The DBL Sharks Sheffield were left to rue a poor third quarter that ultimately cost them victory against second-placed Newcastle Eagles. The Sharks had their nose in front in an entertaining first half at 41-37 but suffered a 6-26 third quarter that saw them playing catch-up for the rest of the encounter. Despite a 30-16 final stanza, the Sharks were unable to overturn Newcastle’s lead and now fall to fourth in the BBL table.
Sharks: Alexander, McKnight, Williams, Tuck, Wroblicky.
Eagles: Nimley, Defoe, Jukic, Williams K, Paige.
An entertaining first half played out with both sides going toe-to-toe. Mike Tuck laid-in the opening score and it took a Jukic alley-oop to put the Eagles in front at 8-10. Zach Gachette announced his entrance from the bench with back to back triples out of either corner before the prolific Paige put Newcastle up by 18-19 with a three of his own. Wroblicky and Gachette restored the Sharks lead at 22-19 but a solitary score from the line by Darius Defoe saw the quarter end at 22-20.
The second period was no less entertaining. A Jukic drive into the paint saw the Sharks down by 26-28 and taking time but Williams and McKnight saw the scoreline righted at 30-28. The diminutive Nimley hit triples from beyond the arc to put Newcastle up by 36-37 but a Marsden conversion followed by a Williams trey after Marsden had claimed three successive offensive boards gave the Sharks a welcome but slender 41-37 half time advantage.
The game unravelled for the Sharks in the third quarter. Marsden (4) and Gachette scored for the Sharks but saw Lasker and Martin hit home for the Geordies. A technical on Gachette saw the Sharks offence unravel further as Martin, Paige, Kai Williams and Defoe poured in unanswered points in a 6-26 quarter that ended at 47-65.
A supreme effort was required by the Sharks in the final stanza and they almost achieved it. They chipped away at the Eagles lead through an Alexander ‘and one’ play and a McKnight three, and another McKnight score on the fast break saw Coach Flournoy calling for time at 59-71. Newcastle’s tactic of scoring as early in the clock as possible was completely reversed as they took every minute out of the game they could, as Marsden (2), Alexander (3) and Williams (2) saw the gap narrow to ten at 67-77. Inside the final minute, Wroblicky laid in and Williams produced an outstanding block and went coast to coast to make the deficit six at 71-77. Penalty fouls saw Lasker to the line at 71-79 but McKnight clawed that back with 14.4s to go with three having been fouled by Jukic when shooting. Paige made two more from the stripe at 74-81 and Zach Gachette’s three on the buzzer saw the Sharks fall agonisingly short at 77-81.
Frustratingly the Sharks competed with the Eagles for three full quarters, only to dip at a crucial stage of the game. Had they only even have laid in six more points from a poor third ten minutes, then they would have won the contest comfortably. Tony Wroblicky, free of early foul trouble poured in ten points and twelve rebounds. Chris Alexander again showed some quicksilver heels to record 13 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists and was inseparable from Mackey McKnight, who recorded 14 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists to jointly claim the plaudits on the night.
Sharks Captain Mike Tuck expressed his frustration at the ten minutes of basketball that cost his side the win.
DBL Sharks Sheffield at London Lions, Sunday 7th January 2018, Copperbox Arena, 4pm Tip Off