Newcastle Eagles finally snapped a six-game losing streak down in Surrey yesterday afternoon to give themselves, the coaching staff and their supporters an early Christmas present. But boy was it close!
The Eagles have been accused of being a team that doesn’t know how to win but finally after threatening in their last three games to pull out a victory, they finally found a way even if for long periods they didn’t look like achieving it.
The two sides went into the game being the two sides currently sitting outside of the play-off positions and occupying the bottom two places in The BBL. Surrey had the advantage of a win over Newcastle on the road earlier in the season for confidence.
For Newcastle it seemed simply like a game they could not afford to lose and in the end, no matter what happened in 40 minutes of pulsating basketball the end result was that W they needed.
Ifs and buts and possibilities abounded during the game but in the end the final score line was mattered and that showed the Eagles on the high-side, just!
For Newcastle, star guard and top scorer Javion Hamlet once again led his team in scoring and there was another excellent effort from GB International Kyle Johnson who is really starting to put in the performances that warrants that international recognition.
But the player of the game for Newcastle was point guard David Cohn who perhaps showed the greater determination of any of the Eagles side to get his side over the line.
He was exceptional in the final period and led his side to the crucial run that broke the game open in the final stretch and finally got Head Coach Marc Steutel’s men over the line and send them into Christmas in a happy frame of mind.
It hadn’t looked that way for a lot of the game. Surrey were the first to throw up a big lead. Newcastle were leading 5 – 4 when ten unanswered points from the Scorchers gave them a 9-point lead. Eagles looked in trouble.
Cohn though led the fightback and helped his side with Hamlet and Kyle Johnson getting going to an 8-point run that levelled the game at 18 – 18 after the first period.
Hamlet and Kyle Johnson put Eagles up by five early in the second but that was the biggest gap leading up to half time with very little in it as both sides traded baskets throughout the ten minutes.
Surrey’s Quincy Taylor ending the scoring for the first half with a deuce that gave the Scorchers a 39 – 36 lead to take to the locker rooms.
A confident start to the second half saw the Scorchers nail a 9 – 2 run to lad by double-digits for the first time in the game. Eagles battled hard, three times bringing themselves back within six and once within four but another 7 – 0 home run made it an 11-point game.
Justin Everett’s last basket of the third period cutting the gap to single figures at 65 – 56 as the sides went into the final quarter.
With 8:40 to go on that final period Surrey led 71 – 60 until Cohn took over. He led his side brilliantly and with the support of those around him particularly Kyle Johnson, the Eagles ripped off 14 unanswered points to take a late lead.
Surrey though were right there but Hamlet netted two free-throws with only 11 seconds to go to put Newcastle up by five. Andrew Lawrence nailed a 3-pointer with five seconds left on the clock but it wasn’t enough and The Eagles held on to take the win.
Whether it’s the catalyst for more to come time will tell. But at least Newcastle can enjoy their Christmas break with a winning feeling before Caledonia Gladiators come to the Vertu Motors Arena on Wednesday 28 December.
Tickets for the post-Christmas cross-border batter are available now from the box office and selling fast!