The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks put on a strong showing last night, in a game where momentum was key, defeating the Worcester Wolves 76-69 at Ponds Forge.
After a tough start to the BBL Championship, going 3-4 in their first seven games, the result will hopefully push the Sharks onto a winning streak to get them back into top spot contention.
The first quarter was controlled by the Sharks.
Big man Bennett Koch was using his size well in the early stages, he muscled his way inside, using the right shoulder to move Worcester’s Amir Williams out the way before finishing with his left.
Down on the defensive end, Koch swatted a Wolves’ layup attempt to put an exclamation point on his impact in the opening few minutes.
Rob Marsden did well on the offensive end. With the ball on the right-side, he drove left and took contact when met by his defender, spun right, away from his man, and finished with a high right-handed shot.
The following possession was a Mackey McKnight/Marsden pick and roll at the top. McKnight pushed a swift bounce pass through, right to Marsden’s pocket and the forward was able to lay the ball in.
The quarter ended 23-14 to the Sharks.
The second quarter saw the Sharks extend their lead into the half-time break.
Sheffield went on a big run to start the period, kickstarted by Captain Mike Tuck’s three-ball after Worcester failed to pick him up, at the top, trailing the play.
The Wolves needed a timeout and took one, and soon enough Worcester went on a run of their own, knocking a fairly comfortable Sharks lead to just eight points.
Sheffield did manage to pick up the pace again and a barrage of made jumpers extended their lead to the score at halftime, 41-28.
The Sharks controlled the third, outscoring Worcester 21-16 for the quarter.
It started with Tuck nailing his third three of the game and then Cashaw doing well to create space for his own jumper with a quick between the legs to crossover combo.
The Wolves built some momentum, which peaked when Jordan Williams rose effortlessly from under the basketball to slam home a standing-dunk cutting the lead to a measly six at the time.
For the Sharks though, the pace picked up and they took a run of their own. Inside scores and good defence whacked the lead, quickly, up to 18 at the end of the quarter.
Bouna Ndiaye opened the fourth with a bang. He brilliantly anticipated Amir Williams drive to his right and sacrificed his body to force a turnover. Then, on the following possession, he received the ball at the top, threw a fast body fake and blew past the defence for a right-hand finish.
Later on, Worcester had a run. They narrowed the game to six points. If there was more time in the game, they could have come back level. But in the last minute of the game, two enormous offensive rebounds from Tuck and McKnight gave Sheffield more time with the ball.
The intentional fouls from Worcester, to stop the clock, came to no avail and the Sharks held on, winning by seven.
Now 500. on the season at four wins and four losses, Head Coach Abita Lyons knew exactly how the Sharks need to go on from here. “Be positive and make sure we get back to playing winning basketball.”
The Sharks showed excellent defensive awareness, rotating quickly to open men throughout the game. Captain Mike Tuck has this to say about his head coach and the commitment to the defensive end of the game: “100% a defensive-minded coach… rotations have been worked on the last few weeks and it shows.”
Sharks: Mackey McKnight, Nick Lewis, Conor Cashaw, Mike Tuck, Bennett Koch.
Wolves: Maarten Bouwknecht, Mark Hughes, Cortez Edwards, Jordan Williams, Amir Williams
MVP: Nick Lewis (20pts, 4rebs, 4asts, 2stls)