BBL: Top three win, Glasgow reach Trophy semi

After a busy Sunday that saw four road wins, the top three in the BBL Championship have consolidated their positions, and Glasgow Rocks are the first team into the BBL Trophy semi-finals.

At the top of the table, Leicester Riders made it eight straight league wins and move to 11-1 after beating the in-form B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 107-93 in the Steel City, going through the century for the third time in the last four league games and recording a highest ever points total in Sheffield.

Riders established an early lead and maintained that cushion despite the teams trading big runs, Darien Nelson-Henry scoring 10 of his game-high 23 points in a first period that Riders won 31-18.

The game was all-but-settled when Geno Crandall – who finished with 20 points and eight assists – opened the fourth period with consecutive three-pointers as part of a 10-2 start to see the lead peak at 90-65; and that gave Leicester enough to see off a late charge from the hosts, as they briefly got the deficit to single-figures before Crandall and Conner Washington made key scores late on.

Meanwhile, currently in third place, London Lions maintained their chase, moving to 9-2 as they bounced back from a league defeat against Plymouth Raiders by beating the same opponent 87-70 in the South West, with DeAndre Liggins and Dirk Williams equally sharing 50 points.

After a cagey and defensive first half, the visitors broke the game open with a 9-2 push in the third period, as Williams and Fahro Alihodzic shared the points, before Kevin Ware hit a buzzer-beater to make the score 58-46 heading into the final ten minutes.

London then opened the fourth with Williams scoring nine of the points in an 11-2 burst that saw the lead reach 69-48, snapping a six game winning streak for the fourth-placed Raiders.

The final game in the BBL Championship saw Newcastle Eagles, in second, bounce back from defeat by beating Bristol Flyers for the third time in as many weeks across all competitions, 74-66 on this occasion as Rahmon Fletcher (25) scored more than one third of his team’s points.

Eagles led throughout but could never quite get away from their hosts, up 26-18 on a Fletcher triple and Evan Maxwell score and maintaining their edge.

The key spell came when they scored the last four points of the third period – Cortez Edwards beating the buzzer – and then opened the fourth 9-3 with Maxwell adding five more to take the only double-digit lead of the game at 63-49.

Flyers attempted a late comeback, but Fletcher was there with a dagger three-pointer inside the final minute to keep the lead safe at 72-64.

Finally, Glasgow Rocks used a dominant second half to halt a four game losing streak and reach the BBL Trophy semi-finals, beating Cheshire Phoenix 67-62 on the road.

Rocks trailed by as many as 13 points as the hosts looked to be in control at halftime; but they scored the first seven points of the third quarter, and took the lead at 43-41 on a Jonny Bunyan score to cap a 17-5 spell over seven minutes, during which Christian Keeling and Ronald Delph shared 13 points.

Glasgow held Cheshire to 13 points in 13 minutes as the lead reached 63-52 after a big block and five more points from Keeling – who finished with 19 and 10 rebounds – and that gave them enough to hold off a 10-0 surge and five minutes scoreless, as Ronald Delph grabbed a key offensive rebound and put-back to settle the game with 30 seconds to play.

Brandon Anderson inspired the Worcester Wolves to a two point victory in a close encounter with the Surrey Scorchers on Saturday night.

The Wolves started the game fantastically, launching out to a 13 point lead within the first quarter, but the Scorchers were able to come back to have a slender lead at half time.

Surrey continued to mount the pressure in the third, and jumped out to a ten point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wolves showed fantastic character to fight back into the game.

Anderson scored 22 points on the night, including all of the points that the Wolves put up in the final six minutes of the game.

Jordan Williams also added 22 points for the visitors on the night, shooting 50% from the field and contributed with a huge 16 rebounds for the double-double.

For the Scorchers Ryan Richards led the way with 19 points in the game and guard Tony Hicks provided 14 points, four rebounds and five assists.

Lacey James contributed with a double-double with 14 points and twelve rebounds, but it wasn’t to be enough for the hosts.

Surrey Scorchers shined under the pressure of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday night, defeating Manchester Giants, while the Cheshire Phoenix, Sheffield Sharks and Plymouth Raiders all also recorded victories to ensure all the away teams competing today would add points onto the BBL Championship standings.

The Sheffield Sharks won the opening game of the evening, beating a Newcastle Eagles side who uncharacteristically struggled on offence, while the Sharks had five players contributing double-figures to the scoreboard – as well as 24 points shared around amongst the rest of the roster.

Captain Mike Tuck led the offence for the Sharks, scoring 12 points and getting five assists which was matched by Jeremy Hemsley who dropped 13 – a total equalled by in-form guard Antwon Lillard and only beaten by Bennett Koch who started off the bench.

Eagles’ veteran Darius Defoe shone, dropping a season-high of 18 points, with Evan Maxwell following shortly behind, but usual suspects Cortez Edwards, Justin Gordon and Rahmon Fletcher struggled to replicate their recent form against a resilient Sharks defence.

The next game saw the Plymouth Raiders also win by a margin of 20 points or more, thanks to standout performances from Rickey McGill and Ashley Hamilton – with both dropping 22 points each, supported by Mike Morsell and Denzel Ubiaro who added 16 and 15 points respectively.

The Worcester Wolves didn’t particularly struggle on offence, as Brandon Anderson and Maarten Bouwknecht again impressed with their shooting – making 60% and 71% of their shots respectively, but the Wolves 6 more turnovers than the Raiders and their struggles in stopping the visitors’ pressure in the paint proved costly.

Meanwhile in Bristol, the Cheshire Phoenix were put under enormous pressure in the final quarter by the Bristol Flyers who came back from a 15-point deficit to tie the game with seconds to go thanks to Ben Mockford, but Mike McCall’s circus-shot three pointer broke the home side’s heart, after they actually went ahead for the first time in the game with the shot which they thought won the game.

Instead, the Phoenix secured the points, thanks to huge performances from McCall and captain Jalen Hayes who managed totals of 23 and 15 points respectively, both in under 30 minutes of game time – while Pharroh Gordon secured a 10 point – 12 rebound double-double.

Marcus Delpeche achieved a huge double-double for the Flyers, dropping 13 points and grabbing 19 rebounds, and while Ben Mockford’s tally of 19 points with a field goal percentage of 70%, accompanied by 13 points from Josh Wilcher, the total was just short.

As the day came to a close, the Surrey Scorchers took the final two points on offer live on television, beating the Manchester Giants thanks to a second-half flurry which saw them score eight more points than the hosts after what was a very close affair in the first-half.

Tony Hicks and Cam Hildreth continued their hot streak of form, scoring a combined 37 points – but they may be disappointed their numbers were not higher, while new signing Lacey James added an intimidating presence in the paint into the equation.

The Giants, led by Breaon Brady and Donovan Marshall-Johnson, both dropping 18 points, had enough good performances to win the game – with Jack Hudson and David Ulph combining well off the bench and Alex Ouandie and Sam Cassell Jr also reaching double figures for scoring, but unfortunately could not make enough stops to halt the Scorchers in the second-half.

The London Lions advanced to the next round of the BBL Trophy last Thursday after a dagger three from Josh Ward-Hibbert sank his former side the Leicester Riders to a five point defeat.

It was a game that looked to be going away from the hosts when they trailed by 13 in the third quarter, but a 14-0 scoring run changed the complexion of the game.

DeAndre Liggins put in yet another impressive display for the Lions with a 13 points and twelve assists double-double, with Dirk Williams and Justin Robinson providing great scoring help, with fifteen points apiece.

For the Riders things looked promising, as the led at the end of each of the first three quarters, but the Lions were able to turn things around in the fourth.

William Lee and Darien Nelson-Henry provided double-doubles for the visitors, with 15 points, ten rebounds and 14 points and 14 rebounds respectively.

Corey Johnson led the scoring charge for the Riders with 16 on the night, but it will be London who are advancing to the next round.

Worcester Wolves secured their place in a BBL Trophy quarter-final with a 102- 96 win over Manchester Giants at the University of Worcester Arena last Wednesday.

Neither side were able to open a substantial lead throughout the match with the sides level at 20-20 after the first quarter and 50-50 at half time. The game was played at an incredible pace as both sides looked to get ahead.

By the end of the third, Wolves had opened some breathing space as they went in to the last quarter with an eight point lead. However, Giants kicked back again and found themselves leading by three with three minutes to play. Lamarr Kimble and Maarten Bouwknecht responded with triples for Wolves that gave them enough room to play out the game and secure the win.

Brandon Anderson led the scoring charts for Wolves with 24 points and 8 assists. Jordan Williams also had a good performance contributing 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists.

For the visitors, Jordan Whelan was the star man with 25 points but it wasn’t enough as Giants exited the competition.