by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix defeated the Plymouth Raiders after an impressive fourth-quarter comeback.
The Raiders controlled the majority of the fixture, however, the Nix played their best basketball when it counted most. A great team effort propelled the Nix to their sixth win of the season.
Despite sustaining a lead from the first quarter all the way through to the fourth, the Raiders blew it in the final minutes. Jalen Hayes and Parker Jackson-Cartwright starred in the fourth as they helped Cheshire mount a famous comeback.
Jackson-Cartwright erupted for 29 points on 10-20 FG and 5-10 3PT, while Jalen Hayes contributed with a great all-round performance as he tallied 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Rashad Hassan led all Plymouth scorers with 21 points on 10-13 FG.
The Nix got off to a great start as they made three of their first four shots and created an early four-point separation. Cheshire pushed their advantage to six at the mid-way point of the quarter. The hosts struggled on the offensive end as they missed seven of their first 10 attempts. Despite their slow start Paul James’ men recovered quickly as they embarked on a dazzling 8-0 run and found themselves on the high side for the first time at the 3:14 mark. The Raiders closed the first stanza slightly better as they outscored the Nix 6-to-5 during the last three minutes which meant they went into the second quarter up 19-16.
Will Neighbour opened the second period of play with a make from beyond the arc which pushed Plymouth’s advantage to six. Phoenix struggled on the offensive end at the beginning of the quarter as they only amassed two points in the opening three minutes. Cheshire’s offensive problems meant that Plymouth’s lead swole up to 11 at the 5:06 mark. The Nix battled hard until the half-time buzzer and their work paid off as they trimmed the deficit to eight heading into the second half.
The two teams traded baskets to start off the third quarter. Plymouth’s initial eight-point lead remained intact until the 6:43 mark when Jackson-Cartwright’s lay-up reduced the deficit to six. Hayes followed up with a couple of makes from the stripe which brought the visitors within four points of the Raiders. Cheshire’s good work was wiped out during the mid-way point of the quarter by a 5-0 stretch from Plymouth. The Nix played stifling defense in the closing stages of the third quarter, which in turn helped their offense as they trimmed Plymouth’s lead down to five before the start of the final frame.
The Nix were presented with plenty of opportunities from the three-point line at the start of the fourth, however, they failed to connect on every occasion. On the other hand, the Raiders punished their opponents with a make from three-point land at the 8:52 mark. Plymouth pushed their lead back up to double-digits thanks to a Hassan turnaround jumper at the 7:55 mark. PJC and Hayes connected on back-to-back three-point attempts and helped the Nix reduce the deficit to four at the 4:19 mark. Hayes’ made-basket in the paint tied the game at 70-apiece. Jackson-Cartwright’s step-back-three gave Cheshire a one-point advantage with just a minute and a half left in the ball game. Flannigan followed up with a tough lay-up that extended Cheshire’s lead to three with just 8.5 seconds left on the clock. Phoenix executed the final possession perfectly and thus secured themselves a 77-74 victory on the road.
KEY TEAM STAT: 41 REB. The Nix lost the rebounding battle in the first half, however, they turned it around in the second period and won the battle on the boards, 41-to-37. The Nix played selfless basketball as they accumulated 18 assists to Plymouth’s 13.