by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix suffered a gut-wrenching double-overtime loss against the Bristol Flyers.
The two sides put on a great show for those in attendance at the SGS College Arena but unfortunately, the Nix found themselves on the losing side at the end of the 50 minutes of play.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright showed out with a 31-point, 11-assist double-double. Phoenix’s point-guard also accumulated seven steals on the night. Gentrey Thomas led the way for the Flyers with a 32-point, 16-rebound double-double.
Ben Mockford only played nine minutes before checking out for the remainder of the game because of flu-like symptoms. Fred Thomas didn’t play at all for Bristol because of a wrist injury.
The Nix contained their opponents well to start off the game, however, their careless rebounding gifted the Bristol a couple of second-chance opportunities which allowed the home side to take the first lead of the game. Jackson-Cartwright and Thomas traded three-point baskets at the midway point of the first quarter. The Flyers were excellent on the offensive glass, they were able to repeatedly out-muscle the Nix in the paint. The home side benefitted massively from their superiority in the rebounding battle as they went ahead by seven points with less than three minutes remaining in the first. The hosts closed the first quarter a little better than the guests and went into the second period of play up 22-15.
The Flyers opened the second quarter with a 5-2 run, however, Cheshire replied with a more impressive 9-2 run which trimmed Bristol’s advantage to three with 6:33 left in the first half. Jalen Hayes’ three-point bucket at the 4:42 mark brought Phoenix to within one point of their opponents. Cheshire leveled the game at the 2:48 mark after Demonte Flannigan connected on a long two-point shot. The Nix looked to close the half on a high however a late 6-2 run inspired by Daniel Edozie’s back-to-back three-point baskets meant that Cheshire went into the locker room down 39-44 after the first 20 minutes.
The Flyers opened the second half well as they extended their initial five-point lead to a 10-point cushion at the 7:50 mark. The Nix struggled to get their offense going, as Demonte Flannigan, Jackson-Cartwright, and Hayes all misfired during the first few minutes of the third quarter. The Nix persevered and eventually, their relentlessness paid off. A 6-0 run during the mid-way point of the third prompted coach Kapoulas to call an emergency time-out as the Nix edged closer to leveling up the scores yet again. Phoenix gained the lead after the initial 6-0 run was transformed into a 13-0 avalanche. Raphaell Thomas-Edwards stopped the bleeding for Bristol at the 2:48 mark after he made a tough lay-up in the paint. The Nix outscored their opponents by eight points in the third quarter, which propelled them to a 59-56 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Louis Sayers knocked down an open three-point shot to give Cheshire its first points in the final quarter. Jackson-Cartwright picked up his fourth steal of the game at mid-court and drew a clear-path foul in the process. PJC converted his free-throws and scored on the following possession, giving Cheshire a four-point advantage with just over five minutes left in the game. Michael Ochereobia made a huge shot from the top of the key which gave Cheshire a three-point cushion with just 70 seconds left in the game. Unfortunately, Phoenix’s big-man fouled Levi Bradley on a three-point attempt and Bristol’s forward converted all of his attempts from the free-throw line. Cheshire had the chance to win it at the horn but PJC’s jumper was just short, which meant that an additional five minutes were required to separate the two teams.
Cheshire started the first OT period well as they scored the opening five points. Sayers’ back-to-back triples created a five-point cushion for the Nix, with 2:19 left. The Nix maintained their lead until the final 40 seconds of overtime. The hosts mounted 5-0 run during the dying moments of OT, which meant that an extra five minutes were needed to decide the winners.
Neither side found any early separation in the second overtime period. The two teams decided to trade baskets and exchange leads instead. Josh Rogers’ clutch three-point basket with just 52 seconds left on the clock proved to be a game-changing play. Thomas followed up with an and-one basket which meant that Bristol snatched the win from the jaws of a loss as they outscored Cheshire 6-0 during the final minute of the game and emerged victorious 98-94.
KEY TEAM STAT: 18 Offensive Rebounds. Despite their struggles on the defensive glass, the Nix were successful in obtaining second chance opportunities for themselves. Their opponents had a great shooting night as they made 40% of their attempts from deep and 80% of their attempts from the free-throw line. The Nix were much poorer in those departments as they made just 25% of their shots from three-point territory and only connected on 68% of their attempts from the charity stripe.