Image courtesy: Ville Vuorinen /

Guildford Heat have booked a place in the BBL Trophy final for the third time in four years. Despite losing the second leg of their semi-final 94-87 to Leicester Riders, they pulled off an aggregate 172-159 win.

The Heat, who won the competition in 2007/08, had to withstand a spirited fight from the Riders, who came close to overturning the deficit as their lead reached 19 points at 70-51 in the third quarter.

The hosts had given an immediate debut to veteran forward Robert Youngblood as well as American rookie Jo Harris who scoring 19 on his first professional outing. The 22-year-old power forward, who graduated from Carolina Coastal University in the summer, averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds a game in the last two seasons on his way to becoming the only player in Big South Conference history to record more than 1,300 points and 1,100 points during a college career.

But with Tayo Ogedengbe (pictured) leading the Heat with 22, the visitors stood firm and ensured their place in the finale against either Newcastle or Mersey.

“To complete the first part and reach the BBL Trophy Final is a fantastic achievement for the club but we don’t want to just be happy to be playing in it,” said heat forward Julius Joseph. “We want to now go on and win it. We have our eyes on the prize and now we want to get our hands on it too.

“You have to give credit to the Riders who really did a good job. It was a battle and at one point, they effectively wiped out our huge first leg lead. Having said that, it’s always difficult playing in a game when you start with a 20 point cushion.

“I told the rest of the guys to focus and not to continually do calculations after each basket but it is one of the most difficult things to do in the game – to not continually think about the aggregate score. It was emotional and it was intense but we managed to dig deep and get the aggregate win.”

Thomson shines as Tigers book Cup semi spot

Mersey Tigers advanced into the BBL Cup semi-finals with an 82-78 victory over Glasgow Rocks. With the television cameras – and a full house – present, Sterling Davis’ men produced one of their best showings of the season so far. Unfortunately for them, the visitors – even minus the injured Tafari Toney 0 underlined why they are being tipped to dominate the domestic scene to advance to the last four.

The Kelvin Hall outfit reeled off eight unanswered points early on to surge 12-3 but England centre Andy Thomson hit 16 of his game-high tally of 31 in a seven-minute spell to pull the visitors back into contention.

Although Nick Livas secured a 25-24 advantage for the hosts at the end of the first period, Sullivan sent the league leaders in front for good with the opening basket of the second. And with his GB team-mate Nate Reinking adding extra firepower off the bench on his Mersey debut, the Tigers ruthlessly extended the gap to 47-35 at half-time.

An 8-0 Glasgow run at the start of the third quarter re-ignited the contest and another seven unanswered points briefly put the hosts ahead at the outset of the fourth. However, Mersey’s all-British line-up underlined their current omnipotence with a 10-0 flurry to surge clear and this time, the Rocks, paced by 22 from EJ Harrison, could find no way back despite a late rally.

“We had too many lapses,” declared Davis. “In the second quarter we didn’t play well, we battled back, it went back and forth but at the end, we just didn’t get stops. And you can’t do that against a good team like Mersey.”

Jets return to League top spot

Cheshire Jets moved top of the BBL Championship table after a hard fought 90-85 home win over Sheffield.

After a tight first half, Sharks controlled the third quarter with Ryan Patton’s three forming the backbone of a 9-2 to give them a 64-57 advantage. Jets trimmed the gap slightly to make it 69-65 with ten minutes to play.

Sheffield came undone as they allowed Jets to go on an 11-5 burst to open the final quarter. Despite getting back to a one point deficit on four occasions they could never find the vital basket with Quemont Greer’s tip in with less than a second remaining making the game safe for Jets.

Plymouth Raiders continued their revival after a slow start to the season with a comfortable 95-80 win over the visiting Worcester Wolves.

Gavin Love’s team built on their 49-43 half time advantage with three threes by Cody Toppert helping them move out to a 13 point margin (75-62) heading into the final stanza. Raiders’ lead never dipped below 11 in the fourth quarter with 89-69 being the largest difference between the teams.

24 hours earlier, Wolves took a share of fourth spot as they eased past Essex Pirates by 93-60 in the Midlands. Danny Gilbert led the scoring with 25 points, including five three-pointers on a night when the Wolves hit twelve triples. He was supported by 15 points each for Middleton and Normantas.

The Pirates led 18-17 after the first quarter, only for the Wolves to score 31 points in the second quarter, including five three-pointers. Gilbert scored seven in a row to give them a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish as Essex remained winless this season.

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