by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix suffered a 16-point loss against the London Lions.
The Nix rectified their mistakes on the glass from last Sunday’s game against Newcastle, however, they failed to make the most of their second chance opportunities against the Lions. Despite hounding down 14 offensive boards, Ben Thomas’ side only scored eight second-chance points.
Phoenix led just once after Louis Sayers knocked down a three-pointer to put his team up 5-4 inside the first two minutes of the fixture.
Demonte Flannigan scored a game-high 27 points (11-18 FG) while Pharroh Gordon accumulated a game-high 13 rebounds off the bench. Buay Tauch had a perfect shooting night (7-7 FG) and totaled 16 points, while Justin Robinson led the Lions in scoring, with 19 points (7-16 FG).
Cheshire defended well to start off the game as their opponents made just one of their first six field-goal attempts. The Nix were unable able to turn defense into offense as they made just two of their first nine field-goal attempts. Their offensive slump allowed the Lions to jump out a 5-point lead at the mid-way point of the opening frame. Ovie Soko’s make from the free-throw line extended London’s lead to double-digits at the 2:02 mark. Cheshire failed to reduce the deficit before the end of the first stanza as they went into the second period of play down 15-26.
The Londoners opened the second quarter with a 9-3 run which put them ahead by 17 in the early stages of the quarter. Lockhart’s pair of free-throws at the 4:36 mark extended Lions’ lead to 20 points. With half-time just seconds away, Cheshire built some momentum with a late 8-0 run. Flannigan added six points in the process. The Lions went into the break up 44-29.
The two sides traded baskets at the beginning of the second half, however, the hosts eventually put their foot on the gas and left the Nix in the rear-view mirror as they embarked on an 11-0 run at the midway point of the third quarter. Gordon stopped the bleeding after he connected on a pull-up jumper from the key. The Nix kept their opponents scoreless for almost three minutes during the closing stages of the penultimate quarter. Thomas’ men managed to trim the deficit back down to 15 thanks to the great defensive stretch. Despite Cheshire’s efforts to further reduce London’s advantage, Vince Macaulay’s men remained resilient and went into the final quarter up 72-56.
It was a quiet start to the fourth and final quarter with the Lions seemingly in cruise control. The Nix continued to crash the glass, however, they weren’t able to convert second-chance opportunities and once again fell to a 12-point deficit. With every player locked in and focused on the ultimate goal of obtaining the improbable win, Cheshire tried to claw back into the game for the final time. A crafty finish at the rim from Ben Mockford brought the Nix within eight points of their opponents but unfortunately, that was as close as they got to the Lions. The Nix had just over five minutes to mount a famous comeback, however their attempts to further reduce the gap were dampened by the Lions’ stubborn approach – the Londoners were more than happy to slow the game down and grind out a 94-78 victory.
KEY TEAM STAT: 22 AST. The Nix played selfless basketball and went on great runs at times throughout the game. Despite this, their shooting was lackluster and the team’s carelessness in possession proved to be costly as the Lions capitalized on the 19 turnovers committed by the Phoenix and cruised to a comfortable win.