One Health Sharks Sheffield 70 (Lewis 19, Tuck 12, Babalola 11)
Newcastle Eagles 60 (Maddox 20, Defoe 15, Martin 9)
In a fascinating BBL Championship Playoff dress rehearsal the One Health Sharks Sheffield beat the Newcastle Eagles 70-60 on Tuesday night. It saw the Sharks avenge two previous defeats to the Eagles this season, and levelled the all-time series between the teams at 42 wins each. The Sharks are looking good for the post-season with startling late-season form that has already seen them lift the BBL Trophy and Atiba Lyons win the Molten Coach of the Month award for March.
Nick Lewis led the victors with 19 points and 12 rebounds, supported by 12 points and 8 boards from Mike Tuck. In the individual performance stakes, Lewis was outdone by Newcastle’s Kareem Maddox who had 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The tone was set from the early stages as the Sharks raced into a 10-2 lead, with Lewis scoring the last 4 of those points, over the opening three and a half minutes. And, after the Eagles settled themselves to get back to 15-9, the Sharks were equally dominant in the final three minutes of the first period as they didn’t allow the Eagles to score and finished with the last 7 points to lead 22-9, Lewis on 10 first quarter points.
The lead grew yet more in the second stanza as the Sharks started with an 11-2 run that saw their lead reach its peak at 33-11 as former Eagle Olu Babalola (5), Mike Tuck (4) and Zach Gachette (4) shared all of their points through the first six minutes of the period. Darius Defoe stemmed the flow for the Eagles, with 5 points, as they got back to 41-24 before the half time break, but it was the fewest points that the Eagles have scored in a half this season.
A slow-scoring start to the third quarter suited the Sharks, as they kept their visitors shackled. The teams shared just 5 points in nearly three minutes, and the Sharks retained their margin through to 51-33 as Lewis scored a three-pointer with four and a half minutes to play. But from there the Eagles did find the scoring touch as they rattled off a 10-4 spell, sparked by a Charles Smith triple and capped by another from Damon Huffman, with Defoe scoring twice in between. But, despite that, the Eagles could not narrow the gap heading into the final quarter as Lewis and Andrew Bridge made a series of free-throws to put the Sharks up 62-43.
The fourth quarter also started slowly, with only four points scored in the first three and a half minutes. But, while it started OK for the hosts, the Eagles had far the better of a low-scoring finale to the game. They got as close as 65-58 with 1.15 to play on Anthony Martin’s three-pointer after a 12-0 surge which saw the Sharks fail to score in five and a half minutes while Martin scored 7 and Maddox scored 5. But Tuck responded and BJ Holmes saw the game out with 3/4 at the line in the final minute.