Cheshire Phoenix 78-61 Caledonia Gladiators (27-6, 37-30, 53-54)
(Phoenix: Anderson, 19; M.Evans, 18; Teague, 14 — Gladiators: Onwas, 14, Tape/Adams, 10; Fraser, 9)
Leading by as many as 21 points in the first half, Cheshire let their guard down, letting the Gladiators bravely fight back.
Caledonia were even able to take the lead on occasional spells before the Phoenix rose again in the fourth quarter, holding their opponents to just seven points as they flew away to victory.
“It was a great first quarter and a great fourth quarter. I think our defence in those quarters led to easy offence but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Phoenix coach Ben Thomas said.
“We have made big improvements since last week, bringing Marcus Evans in and he has helped on the offensive end with his production and creativity but in the end, this is a great win and we can build on it now going into next weekend.”
Jamell Anderson led the winners with 19 points, supported by 18 from Marcus Evans on his debut for the Phoenix.
“The game was amazing, the fans especially were amazing,” Anderson said afterwards, paying tribute to the crowd of 2,000 inside the EPSV.
“We had a great game overall, played tough defence and we listened to what the coach asked of us.”
Anderson added: “Basketball is a game of runs. They had their run, we had ours but I’m thankful with how we finished the game.”
Princeton Onwas paced Caledonia with 14 points. Patrick Tape was one rebound shy of a double-double with 10 points and nine boards.
Indeed, Cheshire got off to a blistering start, holding Caledonia scoreless for the first six minutes of play while going on an 18-0 burst.
A basket, inside by Tape, finally put points on the board for the Gladiators, but regardless, the Phoenix raced to a 27-6 lead after one.
No doubt reeling after the first quarter, Caledonia recovered in the second with a three-point play from Onwas. However, a triple from Evans restored Cheshire’s 20-point advantage with 7:12 remaining.
Caledonia responded with an 11-0 run, highlighted by a shot from distance by Fraser Malcolm to reduce Phoenix’s lead to 33-24, which was brought closer to 37-30 at the half.
After leading by as many as 21 points, the Phoenix were guilty of not looking after the ball. Three turnovers in their opening three possessions cost them dearly as the visitors scored comfortably in transition.
The once nervous Phoenix fans were again lifted, thanks to back-to-back one-hand dunks by Jamell Anderson, with his second one forcing Caledonia coach Gareth Murray into a timeout.
The electric spell from the hosts didn’t stop the visitors, and with 2:06 left in the third, a driving lay-up from David Sloan handed the Gladiators their first lead of the game at 52-51, and they managed to hold on to the one-point lead after three.
But, like they did in the first quarter, Caledonia were unable to make their opportunity count. A 17-2 start to the fourth handed the Phoenix a 70-56 lead that they never let go of.
A thrilling conclusion at the EPSV, but nothing compares to seeing it all live. To secure your ticket to a BBL game, click here.