by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix secured their fourth straight win in the BBL Cup against the Sheffield Sharks.
It was a game for the ages, as every quarter was closely contested and the last minute of regulation seemed to last an eternity. Ben Mockford played an integral part in the win, the shooting-guard contributed with 29 points on just 16 shots. The Nix played selfless basketball and created good looks for themselves, as they accumulated 21 assists on the night.
The Nix opened the game with a hammer-dunk by Jalen Hayes and an inventive lay-up by Louis Sayers, however the visitors responded with a 5-0 run to take a marginal lead. The two teams found themselves level, 12-12 at the midway point of the quarter. The Phoenix closed out the last three minutes on the front foot as they made some tough shots and went into the second quarter up 21-17.
The hosts started the second period of play slowly, as they went scoreless for the opening two minutes, before Momcilo Latinovic connected on a deep three-point shot at the 7:48 mark. Phoenix grabbed three offensive rebounds in the same play at the midway-point of the quarter, but they weren’t able to add any second-chance points as they missed all of their attempts. Cheshire’s five-point lead was wiped out by Sheffield after the away side mounted a 6-0 run. The Nix responded with their own 5-0 run towards the end of the first half, but the four point-lead they established at the of the first quarter was cut down to just two as Cheshire went into half-time up 31-29.
Nick Lewis sparked a 6-2 run for the Sharks at the beginning of the third quarter, as he knocked down a couple of shots from beyond the arc. The Nix matched Sheffield’s effort and restored their two-point advantage after a couple of good plays from Mockford and Parker Jackson-Cartwright. Lewis and Mockford traded baskets throughout the entire quarter , the two guards were simply lights-out from the field in the third. The Nix went into the final quarter up 55-54 after Sayers connected on a mid-range shot with nine second left in the third.
Neither team could create any real separation after the first three minutes of the fourth, as the Nix tightened their grip on their one-point lead. Cheshire eventually gained a five-point advantage after Sayers made a heavily contested three-point basket. Mockford’s three at the 5:07 mark meant that the Nix jumped out to their biggest lead of the night, six points. The Sharks battled hard to claw back into the game but Ben Thomas’ men made huge plays down the stretch and came out victorious, 76-72.
KEY TEAM STAT: 38% 3PT. The Nix shot brilliantly on the night, they also limited their turnovers to just eight and assisted 21 of their 27 makes.