BBL Weekend round up

Wildcats dancing

Durham Wildcats 90 (17,38,69) (Capocci 25, Pearce 24, P.Elderkin 13)
Cheshire Jets 86 (29,39,64) (O’Reilly 23, Schneck 21, Cole 17)

The Durham Wildcats have won for the first time in 15 outings – a run stretching back to the start of November – after defeating fellow playoff hopefuls the Cheshire Jets 90-86 in the North East.

That condemned the Jets to their sixth straight defeat and saw the Wildcats take the head-to-head between the teams.

Mike Capocci led the victors with 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, while Chris Pearce added 24 points. The Jets were led by 23 points from Colin O’Reilly. The game was settled in the final minute, after both teams had spells in which they looked as though they might take control sooner.

A half of two quarters saw the Jets run away with the game early on, before the Wildcats found their stride. The visitors started with a rapid 9-0 run that included an old-fashioned three-point play from Dan Briglia and 4 points for Bill Cole, as the hosts failed to score in the opening two and a half minutes.

Mario Flaherty notched the Wildcats’ first basket, but the run continued as the Jets were 18-4 up after five minutes with Cole adding a three-pointer. The Wildcats were down by as much as 10-28 within the final two minutes of the period, but struck back before the buzzer with a Capocci triple and 4 points from Pearce helping them to 17-29.

And a 17-2 start to the second stanza – making the run 24-3 across the break – amazingly saw the Wildcats take their first lead of the game at 31 as Pearce added another 10 points, including a three-pointer; the Jets scored just once in the opening six and a half minutes of the quarter, having scored a massive 29 points in the first period. But the Jets steadied themselves before the half-time break, re-taking the lead on Nathan Schall’s score and holding it through to the half at 38-39.

The Wildcats gained the ascendancy after the break as early three-pointers from Pearce and Capocci helped them off to a 10-3 start for a 48-42 lead. The run continued for the home team and it became double-figures at 57-46 on DJ Galvin’s basket midway through the period.

But the Jets hit back with the next five points, including an Adam Brown three-pointer, and were back to within one shot after O’Reilly’s triple, then forcing a 24 second turnover and Matt Schneck making it 61-59.

But Paul Elderkin scored the next two baskets, and another before the quarter was out, to see the Wildcats up 69-64 going into the decisive quarter.

O’Reilly’s three-pointer made the score 71-69 early in the fourth, only for Bucci to respond in kind to settle the home nerves. But the game was teetering on a knife-edge as a nervy period ensued before the Jets held their hosts scoreless for two minutes and took the lead at 76-77 on Schneck’s basket.

Pearce tied the game with a free-throw inside the final four minutes, before a Capocci ‘and-one’ play was matched by Brown’s triple for the Jets, for a tie at 80 with three minutes to play.

From there, the game saw four lead changes and two further ties: Cole put the Jets in front before a Capocci three-pointer made the score 83-82. The Jets took the lead inside the final minute on a pair of Cole free-throws but Elderkin responded immediately and, after Brown missed, DJ Galvin made 2/2 at the line to put the Wildcats up 89-86 with 11 seconds to play.

Cole missed the three-pointer to tie the game with four seconds left, before Elderkin sealed it at the line.


BBL Championship
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 82 (23,39,52) (Wierzbicki 21, Sullivan 16, Hardy/Rundles 12)
Glasgow Rocks 87 (16,33,57) (Murray 26, Huffor 17, Green 14)

The Glasgow Rocks have put consecutive losses behind them as they won their first game of 2012, beating the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 82-87 in the East Midlands.

That condemned the Riders to back-to-back home defeats, as both teams pursue top four positions in the BBL Championship table.

The Rocks were led by 26 points and 7 rebounds from Gareth Murray, while Danny Huffor scored 17 points on 3/4 shooting from beyond the arc. Bradd Wierzbicki shot 3/5 from long range on his way to 21 points to lead the hosts.

The teams traded baskets to 4-4 in a slow start to the game, before the Riders rattled off the next six points as Hardy dunked, then blocked at the other end, and Wierzbicki hit a three-pointer. Despite the Rocks getting back to within three, baskets from Barry Lamble and Jamell Anderson off the bench helped the Riders to a 23-16 lead after the opening ten minutes.

After the hosts flirted with a double-digit lead as Rundles opened the scoring in the second period, the Rocks narrowed the gap as Murray and Huffor each hit five points, with both scoring a three-pointer, for a one possession game at 33-31 midway through.

But the Rocks would score just once in the next three minutes as baskets from Brett Royster and Wierzbicki helped the Riders back into the ascendancy at 39-33 going into the locker rooms.

They maintained that margin through the first four minutes of the third quarter as the teams traded baskets, but the Rocks showed signs of what was to come as Huffor and Cranston made consecutive scores, to make it 47-45, and forced the Riders into a timeout.

The Riders led 50-47 when their visitors made the decisive move: a pair of Wedemire free-throws sparked a 10-0 surge in which Huffor scored the other 8, including two three-pointers. The Riders didn’t score for three minutes and found themselves trailing 52-57 going into a crucial fourth quarter.

But the Rocks only pushed on in the fourth, despite Drew Sullivan netting an early three-pointer. Sterling Davis responded with one of his own and the Rocks maintained a buffer of around six points until their lead went through the double-digit barrier at 61-71 on Murray’s three-pointer inside the final five minutes.

But the game was far from done as the Riders chipped away and made a last-ditch salvo. A 7-0 run, capped by a Rundles triple, got them back to within one shot at 72-75 with two minutes to play, only for the Rocks to go back out to nine points at 74-83 one minute later with Mychal Green making a vital three-point play.

But a Wierzbicki three-pointer with 23 seconds left, and one from Sullivan with 18 seconds left, meant that the Riders were within reach at 82-85. However the Rocks held out as Green made two crucial free-throws and Sterling Davis stole the ball from Sullivan to settle matters at the end.


Eagles soar to summit

The Newcastle Eagles took advantage of the Worcester Wolves’ defeat on Friday night to move four points clear at the top of the BBL Championship table.

Meanwhile, the One Health Sharks Sheffield and Prestige Homes MK Lions moved themselves into a three-way tie with the Glasgow Rocks for fifth place as both picked up important victories.

The Eagles’ 94-77 win over the Mersey Tigers at Sport Central was not as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, especially after a disappointing end to the first half for the home side.

The Tigers outscored their hosts 22-2 in the last three minutes of the half to trail by a single point at 38-37 at the interval.

But the second half brought a response from the Eagles as they held off a resilient Mersey outfit.

Charles Smith enjoyed a good night as he led the team in points and rebounds with a double-double 22 points, 10 rebounds performance.

The Eagles now hold a four-point lead at the top of the table thanks to the efforts of the Sharks as they defeated second-placed Worcester in a thrilling contest that ended 74-73.

A Tommy Freeman basket gave the Wolves the lead at 72-73 with 15 seconds remaining in the game, but Jimmy Langhurst scored what proved to be the winning basket for the home side with just 7.5 seconds remaining.

Worcester had the opportunity to win the game coming out of the time-out, but Arnas Kazlauskas’ field-goal attempt missed as time expired to hand the Sharks the victory.

In the final game of the night, the Lions kept their play-off aspirations alive thanks to an 82-73 victory at the MK Basketball Arena.

Adrien Sturt gave the stand-out performance for the Lions with 20 points as they enjoyed a little more comfort in victory compared with Friday’s other winners.


Riders look ahead

Leicester Riders guard Bradd Wierzbicki expects resilience ahead of his side’s Championship double-header following defeat last weekend.

Riders marginally lost out by two points as Milton Keynes Lions were victorious with a 77-75 win last Saturday at the John Sandford Centre.

The defeat saw the Riders slide 10 points behind BBL Championship leaders Newcastle Eagles but the third-placed outfit do have four games in hand.

However, the Riders are back on court this weekend with two tests ahead of them as Glasgow Rocks and Cheshire Jets line up to face the third-place side.

However, despite suffering loss on home territory last weekend Wierzbicki believes it is vital for the Leicester side to forward if they are going to have a successful two days.

“It’s going to be key to bounce back after the loss against Lions,” he toldĀ

“With two games pretty much every single weekend, you just can’t dwell on the losses. We really can’t afford to think about what happened last weekend because we have to be ready for when we play Glasgow Rocks and Cheshire Jets.”