Friday 7th December 2018
Leicester Riders 70 DBL Sharks Sheffield 71
The DBL Sharks Sheffield prevailed in a thrilling encounter at reigning champions Leicester Riders to take a seventh league win on the trot, go 8-3 for the season and move into second place in the table. The Sharks were led by an outstanding return from Dirk Williams, who poured in 33 points with 10 rebounds.
Riders: Anderson, Gamble, Hampton, Holder, Burnett.
Sharks: Marsden, Smith, Alexander, Williams, Collins.
The Sharks were a little slow out of the traps as Burnett, Holder and Gamble all connected on three point shots to put the Riders up by 9-0. Dirk Williams began a one man mission to haul his team back into the contest; a shake and bake three at 18-11 being a particular highlight. However, a Connor Washington buzzer beater capped a solid first ten for the home side with the score at 26-15.
The second quarter was a different kettle of fish; the Sharks taking the stanza by 14-22. Scores from Marsden and Smith narrowed the gap to 31-26 and forced Leicester into a timeout in the middle of the period. Williams third triple of the night, followed by a trip to the line saw the Sharks within three at 38-35 but Washington’s score saw the Riders in front by 40-37 at half time.
Defence was to the fore in the third quarter. Chris Alexander showed how effective he is from the stripe by levelling the scores at 45 midway through. Williams all-action display continued apace as he slammed home one handed to put the Sharks up by 45-47 and then went down the opposite end for his second defensive block of the night. Collins, Marsden and Alexander concluded the scoring at 48-53 with an intense final 10 minutes to come.
After another Williams trey, Alexander hit a huge score from the top of the key to extend the lead to 51-59. Deandre Burnett pulled Leicester within three at 60-63 inside the final three minutes before drama unfolded. Back to back triples from Williams and Alexander pushed the difference back out, compounded by another Williams bucket that made the lead eleven points with the score at 60-71. A three from Holder followed by a brutal slam from Martin saw Leicester back in touch at 67-71. Vet Andrew Thomson drained a three with just 38 seconds left on the clock and the score at 70-71. A frantic final thirty seconds saw the Riders with possession once more but it was the Sharks who were able to stand firm and hold on for a memorable victory.
Once the Sharks shook off the ring-rustiness of a two week lay off, they pretty much picked up from where they left off prior to the break. Rob Marsden put up another battling display with 8 points and 9 rebounds. Chris Alexander took his time to grow into the game but eventually did so very effectively with 18 points, 4 rebounds and 7 assists as well as going 6 out of 6 from the free throw line. Scoring 13 of the Sharks first 15 points began a fine night for the eventual winner, Dirk Williams however. The wiry wing produced the full array of his talents. He shot 85% from inside, connected on 5 three point scores and also went six out of six from the charity stripe as well as pulling in 10 boards and two vital blocks. To attribute the Sharks success solely to Williams would be unfair in light of a never-say-never display from the whole side. However, his involvement across the whole court was a delight to watch and the catalyst to a truly memorable success over the reigning champions.
Atiba Lyons was quick to share the praise for his whole side, even after a less than ideal two week break with momentum high.
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