By Marko Vranic
Plymouth Raiders saw off a spirited fourth quarter resurgence from the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks to claim victory in a tight mid-table clash. In a game marked by stern defence and high scoring from the hosts, the Raiders’ physicality proved the difference in a result that keeps the Sharks 6th in the table, with an 11-11 record for the season.
Raiders – McGill, Porter-Bunton, Neighbour, Morsell, Ochereobia
Sharks – Tuck, Lillard, Hemsley, Ratinho, Nichols
The Sharks started brightly, and initially nullified heavy presence in the paint from Michael Ochereobia. A 13-4 spell from the Sharks helped them lead by four heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter saw expansive play and end-to-end action, with Will Neighbour a danger from 3-point range for the Raiders. However, it was the Sharks who held onto their lead, thanks to some brilliant offense from Jordan Ratinho, firstly evading three players to drive to the basket for a sumptuous lay up, and finishing the quarter with a trademark 3-pointer to send the Sharks 42-39 ahead at HT.
Yet again, a slow 2-10 start to the third quarter for the Sharks was where the match would be decided. The Raiders asserted increased dominance on offense, buoyed by the consistency of point guard Rickey McGill (21 PTS, 6 REB, 6 AST) throughout. Furthermore, uncharacteristic errors from the Sharks in possession gave their opponents a 64-55 lead going into the final period.
The fourth quarter marked another poor start for Sheffield, a 2-7 spell early on damaging their hopes of a comeback. However, a mid-quarter resurgence helped them minimise the deficit to five points having once trailed by 16. Ratinho again pushed them on, superbly intercepting at the mid-court before laying up and earning his side two free throws in the process. However, the Raiders were simply too tough, and free throws from McGill late on helped them see out the win with relative ease.
Despite the result there were some notable performances amongst the Sharks team, with Jeremy Hemsley marking a return from injury with 13 points, aided by 11 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists from the energetic Kipper Nichols. Jordan Ratinho was the Sharks’ star performer, taking home the MVP award with an impressive 17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists.