Newcastle Eagles gained the advantage in the first leg of the BBL Trophy Semi Final, over arch rivals Everton Tigers, as they just about held on to an 89-85 win, thanks to a tremendous fourth quarter. Everton had led by nine points midway through the final period but a 24-11 burst from the Eagles to finish the game, capped off by Charles Smith (pictured) hitting a three pointer, ensured that the Eagles go into the second leg next Friday in Merseyside with a slight advantage.
Everton had dominated the early exchanges, as Trey Moore torched his old club from behind the three point line to establish an 11-15 lead. However, the Eagles then went on a 16-3 run to go 27-18 up after the first period, quickly extending this to 31-18, but a 9-3 burst from the Tigers to close the first half saw them cut Newcastle’s lead to 40-37 at the half.
After a fairly even third quarter, Moore put the Tigers ahead 55-56, and Chris Haslam’s basket right before the penultimate period closure saw the scoreboard read 62-64. Dominant play from the game’s top scorer, former Eagle Olu Babalola (31 points) in the fourth quarter saw the Tigers establish a 65-74 lead, but the Eagles clawed their way back into the game, with Darius Defoe’s dunk putting them back in the lead at 85-83. Despite a Moore lay up late on in the fourth as Everton threatened to trail by just one point, Smith’s three pointer for the home side that secured the win could prove to be vital in their bid to reach the BBL Trophy Final and defend their crown.