Friday 19th February 2021
Newcastle Eagles 77 B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 89
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks made it wins on consecutive Fridays in the North East as an outstanding second half display took them to a 77-89 victory. A stat-stuffing career game from Jordan Ratinho, ably backed up by four other Sharks in double figures saw Atiba Lyons’ men climb to fourth in the BBL table with an 8-6 record. Cheshire Phoenix, conquerors of fancied London Lions, visit Ponds Forge on Sunday afternoon.
Eagles: Pflueger, Maxwell, Edwards, Defoe, Fletcher.
Sharks: Nichols, Ratinho, Tuck, Lillard, Hemsley.
The Sharks were without the services of Nicholas Lewis and Johde Campbell as Newcastle got off to a fast start through Evan Maxwell, who claimed all the home points at 6-4. Jeremy Hemsley’s corner three kept the visitors in contention at 10-9 and he repeated the feat later in the quarter at 18-16. It was Maxwell who brought the stanza to an end with the Geordies in front by 23-18.
The Eagles also took the second quarter by 21-17. Louis Sayers triple sent the Sharks into a timeout at 30-21 and a long spell for Newcastle big Shore Adenekan garnered six points as the Eagles went up by 40-33. Bennett Koch found the rim for the Sharks but it was Newcastle who went into the locker rooms happier, in front by 44-35 and also having rebounded the Sharks by 23 to 10.
The second half was an altogether different affair as the Sharks crashed to boards to the effect of 14 to 26, led by the energy of Jordan Ratinho. An opening 0-8 run was soon followed by Antwon Lillard’s trey, assisted by Ratinho after a terrific block to make it 49-46. Hemsley’s pair from the free throw line tied matters at 54-54 and his three inside the final twenty seconds of the period put the Sharks into the lead by 57-59. Rahmon Fletcher levelled for Newcastle on the buzzer but a 15-24 quarter told the tale of how great defence had brought the Sharks back into the game.
Ratinho restored the lead at 61-62 early in the final quarter and drained another triple to make it 65-69 shortly after. A pair of Mike Tuck free throws extended the lead to double digits at 67-77 and Kipper Nichols kept the momentum going with an exquisite spin and fade away. Nearly four and a half minutes spent in the bonus sealed Newcastle’s fate. Lillard and Ratinho saw the game out from the line and the contest was over when Darius Defoe’s and one play closed the scoring at 77-89.
The Sharks starting five all made it into double-figure scoring, keen to make up for the absence of Nicholas Lewis and Johde Campbell on the night. Mike Tuck made up for the height difference in his match up against Evan Maxwell by using all his veteran smarts to record 10 points with 2 rebounds and an assist. Antwon Lillard, who also took a knock, came back strongly to register 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block. Kipper Nichols continued the stat-filling theme with an energetic performance of his own. His 13 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals came at an ideal time, just as the Sharks required extra impetus. On any other night, Jeremy Hemsley’s 24 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block would have sealed the MVP, such was the balletic beauty of his offence. However, the Sky Sports team agreed with watching Sharks personnel that the award should go the way of Jordan Ratinho. 17 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and an efficiency of 31 didn’t even tell the tale of an enthusiastic, energetic display, full of commitment and some great shooting to boot. Richly deserved!
Coach Atiba Lyons expressed his satisfaction at that excellent second half performance.
Captain Mike Tuck spoke of how he felt his side was improving with each contest.
‘Really proud of how we fought back in that second half to level and eventually take the win. We are slowly figuring it out and game by game we are getting better. We had a lot of different guys step up at different moments today which was huge considering we were short handed with injuries. We look forward to welcoming the Phoenix to the Tank on Sunday!’
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix, Sunday 21st February 2021, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 3pm Tip Off.