BBL Trophy, Quarter-Final
Cheshire Phoenix 87 (16,35,53) (Ellis 34, Taylor/Rochford 16)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 97 (18,41,66) (Fletcher 18, Smith/Chapman 16)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle returned to winning ways after beating Cheshire Phoenix 97-87 on the road to become the first team into the BBL Trophy Semi-Finals.
The defending champions withheld a late fightback from the hosts as Charles Smith landed the dagger three to make sure of the victory.
Last week’s BBL Cup Final MVP, Rahmon Fletcher, again led from the front with 18 points in a typically balanced scoring effort from the Eagles.
Joe Chapman and Smith both added 16 points, while Drew Lasker contributed a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds from the bench along with three assists and two steals.
The lead was traded throughout the opening period before the Eagles held on to edge the first quarter by two. Chapman’s 3-pointer sparked a 16-4 run in the second as the visitors seized control, before Cheshire halved the deficit heading into the interval.
With the hosts cutting the gap to three early in the third, Newcastle responded with a 14-4 burst to move to build a 16-point advantage. David Aliu beat the buzzer from deep at the end of the third to keep his side in contention.
The Eagles looked comfortably as they led 79-61 with less than seven minutes remaining, but Cheshire rallied to within six points over the next three minutes. However, Smith nailed a three and the Eagles closed out a double-digit victory.
Ellis led the resistance for Cheshire with a 34-point haul, but was unable to prevent a fifth loss against Fab Flournoy’s side this season.