A flurry of three pointers from sharp-shooter George Stephenson bookended a Vertu Motors Arena thriller as Newcastle Eagles Under 16 boys pipped Leicester Riders.

The hosts shot out to a 21-point lead at the half and looked home and dry before a mighty response from the East Midlanders.

And Stephenson showed nerves of steel down the stretch to sink three more triples and seal a nailbiting 95-92 win.

On a day when defence played second fiddle to some phenomenal shooting, the Eagles leapt into an early eight-point lead.

Stephenson was quick to find his range from downtown but some smart Riders plays reduced the deficit to seven points at the quarter break.

Newcastle’s perimeter specialist peppered the Leicester basket throughout the second period as the hosts opened up a commanding 53-32 lead at the half.

But the visitors emerged from the locker room in no mood to suffer a blowout defeat.

And a combination of the Riders finally finding their range — and the Eagles inexplicably taking their foot off the gas — made for a thrilling finale.

There was nothing to separate two teams in full flow as the clock ticked down but it was that man Stephenson who proved three is the magic number.

Newcastle Eagles Under 14 girls maintained their top four challenge in Basketball England North with a convincing 78-31 win against Manchester Mystics III.

But few could have predicted that huge winning margin as the visitors played their best basketball during a fiercely contested first period.

The hosts struggled against the early Mystics press and failed to take their chances from the bonus stripe.

And a narrow 18-14 advantage heading into the second quarter hardly hinted at the offensive masterclass — and defensive solidity — to come.

But Newcastle found their feet and their flow after the restart with Grace Rae and Sophie Hawkins making every chance count.

With Lexie Cardwell locking down on defence, a frustrated Manchester suddenly ran out of ideas and the Eagles took a deserved 42-17 lead into the half.

Mystics might have let the game slip but the visitors battled back to tie a competitive third period 12-12 — dominating the glass and capitalising on Newcastle’s lack of intensity.

A statement final quarter was required from the wildly inconsistent hosts and the Eagles — driven by Lucy Fleming — delivered to close the gap on third-placed Sheffield Hatters to a point.

BBL star Sauveur Kande’s Eagles-high 23 points couldn’t prevent Newcastle from slipping to a 87-79 defeat at derby rivals Tees Valley Mohawks in Basketball England Division Three.

Newcastle Under 14 boys’ Vertu Motors Arena clash against City Of Birmingham Rockets last weekend was postponed. The third-placed Eagles are due to host basement club Leicester Riders at the Vertu Motors Arena on Sunday.