The Newcastle Eagles made it three wins in a row in March as they edged out the Cheshire Jets by 91-88 after a tight finish in the North East, moving clear at the top of the BBL Championship, and taking the head-to-head with the Jets in the process.
Reggie Jackson led their scoring with 28 points, while Trey Moore had 21 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Quemont Greer led the visitors with 28 points and 7 rebounds.
The Eagles started with a three from Charles Smith in what was a cagey opening as the teams remained close throughout the first ten minutes. A Moore triple inside the last minute of the first quarter helped the Eagles to a 21-18 lead, behind 9 points from Jackson.
But the visiting Jets went in front immediately in the second stanza on baskets from Calvin Davis and Quemont Greer, in a sign of what was to come. Seven lead changes ensued before a 7-0 burst from the Eagles, capped by Moore’s triple, saw them lead 34-30. Characteristically, the Jets came back straight away with a Jeremy Bell triple and Matt Schneck score to snatch the lead back, and there were further lead changes as Greer and Smith traded three-pointers. But it was the Eagles that took a 48-43 lead into the half as Kadiri Richard scored twice within the last minute.
Reggie Jackson opened a rollercoaster third period with the first two baskets to see the Eagles into a double-digit lead at 53-43. But the hosts then went scoreless for two and a half minutes, while the Jets posted a 10-0 burst to eradicate that lead and force the Eagles into a time out, before going back in front at 55-58 on Greer’s three-pointer. But the Eagles soon recovered and hit a 9-0 burst of their own, including triples from Moore and Smith, to regain the lead and, by the end of the third period, they were back up by double-digits at 76-62 on Smith’s three-pointer in what was a 21-4 run over the last five minutes of the quarter.
The Eagles saw their lead reach 15 at 79-64 on Jackson’s basket before the late revival from the Jets. They held their hosts scoreless for another three minutes and posted a 12-0 burst, with 9 from Colin O’Reilly to make the score 80-78 with four minutes to play. The Jets tied the game at 82 with 2.21 left and they were tied again at 84 heading into the last minute and a half. The Eagles took the lead on a Jackson free-throw with 1.28 to play and he and his backcourt partner, Moore, saw the game out as they went 6/6 from the line in the last minute. The Jets twice had shots to tie the game down the stretch, but Schneck and O’Reilly missed three-pointers.
Newcastle Eagles 91 (21,48,76) (Jackson 28, Moore 21, Smith 19)
Cheshire Jets 88 (18,43,62) (Greer 28, O’Reilly 21, Bell 16)