Saturday 4th May 2019
Benecos BBL Playoffs Quarter Final 1st Leg
DBL Sharks Sheffield 89 Newcastle Eagles 94
Just five points separate the DBL Sharks Sheffield and Newcastle Eagles after a pulsating first leg on Saturday evening. There was little to choose between the sixth seeded Sharks and third seeded Eagles as Mackey McKnight’s three point shot in the dying embers cut the Newcastle lead from eight. The aggregate score encounter will be decided in the North East on Sunday with a 5pm tip off.
Sharks: McKnight, Marsden, Alexander, Williams, Martin
Eagles: Lasker, Williams Jamal, Williams Kai, Moses, Fletcher
After Victor Moses gave Newcastle an early lead, it took the Sharks fully five minutes until a pair of Chris Alexander free throws inched the home side in front at 10-9. The teams traded baskets, something that would punctuate the entire contest, for the remainder of the quarter until a Drago Brcina three point score allied with a Dirk Williams free throw gave the Sharks a 25-21 lead after 10 minutes.
The second quarter was no less end-to-end. A Dirk Williams steal followed by a thunderous dunk on the break saw the Sharks up by five at 30-25 but a Jeremy Smith alleyoop and a Kyle Williams bucket put Newcastle ahead at 30-31. Dirk Williams three plus one score saw the Sharks lead restored at 39-36 but again Moses turned that around with eight points including two triples at 42-46. A one-handed alleyoop from the same player galvanised the Sharks as four points from Mathew Martin and a coast to coast score on the buzzer from Chris Alexander saw a thrilling first half close at 50-50.
Kai Williams gave Newcastle an early lead in the third period at 54-57 but two Dirk Williams treys saw the Sharks back in front at 62-61 in the middle of the quarter. Again, the sides traded baskets before Mike Tuck was ejected from the game following a pair of seemingly innocuous plays. Veteran forward Darius Defoe ended the quarter with a long two that saw the Eagles on the high side by 66-68.
The top of the final quarter followed the pattern of the game; neither side able to break the shackles from the other. Brcina capped a fine performance with the three that opened the stanza but it was Newcastle who saw the Sharks calling for time after Fletcher’s reply at 77-81. Kai Williams mid-range effort and a pair of Smith free throws saw the Eagles take an eight point lead with just a minute to play. Mindful of the two-legged format, the Sharks called for time inside the final thirty seconds and Mackey McKnight’s three point shot saw the home side within five at 89-94 on the final buzzer.
Dirk Williams received close attention for the first twenty minutes of the game, understandable given the forty points he dropped on the Eagles in their last encounter, but recovered to post 15 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists. Drago Brcina hit some crucial shots in his 11 points with 5 rebounds and there was a now customary double-double for Rob Marsden with 13 points and 10 rebounds. As has been the case this season, it is difficult to curtail the free-scoring games of both Dirk Williams and Chris Alexander. With Williams being man-marked by the Eagles, Alexander used all his veteran knowledge to produce an MVP display of 23 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists – and keeps the Sharks very much alive going into tomorrow’s second leg on Tyneside.
Atiba Lyons declared himself relatively happy with a close encounter, feeling that his side had performed well offensively albeit with the occasional defensive lapse.
DBL Sharks Sheffield at Newcastle Eagles, Sunday 5th May 2019, Eagles Community Arena, 5pm Tip Off