BBL Trophy, Semi-Final first leg
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 73 (27, 45, 56)(Smith 18, A Thomson 17, Martin 16)
Worcester Wolves 66 (13, 36, 56)(Blackwell 15, Cameron 10, Losonsky 10)
A short-handed Esh Group Eagles Newcastle took one step towards the BBL Trophy Final with a 73-66 success against Worcester Wolves in the first leg of their Semi-Final at Sport Central on Friday.
The holders were without the influential Darius Defoe while player-coach Fab Flournoy also did not take to the court.
This saw the evergreen Charles Smith start the game, and, as he so often does, the veteran sharp-shooter came up with the goods.
Smith scored a game-high 18 points as Eagles jumped out to an early lead before showing real poise to control the game down the stretch.
Having trailed since the early stages, Wolves drew level thanks to Josh Cameron’s third-quarter buzzer-beater.
But the hosts refused to relinquish the momentum and made a strong start to the fourth quarter, getting into their sets and managing the contest.
The victory goes some way to avenging Eagles’ reverse at Wolves two weeks ago, which ended a 28-game unbeaten run, although there is still the return leg to come next Sunday.
Andy Thomson and Scott Martin added 17 and 16 points respectively for Eagles, who are in BBL Championship action at Bristol Flyers on Saturday.
Perris Blackwell was the high man for Wolves, with 15 points off the bench. Paul James’ side travel to Manchester Giants in the league on Sunday.