SCHNECK DOMINANT IN JETS RETURN

Cheshire Jets continue to lurk in the BBL title picture after cruising to a 98-81 win at Guildford Heat on Sunday.

On his return after a three-month suspension for a positive drug test, American centre Matt Schneck showed no signs of rust, delivering 25 points and 8 rebounds for the Northgate outfit.

Mike Martin, on his birthday, had 21 points for Guildford.

Elsewhere, Glasgow Rocks ended their mini-slump with a 78-72 win over Milton Keynes Lions.

It was a far from an accomplished showing from the Kelvin Hall outfit who remain in third place, two points behind leaders Newcastle. No matter, said EJ Harrison, who scored a game-high 24 points against his old club. “Sometimes you have to win ugly,” he said.

Down 21-10 in the first period, Milton Keynes surged back to lead 45-43 at half-time. The Rocks cause was hindered when Mike Copeland hobbled off early in the third quarter but they responded with 11 unanswered points to go in front once more.

Milton Keynes, paced by 18 points and 17 rebounds from ex-Rocks forward Shawn Myers, fought back to level at 61-61 at the outset of the fourth but Harrison hit a three-pointer which ignited a decisive 9-0 run. And the Scots finished off the tie at the foul line with Lions coach Mike New indignant.

24 hours after snaring a first win of this campaign, Essex Pirates have started another losing streak. Tim Lewis’ young side showed some signs of fatigue as they were thrashed 98-72 at Plymouth Raiders.

Gavin Love’s men led Essex 56-42 at half-time before extending their advantage to 26 headed into the fourth.

Anthony Rowe hit a game-high 26 points, with GB cap Germayne Forbes adding 6 on his debut, as the Raiders coasted. Adrien Sturt led Essex with 18.

Saturday: Finally .. Pirates break duck

At the 26th time of asking, Essex PIrates finally won their first game of the season, pulling off a 94-90 overtime victory at Worthing Thunder.

And Tim Lewis’ men did it the hard way, coming back from a double-digit deficit to break their duck after several near-misses.

Led by Taner Adu and Zac Gachette who combined for 49 points, Essex produced a fantastic fourth quarter to force the extra period and then found the belief to get the win over their fellow strugglers.  And Lewis was understandably delighted.

Lewis was thrilled at Essex's win

“Although there was lots of hype surrounding this match, it was just another game for us,” he said.

“We did a great team job tonight and although we have come close on a number of occasions we deserved to win.”

Trailing 69-59, the Pirates made their run at the start of the fourth period. Dan Briglia came alive and supported Adu and Gachette in a 14-4 run that leveled the contest at 73-73.

Ronnie Baker missed the chance to break an 84-84 tie at the end of regulation but in overtime, Adu drilled home a three-pointer at 89-86 which proved decisive.

Lewis added: “We are a young and inexperienced team but tonight we showed a lot of commitment and dedication to get the victory.”

Elsewhere, there was just as much excitement at the opposite end of the table as both Sheffield and Newcastle crashed to defeats.

Leicester Riders survived a late wobble against Newcastle but clung on for a 102-99 home win after being led by guard JR Blount who poured in 40 points.

The loss completed a miserable weekend for the Eagles with coach Fab Flournoy not travelling despite having made a speedy return from his recent illness the night before.

While they almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, it was a deserved win for the home team who had built on their slender 51-50 half-time lead to edge themselves further ahead at 81-77 by the end of three periods.

At the start of the fourth Leicester blasted the game open to move 97-85 in front. The Eagles rallied with a 12-2 run and although a dunk by Karidi Richard brought it to within one point in the last minute, Riders clung on.

Charles Smith and Darius Defoe both claimed double-doubles for the visitors but it wasn’t enough

Worcester Wolves meanwhile continue their renaissance with a similarly impressive home-floor success. Much to the delight of Paul James, they dented the title hopes of Sharks with a hard fought 71-67 victory which left the play-caller thrilled with the outcome.

“We were always confident.” explained James. ” I said to the guys we needed a 40 minute performance and that was exactly what we got.”

The game was perfectly poised at 51-51 heading into the last quarter and little separated the sides until the final minute when Wolves, led by 19 from Justin Dobbins, stepped up their defence and made some foul shots down the stretch to take a fine win.

Mike Tuck had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for Sharks.

Friday: Jackson return can’t save Eagles

Reggie Jackson re-joined Newcastle Eagles for a second stint but he couldn’t stop his side from losing 102-98 in his second debut against Sheffield Sharks.

The American guard has been without a club since being released by the BBL champions last summer but has accepted a three-month deal as a replacement for the injured Joe Chapman.

With Jackson hitting his first three shots in a 15-point showing, Newcastle – watched by ailing coach Fab Flournoy – built a 23-17 cushion after the first quarter at Sports Central but Sheffield hit back in the second, trading leads before Marcus Stout levelled at 41-41 at half-time.

Trey Moore – who fired a game-best 39 points – propelled the hosts into a 67-59 advantage late in the third but Sharks fired off seven unanswered points to tee up a final period decider which saw the visitors, led by 20 from Stout, prevail.

Elsewhere, Mersey Tigers hit 10 unanswered points in the opening minutes to spark a 83-59 victory over rivals Glasgow Rocks at the Kelvin Hall.

The visitors shown no sign of their off-court problems as Drew Sullivan and Tafari Toney bullied their foes and helped open up a 29-17 gap at the end of the opening quarter.

And a further 10-0 run in the second increased their advantage to as much as 19 as the Tigers claimed a 49-30 half-time lead.

With Sullivan and Nate Reinking dominant, the Tigers increased their cushion to 56-32 midway through the third and although Glasgow briefly rallied with a 7-0 spurt, it was a listless showing from Sterling Davis’ men as they meekly edged toward a second loss in a row, coming no closer than 14 in the fourth before a 14-2 restored the natural order.

“That’s the best we’ve played as a team since December,” said Mersey coach Tony Garbelotto. “We needed the two weeks off to put in some new things.”

Reinking hit a game-high 22 points while Mike Kingma led the hosts on 17. “We have to understand we’ve got no right to win games,” said Davis.

Milton Keynes Lions winning run came to an end as Cheshire Jets, led by 33 from Gareth Murray, kept themselves in the title race with a 115-98 road win.

In an ill-tempered encounter, Mike New’s men only trailed 47-44 at the break but, after six consecutive victories, they failed to contain the short-handed Jets who will be strengthened for Sunday’s trip to Guildford by the return of Matt Schneck after a three-month suspension.

Amid a late surge, Milton Keynes trimmed the gap to 92-90 until Murray made the last of his seven three-pointers as the Jets secured the win from the free throw line.

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