An appealing final match-up with Cheshire Phoenix wasn’t to be as Worcester Wolves took a 65-71 win on the night and a 157-173 win on aggregate over the DBL Sharks Sheffield in the BBL Cup Semi-Final Second Leg. The Sharks struggled to break down an athletic Worcester side full of sizeable players, who exploited their ten point first leg advantage to the full on the road to claiming a final berth at Birmingham on January 28th.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky.
Wolves: Khan, Parrish, Palmer, Bachynski, Navajas.
Things couldn’t have started much worse for the Sharks as Worcester raced into a 0-7 lead (0-17 overall) with barely two minutes played. A timeout saw Alexander and McKnight react at 4-9 but Palmer’s trey and a Khan bucket saw Worcester well in command at 4-14. Five Zach Gachette points proved to be spark off the bench but a Beamon 2 on the final play saw the Wolves in front by 17-16.
The Sharks maintained their lead at 19-18 on a McKnight score but the ever-influential Palmer redressed the balance with a trey at 19-21. A Beamon two saw the Sharks calling for time at 25-29, that Gachette drew level at 29-29 moments later. A Rob Marsden putback levelled proceedings at 31-31 but Ashton Khan’s score and two from the line saw the Sharks into half time at 31-33.
Hopes of making in-roads to the twelve point deficit were dashed as Bachynski and Khan converted twice more. The Sharks found Alexander and Williams open with much-needed treys at 41-39 but Dusha swayed things back the Wolves way with one of his own at 43-44. Navajas drew his fourth foul with nearly five minutes to play but it didn’t seem to affect the Wolves as Beamon layed-in twice more and despite Alexander’s ‘and one’ score on the final play, Worcester still headed into the final stanza with a 48-52 lead in the game.
Marsden, Williams and Wroblicky kept the Sharks in touch at the top of the fourth but Palmer’s corner trey saw Atiba Lyons calling for time again at 54-59 with 7.32 to go. He didn’t get the reaction he required as Palmer, Dusha and Navajas with a corner three increased Worcester’s lead to 58-66. A deep Gachette three made it 65-68 with just over one minute to play but Beamon and Navajas made trips to the line that saw the game conclude at 65-71, 157-173 in favour of the Wolves overall on aggregate.
It was a relatively ugly game. Worcester were able to concentrate their efforts on defence given their ten point advantage and the Sharks struggled to break down the forest of trees they put up in the paint. Thoughts therefore go to outside shooting. The Sharks had little success here also. They made one of four up to half-time and finished with four from twenty one overall in one aspect where they have excelled for most of the season. Zach Gachette top-scored with 13, closely followed by Rob Marsden, who put up a 12 point, 12 rebound double-double. The MVP award went to Chris Alexander, who ran-in 12 points as well as dishing out a tidy 5 assists on the evening.
Skipper Mike Tuck spoke of his disappointment post-game.
Newcastle Eagles at DBL Sharks Sheffield, Friday 29th December 2017, 7.30pm, EIS Sheffield.