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Eagles shock Gladiators and Flyers secure third on a perfect night for home teams across the BBL


BBL Championship

Newcastle Eagles 88 – 78 Caledonia Gladiators (17-20, 15-20, 24-24, 32-14)

Eagles – Gordon 32, Hamlet 25, Mockford 15; Gladiators – Durham 24, Alihodzic 16, Sloan 14

B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 80  – 71 Manchester Giants (28-17, 10-13, 20-13, 22-28)

Sharks – Nichols 19, Koch 16, Pipkins 12; Giants – Williams 19, Lewis 14, Roberson 12

Leicester Riders 111 – 68  Plymouth City Patriots (23-15, 33-18, 25-15, 30-20)

Riders – Whelan 22, Mackenzie 20, Jackson/Loving 10; Patriots – Hassan 25, Dang Akodo 22, Bissainthe 9

Bristol Flyers 87 – 73 Cheshire Phoenix (24-18, 21-17, 21-18, 21-20)

Flyers – Olison 20, Bell lii/Delpeche 19, Watson-Gayle 14; Phoenix – Evans/Anderson 18, Archibald 10, Jack/Hudson 8

The Newcastle
Eagles made an inspired comeback to win 88 – 78 in a gripping contest against
the Caledonia Gladiators on Friday night.

Heroic offensive
displays from Justin Gordon and Javion Hamlet kept the team within touching
distance throughout before Ben Mockford pulled through with a three-point
barrage down the stretch.

With the season
series tied heading into the game, the Gladiators made the better start,
spreading the scoring with some solid team play.

The game opened in
the second quarter. Caledonia seemingly ran away from Newcastle by forcing the
ball inside and dominating the glass, entering half time with eleven more than
their counterparts.

At the mid-point,
the BBL Trophy winners led by eight.

However, the Eagles
refused to go away, competing hard in the third quarter, as Hamlet joined
Gordon in attacking the Gladiators’ basket.

After going toe to
toe in the third period, Newcastle stepped up in a big way.

The Eagles came out
fighting, tying the game with seven minutes to go, before sharpshooting
Mockford took over, shooting two consecutive threes to put the Eagles ahead.

Mockford didn’t
stop there, as he opened up the lead with a dagger from beyond the arc in the
final minute.

When the tactical
fouls began, Newcastle held their nerve, making free throws in the clutch to
secure the gutsy win.

It was a night to
remember for North Carolina native Gordon, who added four rebounds and three
assists to his 32 points while shooting a perfect three for three from deep.

Newcastle’s ninth win of the season keeps the battle for eighth place interesting, while Gareth Murray’s side will get a shot at revenge when they welcome the Eagles to the Emirates Arena on the 20th April.

Elsewhere, the
Bristol Flyers guaranteed at least third place with an 87-73 win over the
Cheshire Phoenix at the SGS College Arena.

Malcolm Delpeche’s
19 points and 14 rebounds led the way for Bristol, who are building momentum as
the post-season draws closer.

Andreas Kapoulas’
side set the pace early, controlling the boards and attacking Phoenix with
determination for most of the first quarter.

However, Cheshire
responded after five minutes, inserting themselves into the fixture by scoring
their first nine points from three-point land.

The Flyers took a
ten points lead into half time, which seemed deserved due to their bruising
inside play.

A physical and
aggressive third quarter followed, with things getting out of hand, leading to
a hard foul and ejection for Cheshire captain Larry Austin, which left an
already depleted Phoenix squad in a precarious situation.

Both teams traded
three as the Flyers struggled to fully put this one to bed. However, an
excellent offensive display from Tevin Olison and an overall gigantic
performance from Delpeche put the game beyond Cheshire’s reach.

An acrobatic finish
by Jelani Watson-Gayle put the cherry on top for Bristol, who move into second
place with two games in hand over Leicester.

The Flyers’ win completes a clean sweep for the year over the Phoenix, who now find themselves in a four-way battle for fourth position heading into the playoffs.

In Yorkshire, the
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks took home the 80-71 over the Manchester Giants at the
Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.

The Giants entered
the game with bragging rights between the teams, having defeated Sheffield in
their three previous meetings.

Sheffield
established their offensive approach early, feeding the ball inside
consistently, while the Giants found themselves frustrated by turnovers.

Bennett Koch, who
finished the game with a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds, stood out
in the first half while earning a regular place at the free-throw line.

It will be all
smiles in the Delpeche household tonight, as Marcus added a sting off the bench
in the third quarter alongside Rodney Glasgow Jr.

Despite a valiant
effort from Manchester’s Dirk Williams, the Sharks bruising inside play kept
the Giants at arms length.

Though Manchester
fought well in the fourth, the Sharks took home the victory, which puts them on
level points with their opponents, with an identical record.

It is all to play for in the middle of the table, as Cheshire also shares that 17-17 record as the playoffs creep closer.

The Leicester
Riders secured a comfortable 111 – 68 win over the Plymouth City Patriots at
the Morningside Arena.

The Riders put on
an impressive offensive display, scoring by committee to reach triple figures.

The brilliant ball
movement began, and Rob Paternostro’s side put a stamp on the game from the
first quarter.

While Patrick
Whelan led the way with 22 points and six rebounds, the injection of energy
from Kimbal Mackenzie and size from Aaron Menzies made the gulf impossible for
the Patriots in the second.

Plymouth’s
struggles weren’t helped by the dismissal of guard Elvisi Dusha, who received
both an unsportsmanlike and a technical.

In the fourth
period, Menzies left the game with an injury. Still, Leicester continued to get
whatever they wanted on the offensive end, never forcing the issues and
allowing gaps to present themselves.

Forward Blake Bowman punctuated the resounding victory with a crowd-pleasing dunk down the stretch as the Riders rounded off a perfect night for home teams across the league.



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