the Wildcats were condemned to their third straight defeat.

Tommy Freeman led the Wolves with 29 points, supported by 18 from Richie Gordon and 15 from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue. The hosts were led by Mario Flaherty’s efforts as he scored 19 points.

The first half saw two distinctly different quarters as, first, the Wolves took a commanding lead at 14-24 after ten minutes, behind Freeman’s points, only for the Wildcats to win the second stanza by 25-16 to get within one point at 39-40 by the break to set up a tantalising second half.

But that wasn’t to be as the Wolves found their feet and restricted their hosts to just 12 points in the third stanza. Still only separated by four points after five minutes, the Wolves used an 11-0 run to lead 51-67 by the end of the period with Freeman already on 24 points by that stage.

The Wildcats made a go of it after the break, getting the gap down to 10 at 64-74, but the visitors saw the game out with a dominant finish – their lead peaked at 23 within the final two minutes before finishing at 70-90.

BBL Championship
One Health Sharks Sheffield 110 (17,38,74) (Langhurst 34, Gachette 24, Tuck 24)
Prestige Homes MK Lions 87 (21,43,60) (Gill 21)

The One Health Sharks Sheffield beat the Prestige Homes MK Lions 110-87 to win back-to-back games for the first time since December, when they also beat the Lions, after four previous defeats in February. The defeat sees the Lions lose their fourth straight game in the month.

The Sharks used a dominant second half performance – winning it by 28 points – to turn round a half time deficit. Jimmy Langhurst led the scoring for the hosts with 34 points, while Mike Tuck and Zach Gachette had 24 points each. Stefan Gill led the Lions with 21 points.

The Lions had led through the majority of the first half: 17-21 at the end of the first quarter and 38-43 by the half way point. However, that would provide few clues as to what would come.

The Sharks came out a different team in the third quarter, turning the game completely on its head. After chipping away through the first five minutes to tie the game up, they finished the third quarter with a 17-4 surge that included 10 points for Gachette to lead 74-60, nearly doubling their first half score in the third quarter alone.

They only pushed on in the fourth quarter and they went through the century mark at 100-81 with three minutes to play. Tempers frayed as the Lions’ Demarius Bolds was ejected for his second technical foul and Stefan Gill and Jimmy Langhurst each picked up a technical. But that didn’t dampen Sheffield’s spirits as they ran out 110-87 victors after going 53-31 in an astounding fifteen minutes to end the game.