by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix dropped their third game in the BBL Championship at the hands of the Worcester Wolves.
It was a complete contrast of the 5th of January fixture, in which the Nix completely dominated the Wolves. Jordan Williams contributed with a 16-point (7-14 FG) performance on his return to the Worcester starting five but it was Raheem May-Thompson who led the game in scoring, with 23 points on 9-13 FG. Cortez Edwards earned himself a triple-double as he tallied 16 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds in 37 minutes of play.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright led all Phoenix scorers with 13 points (5-15 FG) and he also picked up nine assists during the course of the game. The Nix were hampered by foul trouble which meant they were forced to sit key players, Disraeli Lufadeju and Michael Ochereobia for extended periods of the game. Jalen Hayes went down with a shoulder injury late in the second quarter and never returned.
The two sides traded buckets at the start of the game, however, the hosts pulled away at the mid-way point of the first, as they went on an 8-0 run in the space of just 90 seconds. Hayes stopped the bleeding at the 4:51 after the forward converted a lay-up attempt to bring Cheshire within three points of their opponents. Worcester closed the opening quarter well as they outscored Phoenix 12-2 during the last three minutes. The late run helped the Wolves establish an 11-point lead going into the second.
Unfortunately for the Nix, Ochereobia picked up his third foul at the 7:36 mark of the second quarter, meaning the Phoenix center had to sit for the remainder of the first half. The Nix trimmed Worcester’s lead to eight points at the 6:44 mark, however, the hosts erased Phoenix’s effort to get back into the game, as they created an 18-point cushion for themselves with less than three minutes remaining in the first half. The Nix suffered another blow late in the second quarter as Hayes went down with a shoulder injury. With everything seemingly going against them, The Nix found themselves down 29-42 at half-time.
The hosts were happy to just trade blows with the guests during the third period of play. Worcester’s lead hovered around the 13-point mark for the majority of the penultimate quarter. Cheshire’s defensive presence was diminished yet again at the 6:58 mark as Lufadeju picked up his fourth personal, meaning the combo guard had to retreat to the bench for a lengthy period of the game. Edwards’ lay-up at the 2:35 mark created a then game-high 19-point lead for the BBL Cup finalists. Phoenix entered the final quarter down 43-60.
The Nix began the fourth quarter positively as they drained a couple of shots from three-point territory, however, the Wolves didn’t allow their opponents to go on any scoring avalanches as they answered back almost immediately every time after Phoenix scored. Cheshire tried to get back into the game, but it was a case of too little, too late from Ben Thomas’ men. Worcester took care of business and sealed the win, 79-65.
KEY TEAM STAT: 13 Offensive Rebounds. The Nix done well in terms of hustle stats, as they grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, pick-pocketed their opponents on eight occasions and swatted away two shots. The Nix also had only nine turnovers, six fewer than the Wolves. Unfortunately for Cheshire, their shooting let them down yet again. 34 FG% and 25 3PT% were simply no good compared to Worcester’s 50 FG% and 27 3PT%.