Cheshire Jets 85 (15,33,52) (Young 26, Marks 25, O’Reilly 24)
Newcastle Eagles 93 (17,47,73) (Chapman 24, Smith 16, Stewart 13, Sullivan 13)
Newcastle Eagles remain favourites to retain the BBL title after another scintillating shooting night from Joe Chapman.
The American scored all of his points from three-point range, shooting 8 of 13 to lead the Eagles offence with 24 points as Newcastle saw off a depleted Cheshire Jets 85-93.
Playing without James Hamilton and the injured Shawn Myers, the Jets shocked their visitors by piling up an early 13-2 lead, despite an early Eagles time out. All it did though was inspire the Eagles into a 15-2 burst, consisting of a 10 – 0 Eagles runoff their own, before a Jets time out halted the landslide. The rest of the quarter was very even, as the teams traded scores. This allowed the Eagles to end the first quarter with a 2 point advantage 15-17.
Chapman knocked down four from beyond the arc early in the second period as part of an 18-8 Eagles run. The remainder of the quarter was fairly tight with the only notable event being Drew Sullivan picking up his third foul. That would limit the Eagles star to a few minutes until he would be needed later in the game. Newcastle was leading 33-47 at half time.
Eagles’ scores at half time were as follows, Chapman 15 points, all 3’s; impressive guard Jackson had 10 points and Stewart, 9 points, upholding the honour of the big men. The only thing that might be taxing Fab’s brain would have been how to manage Sullivan’s 3 fouls.
At the beginning of the third quarter the Eagles jumped out with a 10 – 0 run, before a Jets time out with 2 minutes 10 seconds gone.
Three more threes from Chapman and two from Charles Smith gave Eagles their biggest lead of the match late in the third quarter at 71-43 before a rally by Jets made it 52-73 with ten minutes to play.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter the Eagles once again scored freely before a Jets time out with 2 minutes 30 seconds gone. The lead had jumped back out to 19 points, the score being 61 – 80 Eagles.
With Newcastle relaxing Cheshire gradually worked their way back into the match. But the lead proved insurmountable with the closest they could get being seven points.
Eagles held their nerve from the free throw line to move into the final weekend of the season with the destiny of the league title still in their hands.
With 2 games left the Eagles need to keep winning. A big crowd is needed Friday night to roar your Eagles on in the last home game of the regular season. The game against Milton Keynes Lions, tip off 7.30pm, is always a hotly contested one and the lions will not want to make it easy for you Eagles. The players always comment on the Arena crowd and how it acts like a sixth player, so get a ticket and see the team as they attempt to retain the League Title for the fourth consecutive year.
The league season concludes with an away fixture in Glasgow. The Scottish Rocks are always a hard team to beat on their own court so a cracking match should be had. Why not have a weekend away in a City of Culture, Glasgow, and while you are soaking in the culture make room for the game on Sunday evening as the Eagles close out their 2009 – 2010 league campaign, hopefully as champions.
The Eagles are back in action the following Friday, tip off 7.30pm, in the first of the after season play-offs are fought out. Tickets are available for that game from the box office.