BBL Championship Play-off Quarter Final, First Leg
Newcastle Eagles 85 (Maddox 19, Smith 18, Chapman 14)
One Health Sharks Sheffield (Jemison 18, Tuck 17, Lewis 13)
The Newcastle Eagles took a giant step into the semi-finals of the BBL Championship Play-offs as they secured an 85-70 victory at Sport Central on Fridya night.
The second leg will be played on Monday night at the EIS, Sheffield and the Eagles will fancy their chances of progressing through to the Final Four. The home side started the stronger side as they opened the game with an 11-3 burst to lead with three minutes gone in the contest.
A Joe Chapman three-pointer extended their lead out to nine points at 14-5 midway through the period, but the Sharks finished the quarter the stronger as a Demetrius Jemison basket sparked a 15-4 tear to end the first quarter leading by two points at 18-20.
In the second period, an Olu Babalola free-throw kept the Sharks ahead by a single point at 22-23. This was the last time that the visitors would lead in the contest however as a Darius Defoe basket sparked a 14-2 tear to take the score out to 36-25 midway through the quarter.
The Eagles continued to extend their lead throughout the remainder of the half as they restricted the Sharks to just three further points in the final four and a half minutes while bagging 14 points of their own to head into the locker rooms leading 50-28 at the half.
In the second half, a Damon Huffman basket gave the Eagles their biggest lead of the game at 24 points with the score at 54-30 with three minutes gone in the third period, but the Sharks kept themselves in with a chance of closing the gap as they spent the remainder of the quarter trying desperately to get back into the contest.
As the quarter drew to a close, Nick Lewis hit a three-pointer with the final shot of the period to trim the deficit back to 17 points at 63-46 heading into the final stanza.
In the final period, the Sharks tried desperately to get themselves back into the contest, and managed to close the gap to nine points at 77-68 with a minute remaining in the game, but that was as close as they would get as the Eagles held on for the all-important victory and head into Monday’s second leg with a strong advantage.
Kareem Maddox (pictured) led all scorers in the game with 19 points for the Eagles, while Jemison led the Sharks with 18 points personal.