BBL Championship Play-off Semi Final, First Leg
Newcastle Eagles 110 (Huffman 31, Smith 30, Chapman 16)
Surrey Heat 82 (F Holmes 17, Cricelli/T Holmes 14)
Newcastle Eagles took control of their BBL Championship Play-off Semi Final with the Surrey Heat as they picked up an impressive 110-82 victory over the Heat at Sport Central on Friday night.
The second leg, scheduled for Sunday afternoon at Surrey Sports Park, will need the Heat to overturn a massive 28 point deficit in order to have a chance to securing a place in the Final at Wembley Arena on Sunday 28 April.
A tight opening to the contest saw both sides trading baskets through the early exchanges with both teams searching for some sort of rhythm early on. It was the Eagles who enjoyed the lead however throughout the period, and a pair of Charles Smith free-throws gave them a seven point lead at 25-18. A Travis Holmes three-pointer however trimmed the gap to just four points by the end of the quarter to leave the Heat down 25-21 at the end of the opening term.
In the second quarter, the Eagles broke the game open right at the start as they leapt out to a 20 point lead at 45-25 off the back of a 20-4 run, including nine points from Damon Huffman. The Heat responded immediately however with a 14-5 run to get the deficit back to 11 points at 50-39 with 2:16 left in the second period, but that was as close as the visitors would get for the remainder of the half as some strong shooting from the Eagles saw them end the half on a 8-0 tear to head into the locker rooms leading by 18 points at 57-39 at the half.
In the second half, the home side continued to extend their advantage throughout the third quarter with the lead peaking at 27 points with the score at 73-46 thanks to another Smith basket midway through the quarter. The Heat tried desperately to get themselves back into the contest, but Newcastle were able to keep them at bay and headed into the final stanza with a 23-point advantage at 80-57.
In the final quarter, the Eagles enjoyed their biggest lead of the game at 30 points with the score at 87-57 off the back of a 7-0 start to the period. The Heat continued to push themselves to try and close the gap to give themselves the best opportunity for the second leg, but they were unable to get any closer than 20 points at 102-82 with two minutes left in the contest as the Eagles kept pushing and eventually secured the 28 point victory to take to Surrey on Sunday.
Huffman’s (pictured) 31 points for the Eagles was the leading mark of the contest, while Frank Holmes led the Heat scoring with 17 points personal.