Friday 11th December 2020
BBL Championship
Leicester Riders 74 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 64

The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks pushed the unbeaten Leicester Riders all the way in a defensive battle but it was the home town team who shot better in the second half to claim the win. Jeremy Hemsley claimed his third 20 point haul in four games but it wasn’t quite enough to get the Sharks over the line. The Sharks now move on to the visit of Bristol Flyers to Ponds Forge on Sunday afternoon.

Starting Fives

Riders: Crandall, Lee, Johnson, Jackson, Nelson-Henry.

Sharks: Lewis, Lillard, Koch, Nichols, Hemsley.

Key Moments

Predictably, it was a very different roster that the Sharks faced from their Monday night BBL Cup win at the same venue. The first quarter was a defensive affair and it was the Sharks who revelled as Kipper Nichols threw down a huge dunk at 2-6 inside the first three minutes. Ally Fraser levelled at 8-8 and the sides traded baskets until GB point guard Conner Washington put the Riders up by 15-12. Nichols replied in kind inside the final thirty seconds to complete 11 points in the quarter which finished even at 17-17.

Bennett Koch restored the Sharks lead with an ‘and one’ play early in the second period and Jeremy Hemsley’s run of 18 successful conversions from the free throw line ended shortly after. Nicholas Lewis’ three in transition saw the Sharks in front by 21-27 soon after however. William Lee’s big dunk pulled Leicester to within two at 31-33 but a reply from former San Diego State man Hemsley saw the Sharks deservedly in front by 32-35 at the half.

The Sharks carried on in the same vein at the top of the third stanza. A Lewis stepback two and a big two from Hemsley saw the lead go out to 32-39. Six points from Lee pulled the Riders to within 1 at 43-44 and five from Corey Johnson saw Leicester finally take a lead at 50-44 which they would never give up. It was Johnson’s mid range two that finished the quarter with the score at 54-50.

Washington and Falzon poured in triples at the start of the fourth that took the lead out to ten points at 60-50 and saw Atiba Lyons taking his second timeout with fully eight minutes left to play. Antwon Lillard eurostepped his way to the hoop for his first field goal of the game midway through the final quarter and forward William Lee’s three at 69-59 looked to have put the Sharks decidedly on the backfoot. Bennett Koch fouled out with 1.55 left to play and a pair of free throws for Washington saw the points go Leicester’s way with the final score at 74-64.

MVP

It was a another very mature display from Nicholas Lewis, who demonstrated his ball handling abilities with 12 points, 2 rebounds, 6 assists and a steal. Kipper Nichols brought the energy in the opening stages. A huge dunk and eleven first quarter points saw him eventually finish 14 and 4 rebounds to boot. However, the MVP award once again went the way of former Aztec Jeremy Hemsley. He contributed his third twenty point haul in four games to finish with 20 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist and 5 steals.

Quotes

Atiba Lyons was left to rue a slow start after half time but vowed to bounce back immediately with the visit of Bristol on Sunday.

Next game

B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Bristol Flyers, Sunday 13th December 2020, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 4pm Tip Off.

Image

Adam Bates