There was frustration for the DBL Sharks Sheffield as they went down to another solitary point loss albeit against the in-form London Lions. The Sharks were unable to produce the match-winning shot on the final possession after Justin Robinson had given the men from the capital the lead with a triple in the dying embers. London continue to hunt down Newcastle from third place while the Sharks move to a 16-12 record.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Wroblicky, Marsden
Lions: Thompson, Robinson, Guede, Peel, Dixon
It was a thoroughly entertaining first half in which both sides played their part for the Freesports TV cameras. The Sharks took an early 6-4 lead on Rob Marsden’s bucket but the Lions fought back to go up by five on Thompson’s ‘and one’ score at 8-13. Marsden poured in another six points and a big trey from McKnight saw the Sharks ahead at 17-15. Three’s from Gachette and Rolls-Tyson saw the Sharks claim a 25-20 lead and McKnight’s mid range effort concluded the period at 27-22.
Robinson and Peel hoisted London back into the game at the top of the second before treys from Williams and Gachette restored the Sharks lead at 33-29. Alexander (and one) and McKnight on the fast break gave the Sharks a slight gap at 38-29. Marsden’s putback at 44-33 saw the Lions calling for time. Robinson (4) and Dixon managed to narrow the deficit but McKnight’s buzzer beater saw the Sharks conclude a televisual feast on the high side by 48-39.
The Sharks dominated the early stages of the third period as well. Back to back triples from Williams saw the Yorkshire side with a fourteen point advantage at 57-43 and a potential upset on the cards. The Lions found another gear in the form of Paul Guede, who found the target from downtown twice before stealing the ball and laying-in at 61-57. Guede found the hoop once more before his colleague Robinson made the final score of the quarter at 63-61.
The final stanza was a frenetic back and forth affair that ultimately ended in heartbreak for the home side. Larkai opened the quarter with back to back scores as the Sharks suffered the blow of the impressive Marsden leaving the encounter after a heavy fall with 8.03 still to play. The sides traded baskets until Williams sold Peel a dummy and drained the three out of the corner at 74-71. Dixon and Thompson (3) swung the mood back in favour of the Lions at 74-78. Four points from the line from Mackey McKnight saw the Lions take a double timeout, down by two at 80-78. The time was clearly profitable as Robinson drained the three that gave them a one point advantage with 24.2 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, the Sharks failed to get a valid attempt up and the clock ticked down to a seventh consecutive London win.
Despite the disappointing manner of the loss, it was a vastly improved Sharks display from the aberration of the previous night in Newcastle. Rob Marsden produced a display reminiscent of his absent captain Mike Tuck until his unfortunate departure from the game with injury. Dirk Williams hit some big shots on his way to 14 and it was a responsible and solid Zach Gachette who contributed the same score during the game. The MVP award went two ways however. Leading the forwards with a display of energy was Tony Wroblicky, who filled up the stat sheet with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. Likewise Mackey McKnight. His 13 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists kept the Sharks in the contest throughout and it took some tough defence from London to deny him in the closing seconds to close out the win.
Zach Gachette spoke of disappointment at the loss, added responsibility and a determination to make amends in the next game at Bristol Flyers.
DBL Sharks Sheffield at Bristol Flyers, Tuesday 17th April, WISE Arena, 7.30pm Tip Off.