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A Winning Weekend for Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Apr 7, 2014 04:00pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Friday 04 April 2014

Worcester Wolves 88-66 Durham Wildcats

Worcester Wolves easily saw off the challenge of Durham Wildcats by 88-66 at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday to maintain their second-place position in the British Basketball League.

On the same night, top-of-the-table Newcastle Eagles overcame third-placed Sheffield Sharks, meaning that Wolves will now need to rely on the results of others if they are to have a chance of overhauling the Eagles by the season’s end.

Coming on the back of last Sunday’s emotional BBL Trophy success, it was always possible that, unless the players remained focused, Durham could rain on Worcester’s parade. After a ponderous start, where the teams were tied after the first quarter, Wolves ensured there would be no such let-down, gradually turning up the intensity and eventually easing away to a comfortable win.

Will Creekmore opened proceedings with a confident three-pointer, and saw his fellow stalwarts, Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumi bag six points apiece over the initial ten minutes. Creekmore slotted home a double of baskets at the beginning of the second period, stretching the host’s advantage to 19-15.

Aside from another score from Taylor, it was all Creekmore over the next six minutes. Time and again he was passed the ball close to the hoop, and time and again he casually stepped around helpless Wildcat defenders to lay the ball home. Once Sunday’s Most Valuable Player Jamal Williams had also showed his mettle with a coast-to-coast dribble and conversion, Durham coach Lee Davie was forced to call for a time-out, with his side trailing 34-20.

Coming out of the half-time locker rooms still in arrears at 44-34, there was a final flurry of resistance from the visitors. A triple from point guard Devin Ginty and a bucket from his backcourt partner Rj Evans reduced the deficit to 46-41, but Worcester once more turned to the metronomic efficiency of Creekmore as he added twelve more points to the eighteen he had accumulated before the interval.

By the last minute of the third quarter the win had already been effectively sealed at 63-45 but, for good measure, Taylor, Owumi and Williams entertained another big Friday night crowd by combining in teasing pat-a-cake-passing before Williams finished the play with a neat teardrop shot through the hoop.

The final quarter torment continued for the Wildcats until Wolves’ coach Paul James mercifully called off his big guns and gave some useful court time to his reserves, mindful of a potentially tricky encounter at Manchester Giants this Sunday.

James was pleased by what he saw, saying: “Once we established our defence, everything started to click. We chased them off the three-point line, keeping them down to only one success from nine attempts in the second half. It was then just down to us executing our offence.”

Referring to the huge 36 point performance of Creekmore, James remarked: “We went to one of our strengths. Durham had no one who could hold Will back, so we just kept feeding him. Our players understand that if someone is hot then you get him the ball.”

Looking ahead to the trip to Manchester, James added: “Giants still have plenty to play for, battling for a play-off place. Just like tonight, we need to guard their shooters, limit their shot attempts and carry on running good offences. We’re concentrating on the games we have left in the league and getting ourselves ready for the play-offs.”

Alongside Creekmore who grabbed 17 rebounds to go with his mighty points haul, Worcester will be delighted that a couple of other players also registered a double-double of statistics. Owumi tallied 16 points and nabbed 10 rebounds, while Taylor scored 18 points and served up an impressive 14 assists. Ginty top-scored for Durham with 16 points.

The next home fixture for Wolves will be the visit of Leicester Riders to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday 11 April.

Sunday 06 April 2014

Manchester Giants 86-94 Worcester Wolves

Worcester Wolves managed to avoid the potential banana skin of a Manchester Giants side battling hard to secure an end-of-season play-off spot.

Sunday afternoon’s 94-86 success made it a double weekend of wins for the Wolves, following Friday’s victory over Durham Wildcats.

Matters looked reasonably comfortable for Worcester over the first part of the match, but they were never able to totally quell the Manchester resistance. The host’s tenacity finally paid off as they edged into a one point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. It took a fine late display of outside shooting from Zaire Taylor to enable Wolves to regain the advantage, and keep the Giants at arm’s length until the end.

For the second game in a row Will Creekmore was the Wolves’ centre of attention. Captain Alex Owumi initiated the scoring with a triple from the right corner of the court and Creekmore did likewise shortly after. Former Worcester favourite David Watts nailed a couple of early scores, but had to watch both Owumi and Creekmore increase their personal tally. As the hooter sounded to close the first quarter, Creekmore sank a three-pointer to help his team to a 25-21 lead.

Taylor opened his scoring account after finding his way around Manchester’s much-shorter point guard Stefan Gill. When Creekmore found himself totally unguarded to slam the ball through the hoop with two hands it was the signal for Giants’ coach Jeff Jones to seek a time out, trailing 34-42 with three minutes to go until the interval.

Still in arrears by half-time, at 39-48, the urgings of their coach finally seemed to take effect. Great Britain guard James Jones made a deuce of baskets in the first minute to close matters to 44-48, and a few minutes later it was even tighter at 54-56, following a double of conversions for March’s BBL Player of the Month Rob Marsden.

Marsden was on target again to level the afternoon at 63-63 with 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, before another Owumi three quietened the revived home support. However, the volume was soon turned back up when a bucket from Gill put the hosts’ noses in front for the first time at 69-68 at eight minutes left in the contest.

A less-resilient team than the one that is representing Worcester this season could have folded after a bizarre   incident with five minutes of the afternoon remaining. Creekmore had just converted the last of his game-high 33 points when he over-reached for a ball that was going out of bounds. As he followed the ball over the end-line, he stumbled to the floor over a courtside advertising hoarding. Expressing his frustration as he rose back to his feet, he was swiftly awarded a technical foul by the referees for voicing his displeasure.

Gill made one of the two resultant foul shots and sank a long-distance attempt on the subsequent possession, leaving his side poised just a single point behind the visitors at 77-78. With Wolves’ big man now seated on the bench, the focus of play switched to the smaller positions, with Taylor stepping to the fore. Once the Giants had finished seeing Taylor nailing a trio of three-pointers, they then had to deal with the emergence of the Williams brothers, Jamal and Kai, who put up nine quick points between them to seal the victory.

Coach Paul James was relieved to see out the win, saying: “Every time we play Manchester they really get after us, playing some great basketball. We had to work hard again today. We did well in the first half, but lost our focus for a while after that. Down the stretch the team came together again with Zaire helping us out by making some remarkable shots.”

Looking at other individual performances, James was delighted with another strong showing from Creekmore, remarking: “Will’s had a great weekend. If teams can’t match up to him, then we’ll keep feeding him.”

Ex-Worcester duo Callum Jones and David Watts put forward tidy displays, with 13 and 11 points respectively, and James gave credit to the pair, commenting: “They looked very comfortable out there. Giants play a nice brand of team basketball and it’s good to see them fitting in so nicely.”

Taylor and Owumi were joint-second highest scorers for Wolves on 21 points, with Gill tallying a similar score for Manchester. Next up for the Wolves will be a trip to London Lions this Thursday, before returning to the University of Worcester Arena the next day to face Leicester Riders.  

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