Sunday 14th February 2021
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 93 Leicester Riders 107
There was to be no romantic ending as the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks split their weekend by going down to a 93-107 defeat against league leaders Leicester Riders. The game was an offensively thrilling affair with both sides hitting a high percentage of their shots but it was to be the table toppers who held on despite the Sharks taking the final quarter by 30-27. Despite the loss, the Sharks still sit in fifth place in the BBL table with a 7-6 record.
Sharks: Nichols, Ratinho, Tuck, Lillard, Hemsley.
Riders: Crandall, Lee, Johnson, Jackson, Nelson-Henry.
The early stages of the first quarter were fairly even; Jeremy Hemsley and Jordan Ratinho both connecting on triples from the corner with the score at 8-10. Leicester stole a march on a Darien Nelson-Henry ‘and one’ at 8-19 as a series of contentious fouls saw Bennett Koch forced to the bench. The Riders sensed an opportunity as GB guard Conner Washington made it 12-22 and GB colleague Jamell Anderson hit a triple to keep them in command at 18-25. Leicester finished a 0-9 end to the quarter with 5 Ally Fraser points and a Geno Crandall free throw and the score at 18-31.
The Sharks were able to shade the second stanza. The big-shooting Corey Johnson maintained the Leicester lead in the opening moments and frustrations grew with Sharks Coach Atiba Lyons incurring a technical with two minutes gone. Aaron Falzon hit a corner three and a controversial unsportsmanlike call on Jordan Ratinho saw the Sharks in the penalty and down at 27-48. This inspired a 13-2 run – Hemsley sending the Riders into a timeout with a trey and Nicholas Lewis draining two of his own as the deficit narrowed to 42-54 by halftime.
The offensive output showed no let up after halftime. Nelson-Henry and Sharks’ Antwon Lillard traded dunks to make it 53-66 but a huge triple from Johnson and one handed alleyoop finish by Riders’ William Lee saw the Sharks calling for time at 61-73. The break had little effect however as another big shot from Johnson saw the quarter end at 63-80.
The Sharks took the final quarter by 30-27 but were unable to overturn the advantage Leicester had already built up. Two Crandall threes opened the stanza but it was Kipper Nichols who inspired a 12-0 run to give the Sharks a whiff of hope at 77-90. Antwon Lillard came alive with two treys of his own as the Sharks got to within 10 at 88-98 but successful trips to the line for Washington, Crandall and Nelson-Henry saw the leaders chalk up another win with the score at 93-107.
Sharks – Riders encounters are usually relatively defensive affairs so to produce 93 points on 50% shooting including 13 of 21 three point scores and still take a loss was frustrating. However, the Sharks improvement in recent weeks has been marked and inspiring a big offensive afternoon was Nicholas Lewis, who drained four out of five shots from downtown to finish with 18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Inspiring the fourth quarter fightback was Antwon Lillard. He put up an equal game high 23 points to go with 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. Maturing in his point guard role and taking the MVP award once again however was Jeremy Hemsley. His 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal were again a delight to watch and almost saw the Sharks push the leaders all the way.
Post Game Interview
Newcastle Eagles v B. Braun Sheffield Sharks, Friday 19th February 2021, Eagles Community Arena, 7.30pm Tip Off.