Boil up a haggis, break out the shortbread and pour yourself a wee dram because the DBL Sharks Sheffield are going to the BBL Trophy Final in Glasgow! A 75-66 win on the night and an overall 161-152 aggregate score confirmed their place in the showpiece event at the expense of opponents Worcester Wolves. Chris Alexander led the way with a 30 point haul as a strength-sapping five games in ten days came to an end in the best possible way.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky
Wolves: Ojo, Dusha, Gilchrist, Palmer, Navajas
The Sharks were in command of the contest throughout, effectively a one-off match after the 86-86 tie in Worcester on Wednesday. It was veterans to the fore as Mike Tuck (6) and Chris Alexander (6) saw the Sharks out to a 12-3 lead midway in the first quarter. A 4-10 run pulled Worcester back into the contest at 14-13 but a Dirk Williams three out of the corner pocket emphasised the Sharks dominance of the opening spell as the quarter ended at 23-15.
And they carried that domination into the second quarter to take charge of the contest. Alexander drained a three at 30-17 and then converted a two point score moments later having claimed an offensive rebound off his own three point attempt. His partner in crime Tuck continued to attack the hoop with gusto at 38-19 and it wasn’t until Beamon and Palmer replied for Worcester at 38-23 that the visitors kept in touch. The Wolves lost focus somewhat with a technical on Ojo and an unsportsmanlike on Beamon but it was the latter who looked like the man most likely to aid their recovery with a trey at 42-29. Marsden finished an outstanding assist from McKnight and despite Parrish reducing the arrears, it was the Sharks who were happiest going into the locker room at 47-31.
Worcester’s best spell of the game came at the top of the third as triples from Beamon and Navajas saw Atiba Lyons into a timeout at 49-37. Dirk Williams tempered that with a big three but six points from Mike Ojo saw Worcester maintaining the fight at 54-45. That man Alexander broke the stranglehold with a trey from the top of the key at 60-49 but two out of three from the line by Ojo saw the Wolves cap a 13-23 stanza at 60-53.
Mackey McKnight’s huge three opened the final period to restore a ten point lead for the Sharks. The same player went baseline for a two and yet another quicksilver drive from the livewire Alexander put the Sharks up by 67-55. Alexander kept the advantage strong at 71-59 midway through the period and despite Beamon pulling Worcester to within seven at 72-65, the Wolves never really looked like threatening the Sharks hold over the game. Another bit of ill-discipline saw Parrish pick up an unsportsmanlike and Coach James a technical as trips to the line from McKnight and Alexander saw the Sharks close out a 75-66 on the night win and guarantee their berth in the final on 4th March.
Concern for the Sharks was the after-effect of a draining double overtime game on Friday against Leicester but that proved totally unfounded. Putting up double figure scoring were Mackey McKnight (10 points 5 assists) and Dirk Williams (10 points 5 rebounds 3 assists) including key three point shots. Following up a heart-on-sleeve performance on Friday night, Mike Tuck picked up from where he left off with 17 points and 7 rebounds in another lead from the front display. The MVP award went the way of another vet however. Clearly drinking from the fountain of youth, Chris Alexander was simply breathtaking in garnering 30 points with 3 rebounds and an assist. Inumerable drives to the hoop, finished in a variety of ways, were largely un-guardable and the icing on the cake of a series of outstanding recent performances.
Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons spoke of how determined his team was to make the showpiece event post game.
Buy your tickets to the BBL Trophy Final 2018 here:
DBL Sharks Sheffield at Leeds Force, Carnegie Sports Arena, Friday 16th February, 7.30pm Tip Off.