by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix captured their first victory in the BBL Championship against the Sheffield Sharks.
The Nix used the convincing 86-67 triumph to extend their positive run against the Sharks to eight consecutive victories in all competitions, stretching across three different seasons. Cheshire led for 39 minutes and 13 seconds as their opponents failed to get themselves in front after Noah Dickerson scored the first bucket of the night at the 9:29 mark of the opening quarter.
Ben Thomas’ men shot the ball really efficiently, as they connected on 54.4% of their attempts from the field, 44.4% from three-point land and 80% from the charity stripe. The hosts restricted the visitors to just 39.7% shooting from the floor and an abysmal 25% from behind the arc. The Sharks matched Phoenix’s 80% efficiency from the foul line, however they were heavily out-rebounded (46-to-27) and also accumulated five fewer assists (15) than the home side (20). Cheshire’s second-unit outscored Sheffield’s bench by 31-to-21.
The Nix looked extremely motivated to get their first regular season win on the board, as they got off to a scorching-hot start, outscoring the Sharks by 27-to-11 in the first 10 minutes of the night. Austin led the way with eight first quarter points in his first outing in front of the Phoenix faithful.
Atiba Lyons’ team stabilised the contest in the second stanza as they found some momentum and outscored the Nix by 12-to-6 in the final five minutes of the half to reduce the deficit to 10 at the interval.
Cheshire’s stifling defence returned in the penultimate frame, as the Sharks were held to only 10 points in 10 minutes. The Nix turned defence into offence as they increased their cushion to 21 points heading into the final quarter.
Phoenix’s lead then ballooned to a game-high 24 points after Namon Wright drilled a three-pointer at the 4:30 mark of the fourth quarter, however the visitors closed the game a little better and it was Aaron Anderson who scored the final points of the night from the foul line to cut the losing margin to below 20.
Wright scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the floor, including 3-of-7 from deep. The American guard also added nine rebounds, three assists and a couple of blocks and steals to his Player of the Game performance.
Teddy Okereafor (12) and Ben Mockford (10) also finished in double-figure scoring while Larry Austin impressed once again off the bench as he tallied 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor in just 17 minutes on the court.
Michael Ochereobia supplied the Nix with eight points, seven rebounds, two blocks and finished with a game-high Plus/Minus of +22.
Kipper Nichols and Anderson scored a joint team-high 11 points for the Sharks while Jonathan Williams and Rodney Glasgow Jr. finished just behind with 10 points apiece.