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Wolves Bounce Back in Style

Plymouth Raiders 80-91 Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2015 04:14pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Plymouth Raiders 80-91 Worcester Wolves

 

Worcester Wolves bounced back in style from a disappointing home defeat the night before to triumph 91-80 at Plymouth Raiders on Saturday.

Just as in the loss to Cheshire Phoenix which saw Akeem Ellis put up a whopping 36 points, Wolves’ opponents featured a player with a hot hand. Raiders’ player-coach Daryl Corletto dazzled with 15 points in the first quarter alone, but on this occasion Worcester were able to shackle him sufficiently that he could only contribute nine points thereafter.

The match stayed tight until late in the final period when the balanced attack of the Wolves meant that they were finally able to pull clear of their tiring hosts. Perris Blackwell led the line with 20 points and 14 rebounds but, unlike several recent   games, was not left to battle alone. Javier Mugica gave an all-round display with 11 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while guards Josh Cameron and Jay Couisnard weighed in with 16 and 14 points respectively.

Couisnard and Cameron both opened their scoring accounts with triples, helping their side to a 16-14 lead after six minutes had elapsed. It was from here that Corletto exploded into life with eight unanswered points in less than a minute to prompt a Worcester time out.

Cameron restarted proceedings with another outside success before Corletto continued his outburst to put Raiders in front at 31-28. By half-time Wolves had edged back in front at 48-45, a lead that would be extended to 58-50 by midway through the third period once Mugica had debuted his name on the scoresheet.

Up to the commencement of the final period Plymouth had showed impeccable efficiency at the free throw line by converting all 17 of their foul shots. However Dante Williams was first to see an attempt go awry, triggering a series of misses from his team mates. Raiders showed similar uncertainty in their ball-handling as players tired. A couple of interceptions of flagging point guard Josh Wilcher by Couisnard stood either side of a confident blocked shot by a leaping Blackwell.

Playing the full 40 minutes had by now taken its toll on Corletto as his earlier accuracy departed him. There was no such letdown for Worcester as Coach Paul James cleverly rotated his troops to victory.

“It was a good win. We needed a reaction,” remarked James. “We moved the ball well on offense with balanced scoring and, most importantly, after the first quarter we knuckled down to some serious defense.”

Next up will be a trip to league-leading Newcastle Eagles on Friday, followed by the hosting of Plymouth at the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday (tip off 3pm). “We have things we need to do better, but we’ll work hard this week and we’ll concentrate on what I know we can do well,” added James. 

 

Worcester Wolves 76-94 Cheshire Phoenix

 

Friday the thirteenth proved highly unlucky for Worcester Wolves as they unfortunately crossed the path of a white-hot Cheshire Phoenix.

Wolves stumbled out of the blocks to allow their visitors to race to a 17-33 first quarter lead, and still trailed badly by half-time. The third quarter finally saw Wolves haul the brakes on to make an unlikely comeback seem possible, but then defensive deficiencies once more came to the fore as Cheshire were allowed to pulsate to a 76-94 victory.

Perris Blackwell put forward his by-now-traditional double-double showing, with 15 points and ten rebounds, but apart from 25 points from Jay Couisnard, there were mere scraps contributed from other Worcester players. By contrast, Phoenix had four of their players tallying double-digit scoring, including an incredible 36 points from the undoubted star of the evening, Akeem Ellis.

The match initially looked set for a tight affair with a pattern of neat plays set up for Blackwell to convert. The evening stood at 13-19 after six minutes had elapsed, with Wolves’ coach Paul James calling for a time-out. From the re-start Cheshire guard Jorge Ebanks stole the ball from Couisnard for an easy lay-up. The next possession saw Ellis left wide-open to sink his third three-pointer and the blitz had begun.

A double of baskets for Ebanks earned him a rest on the bench, only for his replacement, Danny Huffor, to take up the slack with five quick points. By midway through the second period the Phoenix advantage had been maintained at 25-41. A series of assists from the exuberant Ellis was followed by a double of personal successes from outside the arc and the lead was stretched to 34-55 by the interval.

The University of Worcester Arena crowd was entertained by a sparkling half-time dance performance set to the tune of Queen’s “I Want to Break Free”. As play resumed it seemed as if the melody could have filtered through to the locker rooms. Within the first thirty seconds of play resuming Wolves had rattled home a trio of baskets while Cheshire had committed consecutive turnovers.

The visitors’ unease continued as they were harassed into further carelessness and successive shot-clock violations. With just over a minute remaining in the third period the once-gaping deficit had been hauled all the way back to 56-60 with home fans now on their feet. However, as if exhausted by their efforts, Wolves’ players once more surrendered space for Cheshire to roam in.

The irrepressible Ellis was freed up to take six points either side of the third and fourth quarters and the contest was no more. Ellis set the seal on his astounding personal display by sinking the last of his stunning seven triples.

A disappointed Paul James said afterwards: “We dug ourselves too big a hole in the first half. We fought back pretty well in the third quarter, but couldn’t sustain the effort. Right now we are soft defensively.”

In relation to Ellis’ outburst of scoring, James replied: “There were too many times when we left him wide open with no one on him and no one running at him. That’s not a smart thing to do when someone is shooting like he was.”

Wolves now travel today (Saturday) to Plymouth Raiders. “We have to pick ourselves up and look to get something out of this weekend,” added James.

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