BBL Play-offs Quarter Finals, 1st Leg
Cheshire Phoenix 102-86 Caledonia Gladiators
(Phoenix – Archibald 35, Evans 18, Anderson 15; Gladiators – Durham 23, Bailey 17, Sloan 16)
BBL Play-offs Quarter Finals, 1st Leg
Sheffield Sharks 70-79 Leicester Riders
(Sharks – Koch 17, Pipkins 13, Nelson 11; Riders – Mackenzie 19, Loving 18, Nelson-Henry 12)
BBL Play-offs Quarter Finals, 1st Leg
Newcastle Eagles 78-108 London Lions (16-31, 23-27, 20-27, 19-26)
(Eagles – Mockford 31, Johnson 14, Gordon 9; Lions – Sharma 18, Oni 14, Best 14)
Amorie Archibald’s scintillating 35-point performance bolstered the shorthanded Cheshire Phoenix to a 102-86 victory over Caledonia Gladiators.
He shot 60 percent from the field, including five of seven from behind the arc to put daylight between the sides in the second half.
This is the first time that the sides have played since the BBL Trophy final in which Caledonia came out on top.
Will Neighbour returned to the Cheshire side after a spell out with injury. He slotted straight into the starting line-up as one of only two natural bigs in the Phoenix roster.
Archibald drained the three to open the game, before taking the ball inside on the following offence and converting the three-point play following a foul on his finish.
7 straight Gladiators points gave them their first lead thanks to the corner three from Al Durham following great post play from Jeremiah Bailey.
Bailey’s dominance saw Gladiators stretch out to a 13-8 lead after the Forward threw the lob to himself off the glass and stuffed it through Forcing Ben Thomas into a timeout.
Maceo Jack and Jamell Anderson hit a triple each to slash the deficit to three points as the shorthanded hosts continued to fight against the taller roster of Caledonia.
The Nix restored their lead as Jack found Anderson with a feed through the heart of the defence; the GB forward finished the alley-oop play with a reverse lay-up off the glass to give Cheshire a 21-19 advantage.
Archibald took the ball coast-to-coast and flushed the tomahawk finish, before Jack threw down the dunk after the lob from Marcus Evans to raise the Ellesmere Port Sports Village roof. Coach Thomas’ side’s late run saw them take a 28-21 lead through one.
The Phoenix transition play was in full flow thanks to their active hands on defence. Evans’ steal was capitalised on as Anderson completed the simple finger-roll finish. The lead was then extended into double-digits as Anderson’s pickpocketing allowed Jack to convert, with the Gladiators struggling to secure the ball.
Archibald was the first player to hit double figures with another slash to the basket ending with a finish. David Sloan cancelled the play out and provided a scoring spark for the visitors with a pull-up two from the elbow.
Sloan cut the Cheshire lead to two points with a pair of back-to-back threes, but the Gladiators couldn’t slow down their turnover rate and continued gifting opportunities to their opponents.
The game turned scrappy as both sides missed multiple baskets each through the frenetic end to the first half. Archibald continued to pile on the points finishing the half with 16 points. His finesse from mid-range kept the scoreline in the Nix’s favour as they led 53-48 at half time.
Gladiators came out of the break and ties the scores in less than a minute thanks to Bailey and Princeton Onwas. Though Cheshire started slower in the second half, they picked up their play and went on a scoring tear to blow the game wide open.
Archibald, Anderson, and Larry Austin pushed the Nix lead back out to six, and after some free throws for the visitors Archibald took off with back-to-back threes after a pair from Austin at the line. Jack continued to get good looks, but while he couldn’t add to the three-point barrage Austin found him with the feed leading to a monster slam to make it a 13-point game.
Durham and Fahro Alihodzic stayed composed for the Gladiators and brought the difference back down to seven ahead of the fourth quarter.
Cheshire’s scoring exploded once again in the closing 10 minutes with Amorie Archibald pushing his total to 35 points on the night. As Cheshire had been doing since injuries forced them to field a shallower roster, they shared the points extremely well around the team and built their lead to as many as 21 points in the fourth, with Caledonia unable to find a way to slow them down. The Scottish side tried to cut the Phoenix lead as much as possible but will have to overcome a 16-point aggregate difference to progress when they play again tomorrow afternoon.
Ben Thomas’ side go into tomorrow’s leg on the back of a 102-86 victory.
Leicester Riders were able to fend off Sheffield Sharks in their first Playoff Quarter-Final matchup, with impressive three-point shooting from Marc Loving giving them a 79-70 win.
Kimbal Mackenzie led the Leicester scoring charge with 19, as Loving picked up 18. It was a thrilling battle in the post between Bennett Koch and Darien Nelson-Henry who both finished in double-digits; Koch was the leading scorer for the Sharks.
Koch opened Sheffield’s account with four points to give the hosts an early lead, and they looked strong in the first minutes of the game as Jalon Pipkins drained the step back three to make it a seven-two opening run.
Riders clawed themselves back into the game through Carrington Love and Nelson-Henry before Koch put in his third basket. Nelson-Henry responded with another inside two before Loving claimed the first outside score of the game, giving Leicester their first lead in the game.
The scoring ran dry for the Sharks who started to look out of their depth as Riders put on the scoring pressure. Jordan Whelan and Loving made it a string of three-consecutive triples to go on a nine-nothing run and forcing Sharks head coach, Atiba Lyons into calling the first timeout of the game.
Sa’eed Nelson showed a quick turn of pace to open up the lane for the finish off the glass and each side went on a run to end the quarter. Kimbal Mackenzie got two finished to go in the Sharks’ key, before the quarter ended with a run from the hosts through strong post play from Marcus Delpeche and Kipper Nichols getting a mid-range two with seconds left on the clock.
Leicester had a 28-17 lead after the first and continued their good shooting in the second. They had the first six points of the quarter as Evan Walshe notched his first basket of the game and Nelson-Henry added to his tally with a lay-up and two more from the line.
It was a lower scoring quarter which went 16-15 in favour of the hosts. Sheffield’s guard rotation was solid and limited the Leicester chances to score, causing them to make unforced errors and give away turnovers.
Loving and Mackenzie had a short streak of scores before the Sharks had back-to-back dunks from Pipkins and Nelson. Pipkins breezed down the baseline and threw the hammer down before Nelson got up high on the missed attempt from Rodney Glasgow and slammed the two-hander home.
A floater from Nichols was followed up by foul shots from Nelson to slash the Sheffield deficit to 10 points at the halfway stage.
The Second half remained closely fought between the sides who were two of the league’s better defensive sides in the regular season.
The third quarter started with a run from the hosts who managed to cut the lead down to three points, as Nelson, Glasgow, and Pipkins made good of the early Sharks attempts.
As quickly as the lead was cut, Leicester managed to restore a seven-point differential with more electric scoring from Whelan and Loving, but Sheffield didn’t lie down as Jordan Ratinho and Koch reeled them back in.
Scoring duties were shared by the away side who had five scorers contribute in the final four minutes of the period. Leicester rebuilt a double-digit advantage, with Kimbal Mackenzie’s final second free-throw spreading the gap to 13 points.
Koch continued to pose a massive inside threat and bullied his way inside for the first score of the final quarter. Nelson stroked home a pull-up two from the free-throw line but Loving retaliated with a three before Koch and Nelson-Henry traded buckets in their battle under the baskets.
Every time Sheffield looked to grab a foothold in the game, Leicester seemed to respond with a huge shot. Glasgow did well to cut the Riders lead to single figures, but Zach Jackson answered back with a three.
The sides took it in turns sending each other to the free throw line and Sheffield managed to bring the difference down to nine-points going into the second leg. Leicester took game one by a score of 79-70.
London Lions secured a comfortable aggregate advantage over the Newcastle Eagles heading into their Sunday second leg, with a 108-78 win on the road.
Josh Sharma’s athletic offensive display saw him rack up 18 points in his 18-minute-long appearance, as Miye Oni flirted with a double-double getting 14 points and eight assists.
Ben Mockford was talismanic for the hosts as he dropped 31 points for the Eagles. He finished the game going 73 percent from the field, including eight of 12 from three-point-range.
Miye Oni opened the scoring in style as he jammed in the transition slam and a shootout broke out between the two sides who traded baskets at Vertu Motors arena. Ben Mockford first responded with a three before the recently returned Lion Tarik Phillip and Kyle Johnson traded twos.
London slowly started building up a head of steam as Phillip added a triple before Jordan Taylor’s soft finish gave them an early five-point gap.
Despite the best efforts of Justin Gordon and Veteran Darius Defoe, the early momentum swung in favour of the League Champions as Oni and Josh Sharma took over and extended the lead to 12 points during a four-and-a-half-minute scoreless run for the Eagles.
Javion Hamlet made a return to the Newcastle side from the bench having not featured in their final regular season game against Plymouth City Patriots. He drew a couple of early fouls from the Lions, but this didn’t faze them as Josh Ward-Hibbert’s three gave London a 31-16 first quarter lead.
Vojtech Hruban’s three saw London start the second the same way they finished the first, with Hamlet making his pair at the line in response.
Mockford had the hot hand in the second quarter putting up four scores from outside on his was to 15 second quarter points.
The towering European pair of Hruban and Tomislav Zubcic kept the hosts at arm’s length throughout the period, never dipping below a double-digit advantage on the scoreboard. Kyle Johnson’s foul shots were the last points of the half with London leading 55-39.
Oni and Taylor opened the third quarter as well as they opened the first. Taylor drained the three-ball before Oni threw down another vicious transition slam to leave Newcastle in early disarray.
Defoe showed he still had youth in his legs getting downhill quickly and laying in for two. Taylor immediately answered back from the inbound play with a second three of the quarter, having found himself open on the angle.
Denzel Ubiaro did well to hold the ball from the good passing play from the Eagles and strung the three from the top to force Ryan Schmidt into a timeout. Newcastle were able to chain successive scores together as Mockford found Gordon down low with the threaded pass.
Luke Nelson was the final London player to get on the scoreboard as Oni passed out of the baseline cut to find him behind the arc for the score. Mockford continued to shoulder the scoring load putting up his 25th point of the game with the finish over Sharma, however Eagles still found themselves down by 20 points.
Sharma added to his highlight reel with another alley-oop jam following the darted pass from Nelson for the seven-footer; Nelson then turned scorer with another three to give London a 23-point lead with 10 minutes left of play.
London’s passing was mesmeric and proved to be unguardable. Ward-Hibbert sank the open shot in the corner as the Lions toyed with the defence, however the visitors couldn’t find an answer to stop Mockford’s scoring as he splashed another pair of deep threes to move to 31 personal points.
Newcastle found themselves in foul trouble with over a half of the fourth quarter on the clock, but London couldn’t capitalise on the opportunities to extend their comprehensive lead.
Zubcic was found open from the crosscourt pass from Oni and drained another three in on the baseline before picking up a technical foul and making his way to the bench. Mockford got the free-throw to go and left the game with a standing ovation from the crowd and a points total of 31.
London passed the century mark and the Eagles started to turn up the heat as Ubiaro and Cohn had consecutive makes, but London kept ahead with extra shots from the charity stripe and transition buckets.
London managed to make it a 30-point lead in the closing seconds through Nelson at the line, taking a 108-78 win going into the second leg.