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Cheshire Phoenix 97-86 Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Dec 17, 2014 09:49pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves were unable to hold back the form team of the British Basketball League on Sunday, succumbing to an 86-97 defeat at Cheshire Phoenix. The Chester-based club have now stacked up seven wins in a row, moving into third place in the table, just a single place below Worcester. 

Wolves were on their heels from the outset, blitzed by a huge 35-point first quarter from their opponents, while only managing seventeen points by way of reply. The deficit continued to hover around the twenty-point mark until the final few minutes, where a measure of respectability was finally restored to the score-line. 

Captain Alex Owumi and his backcourt partner Chavis Holmes totaled 30 and 22 points respectively, but Robert Thurman with 18 points was the only other Worcester player to gather significant numbers. By contrast, all five of Cheshire’s starters achieved double-figure scoring.

A basket apiece in the opening minute for Thurman and for Jamal Williams gave Wolves their sole lead of the match. Former Denver Nugget Julius Hodge nudged Phoenix ahead at 9-7 after four minutes had been played. It was from here where the Cheshire onslaught took hold.

Centre Demond Watt was given plenty of room to tip in his own miss and a moment later Hodge rose up to block a Williams attempt and convert at the other end. Kalil Irving subbed in to the Wolves line-up in place of a misfiring Remi Dibo, but fumbled the ball on his first touch. One-time NBA prospect Taylor King sank a three-pointer, and would drill a couple more by the close of the quarter, cheekily miming the replacement of pistols in a holster to celebrate his sharpshooting.

Disraeli Lufadeju entered the fray with a welcome burst of energy for the visitors, putting forward a couple of baskets, but a trio of long-range successes for Owumi were the only other major contribution to the Wolves’ side of the scoreboard before half-time. Phoenix seemed content to give up occasional space on the outside, happy in the knowledge that they maintained firm control of the boards at both ends of the court.

Entering the third period Worcester trailed 38-59. Cheshire continued to hold sway close to the basket, with the normally-prowling Thurman held in check. Owumi and Holmes carried on plugging away from the outside. 

At 61-80 entering the final quarter, Phoenix finally eased their choke-hold from Thurman, allowing him to accumulate thirteen late points. But, in exchange, they now took charge from distance, eliminating Worcester’s threat and presenting King with the opportunity for more demonstrations of his shooting prowess.

Head Coach Paul James confirmed that any real prospect of success was destroyed by his team’s poor start, saying: “The first quarter was disastrous, and to give up 59 points by half-time was ridiculous. Cheshire shot the lights out.

“Unfortunately, at the moment, we have some guys who are really struggling. Today we had Chavis and Alex doing what they could and playing really hard, and Robert chipped in towards the end. Beyond that there was nothing to talk about.” 

The game’s final stat-line for rebounds read just 26 for the Wolves, while their hosts accumulated a whopping 45 boards. James was to the point in explaining this disparity, commenting: “It’s an issue that shouldn’t be there. We’ve got some good athletes on the team who need to change their mind-sets and go get the ball.”

Wolves return to home action this Friday at the University of Worcester Arena when they face London Lions. “We will re-group and go again,” added James.  

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