Sunday 6th March 2022
London Lions 76 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 83
A first away win since 30th December 2016 at London Lions signalled a return to second place in the BBL Championship for the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks. The Sharks dominated the paint and out-rebounded the much-fancied hometown Lions as 21 points apiece from Kipper Nichols and Antwain Johnson confirmed a memorable 76-83 success.
Lions: Martin, Washburn, Kelley, Robinson, Williams.
Sharks: Nichols, Ratinho, Glasgow Jr, Koch, Wallace.
Despite London racing out to a 4-0 start, six points from Bennett Koch, promoted to the starting five, saw the Sharks reclaim the lead at 6-8. Former Shark Dirk Williams showed his shooting talent to put the Lions back up by 13-8 but a Kipper Nichols trey ensured the Sharks stayed in touch at 20-17. An even opening quarter concluded on Antwain Johnson’s drive into the paint for two and a stepback three with the score 25-24 in the home side’s favour.
A defensive masterclass saw the Sharks take the second quarter by 14-19 and claim a four point half time lead. A goaltend call saw the game levelled at 30-30, soon to become 33-36 on a couple of Kipper Nichols’ mid-range shots. Bennett Koch shot over the towering Chris Tawiah to keep the advantage but former league MVP Justin Robinson put London back in front by 39-38 from beyond the arc. However, a Mike Tuck triple inside the final two minutes and another bucket from the veteran skipper saw the Sharks go in at the interval by 39-43.
An even third stanza only added to a fascinating contest. Despite two more Justin Robinson threes, the Sharks kept the Lions at arms length as Kipper Nichols replied in kind at 48-50. The lead changed a further six times to the end of the period as Jordan Ratinho came to the party with his first points after 28 minutes play. His big three from the top of the key was underlined by Marcus Delpeche’s dunk on the inbound as the Sharks held on to a 60-64 lead.
Antwain Johnson continued the energy with his explosive shooting, making a three ball at 63-67. Nichols continued the determination, slashing to the hoop for two and hitting a huge trey as the lead became six at 68-74. Rodney Glasgow sent London into a timeout at 72-78 out of which Dirk Williams made a three plus one play that again put the result in limbo. To prove it was the Sharks day, Devante Wallace was successful from downtown on Johnson’s kickout pass to make it 76-81. A five second violation for the Lions was followed by a missed three attempt from Williams as Wallace secured a memorable 76-83 victory from the line.
The Sharks dominated the paint to the tune of 20-40 and out-rebounded London by 26-39 as the keys to their success. Bringing energy from his starting berth, Bennett Koch found the Copperbox to his liking on his way to 14 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and a block. Looking like a man on a mission, Antwain Johnson produced another twenty point haul, this time pouring in 21 with 3 rebounds and 2 assists to boot. It felt almost churlish to declare an MVP, given the superb all-round effort from the entire team, but the 21 points garnered by Kipper Nichols, on 75% shooting with 6 rebounds and a block was particularly noteworthy and may have shaded things on a terrific afternoon for Sheffield basketball.
Bristol Flyers v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Friday March 11th 2022, SGS College Arena, 7.30pm Tip Off.