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Worcester Wolves 73-82 Sheffield Sharks

Last Updated: Mar 30, 2014 11:00am
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves will go into today's showpiece BBL Trophy Final against Glasgow Rocks on the back of a stuttering display against One Health Sharks Sheffield on Friday.

Another large crowd at the University of Worcester Arena, many of whom will be following the club up to Scotland, will have been disappointed to see Wolves stumble to a 73-82 defeat, and subsequently slip down to third place in the British Basketball League.

Although Sharks and Wolves now hold identical 21-5 win-loss records, the head-to-head advantage should the sides finish level at the end of the season has been grabbed by the men from the Steel City. Both clubs then look upwards at table-topping Esh Group Eagles Newcastle who possess a 24-5 record.

After six minutes had elapsed things looked rosy for the hosts, with a trio of three-pointers from Alex Owumi and Will Creekmore helping to establish a 14-3 lead. However, six points apiece for Sheffield’s duo of Mike Tuck and Zach Gachette contributed to a 17-17 tie by the conclusion of the opening period.

Reserve guard Caylin Raftopoulos thrilled fans by floating home a long-distance score to keep matters close at 22-25, three minutes into the second quarter. A few minutes later Raftopoulos repeated the feat but, worryingly, Creekmore was the only one of Worcester’s big guns still firing. Owumi typified the generally lax performances from many of Wolves’ usual stalwarts by hurling a wild pass several feet over the outstretched arms of Creekmore and into his side’s backcourt.

Coming out of the half-time locker rooms adrift 34-42, the contest looked to be back on after a couple of minutes as an initial score from forward Stefan Djukic, accompanied by four points from the ever-reliable Creekmore, dragged Worcester back into contention at 40-42.

Zaire Taylor, who had been limited to just a solitary point in the first half, suddenly came to the fore with ten quick points. Kai Williams also sprang to life to tally four points, pegging Sharks back to a single-point lead at 61-62 entering the final ten minutes of the evening.

Unfortunately the revival was short-lived as Tuck and Gachette were once more on the mark, while the home side were unable to again trouble the scoreboard until Taylor ended his personal scoring with six minutes still to play. With Creekmore by now tiring in his constant battle around both baskets with Shark’s big men, there was to be no chance of a bail out for the home team.

By two minutes remaining the deficit had climbed into double digits at 68-78 and Coach Paul James was resigned to sending his bench players on court to end proceedings.

James expressed his frustration after the game, saying: “We didn’t play how we are used to playing. Sharks made it a messy game and we just didn’t respond well. We got back into it in the third quarter but then went back to not sharing the ball. I’m hoping this can act as a kick up the backside; no one is just going to roll over against us. Sheffield deserved the win.”

Looking ahead to more positive matters, James pledged that his team will work to make amends in Sunday’s Trophy Final, saying: “We’ll now put this game to the back of our minds and look forward to a great occasion for the club. We need to go out there and play to our best. A lot of the players will be sore about what happened tonight and will want to put things right on Sunday.”

Creekmore led the Wolves’ scorers with 16 points, with Taylor and Djukic the only other double-figure scorers with 13 and 10 points respectively. Olu Babalola top-scored for Sharks with 20 points.

Once all the excitement of the trip to Glasgow has died down, it will be necessary for Wolves to adjust back to the grind of league action against Durham Wildcats at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday 04 April.

 

British Basketball League

 

 

 

Standings as at Friday 28-March-14

 

 

Played

Win

Loss

Points

1.     Esh Group Eagles Newcastle

29

24

5

48

2.     One Health Sharks Sheffield

26

21

5

42

3.     Worcester Wolves

26

21

5

42

4.     Leicester Riders

27

19

8

38

5.     London Lions

28

16

12

32

6.     Cheshire Phoenix

27

15

12

30

7.     Durham Wildcats

28

12

16

24

8.     Plymouth University Raiders

29

12

17

24

9.     Manchester Giants

28

11

17

22

10.   Glasgow Rocks

27

10

17

20

11.   Surrey United

27

4

23

8

12.   Birmingham Knights

28

0

28

0