by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix obtained a six-point win over the Glasgow Rocks after a nail-biting ending at the EPSV.
Despite missing key players Ben Mockford and Larry Austin Jr, the Nix managed to extend their winning run to three straight games after they defeated Gareth Murray’s team for the third time this season. The Nix have now won eight out of their last 10 games in all competitions.
Despite struggling from the free-throw line (10-22 FT; 45%) and not delivering the most lethal performance from behind the arc (9-30 3PT; 30%), the Nix made up for it with their interior presence, as they accumulated 54 points inside the paint and made 71% of their two-point attempts. Cheshire shot 53% from the floor and assisted on 20 of 37 made-baskets.
The Rocks, who came into the building as the best shooting side in the league lived up to their reputation as they made 52% of their shots from the floor and 50% of their attempts from three-point land, however they failed to steals the win on the road.
The Rocks, led by superstar point-guard Jordan Johnson, got off to a great start as they dictated the tempo of the first frame and exploded for 32 first quarter points. The Nix battled well as they never allowed the deficit to reach double-digits, despite Glasgow’s red-hot start to the game. Thomas’ men accumulated 24 points before the end of the first quarter and went into the second stanza down by eight points.
Cheshire started the second act with an 11-0 run, however the two sides found themselves all square at 35 points apiece at the half-way point of the quarter. The Nix landed the first punch as they embarked on a quick 5-0 run before the Scottish side struck back with a 7-0 run, which meant that Cheshire trailed by two points with two minutes remaining in the first half. The hosts kept the visitors scoreless for the remainder of the half, while they added six points to go into the break with a four-point cushion.
The Nix extended their lead to 13 at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter as they opened the second half with three consecutive makes from three-point territory whilst keeping the visitors scoreless in the process. Namon Wright pushed Phoenix’s lead to a game-high 16 points with a flashy dunk at the 4:35 mark, however that’s when the Rocks began chipping away at the lead. Gareth Murray’s team closed the quarter well as they outscored the Nix by 17-to-7 after Wright’s dunk, however the Nix still found themselves six points clear.
The Rocks threatened to claw back into the ascendancy throughout the entire fourth quarter, however the Nix did well to find an answer each time the visitors tried to spark a run or made a tough shot. Cheshire’s lead was trimmed to just one point on three separate occasions but Thomas’ men showed great resilience and determination as they never allowed the Rocks to get back in front. Levi Bradley made the biggest shot of the night, as he drilled a three-pointer from the wing with just 39 seconds left, giving the Nix some much needed breathing room in crunch-time. Jaycee Hillsman had the opportunity to tie the game with 23 seconds on the clock, however the American forward missed both of this attempts from the charity stripe. Michael Ochereobia and Levi Bradley converted their freebies on the other end and Cheshire triumphed in the end, 93-87.
Bradley finished with a game-high 28 points on 12-of-16 shooting from the floor. The American forward also added four rebounds, three steals and a block to his performance.
Wright stuffed the stat-sheet once again, as he totalled 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and one steal.
British forward Kyle Carey finished with a season-high 17 points while Ochereobia added 13 points and seven rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting from the floor.
Jordan Harris led the visitors in scoring with 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while Hillsman finished with 22 points on 6-of-8 shooting from deep. Johnson added 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting however he only dished out three assists and committed a couple of turnovers.