Cheshire Phoenix V Sheffield Sharks

Cheshire Phoenix ended the weekend on a high after claiming victory at the death to seal a 79-77 home triumph over Sheffield Sharks.

Having not been behind in the game since early in the fourth Cheshire were dealt a blow with seven seconds remaining when, after the Nix missed a defensive rotation, Jerrold Brooks sank a big three from the corner pocket to tie up the scores at 77-77.

But the Nix weren’t done.

Buoyed by a vocal home crowd who had been whipped into a frenzy after a frenetic back and forth encounter, Nix point guard Quincy Taylor had the ball in his hands over 90 feet away from the basket before driving to the lane in the blink of an eye and rolling home a lay-up just as the clock ran out.

It was a magical moment that saw Taylor and his Nix team-mates rush to embrace each other in the centre of the court and brought the Cheshire Oaks Arena crowd to their feet, evoking memories of last-gasp wins at the club’s former Northgate Arena home.

More importantly for the Nix, though, was that they kept themselves in the hunt for the BBL play-offs having been dealt a blow on Friday night after an 86-78 defeat at Bristol Flyers, a success that gave the Bristolians the season head-to-head.

“It was a hard one but I thought we were in control of the game for 39 minutes and 53 seconds,” said Cheshire head coach John Lavery.

“We talked about how we needed to get the win and to get it in a way like that is pleasing as we never say die, we keep on going until the very end and that proved it tonight. We get the ball with four seconds to go and we win the game by two.

“But we have to be a lot smarter down the stretch, that’s the difference between going on a run in the play-offs and going home early. Somebody missed a rotation and Brooks nailed the three in the corner so we’ll look at the tape and see what happened for him to get open in that way but it was great to get the win.

“For the hardcore fans it was probably a little bit nerve wracking but for someone who has come for the first time it would be unbelievable. As a coach I was nervous, though. But I thought yet again the fans were fantastic. They keep on coming out week in, week out and me and the guys really appreciate their support.”

Akeem Ellis top scored with 22 points including six from beyond the arc, while Danny Huffor added 20 points and there was a double-double for Kinu Rochford, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds and put in a big shift at the defensive end.

Sheffield opened with the first five points, but the home side responded to take control with 12 unanswered points to open up a double-digit advantage. Cheshire led by as many as 14 in the second, but Sheffield rallied to close the gap back to 10 at the half.

The Sharks made their move late in the third as they would close to within a single point despite trailing by 11 at 50-39 at one stage. Brandon Hogg tied the game at 60 early in the fourth, but Cheshire were quick to move back ahead.

The visitors had the chance to take the lead in the final minute, but split four free throw attempts, and Ellis scored to make it 77-74 before the frantic finish ensued with the home side securing an important victory.

Cheshire moved above London courtesy of their 12th league win, while Sheffield missed the chance to pull further clear of fifth placed Glasgow Rocks.

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