by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix were defeated in their first pre-season game against the Bristol Flyers.
The Nix seemed to be in control of the game before they ran out out of gas in the third quarter. Phoenix rebounded poorly, losing the battle on the boards, 26-to-39, which meant that the Flyers had ample second-chance opportunities. Kahron Ross was spectacular in his Phoenix debut, scoring 30 points on 12-for-17 shooting. Cheshire’s other debutants, Devin Mitchell and Sehill Mouliom combined for 29 points on 11-for-23 shooting.
Zach Copeland led the way for the visitors with a 22-point, 9-assist performance with Marcus Delpeche also contributing with an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double.
The Nix jumped out to an early five-point advantage thanks to multiple baskets made by the newcomers, Ross and Mitchell. The visitors made just two of their first seven attempts from the field, however they stayed close to the Nix thanks to their ability of getting to the free-throw line. The sides exchanged baskets throughout the mid-way point of the quarter, with the Flyers edging closer to the Nix and eventually taking the lead for a brief period. A late 8-3 surge by Phoenix meant that Ben Thomas’ men went into the second period up 24-20.
Mouliom led the charge for the Nix at the beginning of the second quarter, with an alley-oop finish and acrobatic and-one lay-up, however, the Frenchman’s efforts were in vain as Phoenix’s lead was unchanged, with Bristol answering back on every occasion. It was a Mouliom lay-up that eventually widened Phoenix’s lead to seven at the 5:07 mark. Ross starred during the mid-way point of the quarter with an impressive 6-0 solo run, meaning he had 19 points at the half. Cheshire went into the locker room up 43-38.
The Nix edged out the first three minutes of the third quarter with a 8-5 run which pushed their lead to eight, however Bristol recovered quickly and reduced the deficit back down to four at the 5:40 mark. Ross stopped the bleeding at the 4:32 mark after he knocked down a couple of free-throws. Bristol got to within a point of the Nix after Daniel Edozie converted his crafty and-one play, before Copeland’s lay-up in transition finally put the visitors into the ascendancy. Copeland’s wide-open three at 2:32 mark extended Bristol’s lead to four. Ross was able to reduce the deficit to just two, with a last-second lay-up, as the guests went into the final frame up 61-59.
Phoenix levelled the score early thanks to Mitchell’s lay-up through traffic, however the Flyers answered back with a merciless 7-0 stretch. Delpeche’s put-back lay-up increased Bristol’s lead to eight before Davis’ turnaround make gave the visitors their first double-digit lead of the game, with 6:38 remaining. The Nix were given a lifeline after a couple of three-point baskets from sharpshooter Mitchell reduced Flyers’ advantage to four with well over five minutes left to play, however Thomas’ side failed to recuperate their original lead and dropped the game 78-86.
KEY TEAM STAT: 49% FG. The Nix were efficient from the field tonight, however they let themselves down by allowing their opponents to grab 39 rebounds (13 offensive).