by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix crashed out of the BBL Trophy despite defeating the Newcastle Eagles on the road.
In similar fashion to the Plymouth game, the hosts controlled the majority of the fixture, however, they crumbled when the Nix turned up the heat in the fourth quarter.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright had the chance to steal a win from the jaws of a loss, as he attempted an outrageously deep three-pointer at the final horn. Newcastle’s fans were relieved to see his shot rim out just as the final buzzer sounded at the Eagles Community Arena.
Sade Aded-Hussaid led the way for the Eagles with 14 points (6-12 FG) and eight rebounds while Jackson-Cartwright notched himself a 21-point, 10-assist double-double.
The Eagles started off as the slightly better side as they outscored the visitors 7-to-4 in the opening three minutes of the game. A couple of silly turnovers by the Nix married with seven consecutive points from Eagles’ Sade Aded-Hussein meant that the guests found themselves down by five at the 6:33 mark. Cheshire wasted no time as they mounted an instant 5-0 run and tied the game at the 5:42 mark. The Nix closed the opening quarter in the best way possible as they out-scored their opponents 10-to-5 during the final three minutes which meant that they went into the second quarter up 19-14.
The Eagles jumped out to a quick 5-0 run in the opening minute and a half of the second quarter. The hosts regained the lead at the 7:44 mark after Kai Williams converted a lay-up on a 5-on-1 fast-break. The two sides exchanged leads at the mid-way point of the quarter, as they both failed to create any real separation. Ben Thomas’ men scored at will during the first half, however, their defense wasn’t up to scratch as they missed multiple switches and at times were very slow to actually get back on the other side of the court after a make or miss on the offensive end. The Nix possessed a slim one-point advantage until the 35.8-second mark when Rodney Glasgow put the Eagles into the ascendancy after he connected on a mid-range jumper. Cheshire went into the locker-room down 36-38 after they failed to score again before the end of the first half.
Phoenix struck first in the second half, thanks to a turn-around jumper by PJC. Demonte Flannigan tied the game with a lay-up at the 7:34 mark. The two sides traded leads once again during the mid-way point of the quarter before the home side created a five-point cushion for themselves after embarking on a sizzling 6-0 run. The Nix played hard in the third quarter, however, all of their efforts were matched by the Eagles in equal measure. PJC’s determination forced the Eagles to foul him on a Hail-Mary attempt from half-court, just before the buzzer sounded. Phoenix’s floor-general knocked down two of his three attempts from the charity stripe and tied the game, 54-54, heading into the fourth and final frame.
The Geordies held the Nix to just four points in the first four minutes of the final quarter, while Ian MacLeod’s side added nine points to create another five-point separation for themselves. The Nix trimmed the deficit to three at the five-minute mark. Jackson-Cartwright was the architect of a last-ditch 11-0 run, however, the admirable stretch wasn’t enough to overcome the nine-point deficit established by the Eagles in the first leg. Cheshire ran out victorious on the night, however, they lost the overall tie by the finest of margins, 154-155.
KEY TEAM STAT: 43 REB. The Nix made the most of C.J Gettys’ absence as they crashed the glass at an elite level and won the rebounding battle 43-to-31. The extra rebounds allowed Cheshire to score 16 second chance-points.