by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix breezed past the Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Championship.
The Nix played stifling defense all night long, as they held their opponents to just 40% FG and 16% 3PT shooting. Cheshire did a great job turning defense into offense as they made their opponents pay for their mistakes with baskets from every spot on the court. Parker Jackson-Cartwright had six of Cheshire’s 13 total steals. The American point-guard also contributed with 17 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Demonte Flannigan notched another double-double as he tallied a game-high 24 points along with 11 rebounds.
Flannigan opened Phoenix’s account with a turnaround jump shot, just 18 seconds into the first quarter. The Eagles were able to obtain the first significant lead of the game as they found themselves up 12-4 at the 6:36 mark after Nick Schlitzer and Eddie Matthews connected on a couple of three-point shots. The Nix showed their resilience as they rallied back and drew level just two minutes later. Disraeli Lufadeju made the play of the quarter as he connected on a three-point shot while drawing contact, meaning he earned himself a four-point play. Cheshire embarked on a late 14-2 run which helped them go into the second quarter up 28-19.
The second period of play was marked by the exceptional defense and three-point prowess displayed by the Nix. Jackson-Cartwright, Louis Sayers, and even Flannigan joined in the three-point frenzy. Flannigan provided the highlight of the first half as threw down a reverse slam following a steal on the defensive end. Cheshire completely dominated the second quarter as they were able to make shots from anywhere on the court. Ben Thomas’ team went into the locker room up 57-38.
The Eagles opened the second half a little better, as they went on a 6-0 run inside the first two minutes. Sayers finally stopped the bleeding with a jump-shot from the key. Newcastle desperately tried to reduce Phoenix’s advantage to single-digits, however, the Nix remained calm. Cheshire controlled the tempo throughout the quarter. The hosts managed to win the third quarter, however, the Nix still went into the fourth up by a comfortable margin of 16 points.
Ben Mockford began the final quarter with a mini 4-0 run of his own, which ballooned Phoenix’s lead to a then game-high 20 points. Phoenix’s suffocating defense starved their opponents for almost four minutes, as Newcastle failed to score until the 6:14 mark of the final quarter. The Eagles looked deflated during the entire fourth quarter, while on the other hand, the Nix were full of enthusiasm and poise. In the end, Cheshire eclipsed their opponents, 88-70.
KEY TEAM STAT: 13 steals. The Nix played great defense all night long, which in turn gave them more opportunities on the offensive end. Cheshire managed to create significant separation because their offense worked just as well as their defense.