Akeem Ellis hit a game-high 36 points to help a rejuvenated Cheshire Phoenix side stun high-flying Worcester Wolves with an 94-76 success in the BBL last night.
On a five-game losing streak in the BBL, a trip to high-flying Wolves, who boasted a 6-1 record before last night and had won their last 15 outings at their University of Worcester Arena home, might not have been high on the agenda of places to visit in order to snap what had been a worrying slide.
But they executed their game plan to perfection on Friday night to get their season back on track as Ellis led the way with a stunning shooting performance that included 6-8 from inside the arc and a phenomenal 7-10 from three. His efforts were backed up by an impressive 21 points from Jordan Williams, who himself shot 72% from the field.
Despite being without influential skipper David Aliu once again through injury, the Nix came out of the traps in bullish mood and Paul James’ side had no answer to a Cheshire side who seemed determined to put and end to their losing run. It was midway through the first period, leading 11-12, that theNix turned up the heat and quickly stretched their advantage to 18 before ending the first quarter 33-17 to the good in front of a shell-shocked home crowd who had been fully expecting their team to be the dominant force.
Cheshire have started well several times this season only to follow it up with a poor second quarter, but they didn’t fal, into that trap this time around as they outscored Worcester 22-17 to take a 21-point lead into the second half, leading 55-34.
But Worcester came out fighting at the beginning of the third and when on a 19-4 run to trim the lead to just six points. But Cheshire showed plenty of resilience to snap themselves out of their cold streak and fought back to end the quarter with a 10-point gap at 66-56.
Poor fourth quarters have been an all to familiar tale for the Nix this season and even the most optimistic of fans would have still felt twitchy about the final 10 minutes. But they need not have worried. Cheshire never looked like relinquishing their advantage and pushed themselves out to a 22-point advantage before ending the game with an 18-point advantage at 94-76.
There were impressive showings from Jorge Ebanks and Kinu Rochford (both 12 points) while head coach John Lavery was even able to give some valuable game time to junior players Max Jones, Ben Goodacre and Sedale Hanson-Young as his side moved to 4-6 in the league and showed just what their group is capable of.
Match report by Dave Powell, from the Chester Chronicle. Image courtesy of Adam Day Photography.