It was 1-0 in the Yorkshire series and 2-1 for the season as the DBL Sharks Sheffield took down White Rose rivals Leeds Force by 98-71 in this second week encounter. The Sharks, while looking far from the finished article, returned three MVPs in Zach Gachette, Tony Wroblicky and Mackey McKnight and continued to build to their next home encounter against Plymouth Raiders just one week hence.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky.
Force: Nix, Bankevics, Childress, Toluwase, Wanliss.
There were many highlight plays in a game that got bogged down by the nitty-grittyness of a Northern soap drama at times.
Mackey McKnight enlivened the encounter with a trey after 1.54 at 5-2 and the two sides scrapped until the mid-point of the first period. A Marsden and one followed by a sublime Alexander flick saw the Sharks up by 14-6. The Sharks rather let Leeds into the rest of the quarter. Hambleton (5) Bankevics and Wanliss (2) put the Force up by 16-19 but McKnight’s two and two from the line by Gachette at the buzzer saw the West Yorkshire side in front by just 20-21.
The Sharks went on yet another sizeable run at the top of the second period. A Zach Gachette trey out of the corner pocket sent the score up to 33-23 and eight further points from Tony Wroblicky soon made it 43-25 with 2.52 left in the half. It was a spell that Leeds were to dominate once more. Wanliss (3), Nzenge (6) and Childress (3) all completed late points to see the deficit closed to 46-36 at half time.
The Sharks held their own at the top of the third as well. A sizeable Alexander three was tempered by Deogratias being ejected from the contest and it took big scores from Williams (8) and a near-halfcourt score from McKnight to emphasise the advantage. Gachette drilled in from the corner pocket at 80-50 and confirmed the three quarter score at 82-52 just moments later.
The thirty point difference allowed the Sharks to show off their party pieces in the final stanza. Toluwase and Bankevics narrowed the advantage at 88-62 but a neat spin and hoop for Marsden , buckets for Tuck and a rim-destroyer for Williams ended the contest with the Sharks on the high side at 98-71.
Uniquely, the MVP award went three ways on the evening. Tony Wroblicky completed his double double by half time and went on to finish with 14 points and a mammoth 18 rebounds. Mackey McKnight dished out three assists to go with an eye-catching 20 points and from the bench, Zach Gachette provided some impetus with 21 points, 4 steals, a rebound and seven assists in a very healthy display. It was no more than any of the Sharks deserved such was the magnitude of the win.
Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons spoke of a satisfying win but that how his side are still a ‘work in progress’ at this early stage of the BBL campaign.
Plymouth Raiders at DBL Sharks Sheffield, Friday 13th October 2017, 7.30pm Tip-off, EIS Sheffield.
Photo: Andy Chubb