by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix defeated the Glasgow Rocks after a thrilling encounter at the Ellesmere Port Sports Village.
The Nix obtained their third consecutive victory in all competitions and maintained their unbeaten run in 2022 alive after they defeated the Scottish side by 20 points in front of a sold-out crowd.
Cheshire’s sizzling offense totalled 107 points on 56% shooting from the floor, including 11-of-24 (45%) shooting from three-point land, while their pesky defence forced the Rocks into 15 turnovers and an inferior 50% shooting from the floor. Phoenix’s bench unit outperformed their Glasgow counterparts as Larry Austin Jr. and Kyle Carey combined for 24 points while Fraser Malcolm, Jonny Bunyan and Murray Henry added just 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting.
The Nix opened the first quarter with an 8-0 run, energising the Phoenix faithful in the process. Glasgow finally got on the board at the 7:58 mark, however they were powerless in stopping the home side from exploding for 34 first quarter points. The Scottish side failed to match Phoenix’s offensive prowess and went into the second quarter trailing 22-to-34.
Cheshire’s lead ballooned up to 18 points at the 8:48 after Austin connected on back-to-back triples, however the gritty Rocks managed to stay in the game as they obtained stops and capitalised on the offensive end, eventually reducing the deficit to single-digits at the half-way point of the second stanza. Jordan Harris drilled a three-pointer on Glasgow’s last possession of the first half, which trimmed Phoenix’s advantage to six before the start of the third quarter.
Phoenix opened the second half much the same way they did the first, as they embarked on an 16-0 run before Glasgow finally managed to get their first bucket of the second half through a Harris three-pointer at the 5:45 mark of the penultimate quarter. Harris’ make ignited a 9-0 stretch by the visitors, however the Nix regrouped well, dominated the end of the quarter and pushed their advantage back up to 20 points. Bunyan converted a pair of free-throws before the end of the quarter however his team still trailed the Nix, 66-to-84.
The two sides traded buckets for the majority of the fourth quarter, with neither team able to piece together a significant run. Phoenix’s cushion reached a game-high 25-point mark with just over four minutes left in the game which allowed the hosts to take their foot off the gas in the dying minutes of the contest. The Nix extended their winning run to three straight games after they emerged victorious at the final buzzer, 107-87.
Namon Wright paved the way with a game-high 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor. The American guard stuffed the stat-sheet with eight rebounds, five assists, four blocks and a couple of steals.
Teddy Okereafor totalled 18 points (7-14 FG), seven assists, four rebounds, three steals whilst committing just one turnover.
Ben Mockford showed out with a 17-point, 5-assist performance in which he shot 50% from the field and also committed just one turnover.
Michael Ochereobia chipped in with a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double, in which he made five out of six attempts from the field. The 6’8 British center finished with a game-high +30 Plus/Minus.
Jordan Johnson, who came into the fixture as the third-best scorer (19 points-per-game) and top playmaker (9.8 assists-per-game) in the BBL Championship finished with just 11 points and six assists and actually fouled out of the game mid-way through the final quarter.
Jaycee Hillsman led the Rocks in scoring with 21 points on just 10 shots, while Harris finished with 20 points, four rebounds and four assists. Boban Jacdonmi had a good game for the Rocks, as he supplied his side with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.