WILDCATS BREAK LOSING RUN

Durham Wildcats kept their play-off hopes alive as they picked up their second victory of the British Basketball League season with a 90-86 home win against Cheshire Jets.

Coach Dave Elderkin was a happy man after the win, especially with his bench players who overcame a big first period deficit.

“I thought at first that we hadn’t got off the bus returning from Milton Keynes,” he said. “This soon changed to a realisation that poor defence the Jets to score 72 percent of their shots.”

From the starters only Mike Capocci had any minutes in the second period as the bench set about cutting into the Jets lead. Mark Elderkin, Chris Pearce, Notis Chalkidis, Liam O’Mahoney and Michael Davies worked with Mike Capocci to limit the Jets to 10 second period points while putting 21 into the Jets basket – Pearce had 19 at the half and the team 11 second period steals.

“The starters also played limited minutes in the third but played their part as we turned the one point half time deficit into a five point lead at the end of the third.

The Jets came back into it in the final period, Matt Schneck and Colin O’Reilly being the danger men, but a full house cheered home the Wildcats in a thrilling final quarter involving seven lead changes. Capocci top scored but Chris Pearce with 24 points, five rebounds, two assists and five steals caught the eye, well backed up in the final quarter by Paul Elderkin and DJ Glavan.

That game was Wildcats’ second of the weekend as they had gone down 82-73 at MK Lions on Friday evening as a dominant first three periods saw the home side take an unassailable lead. However Lions couldn’t complete a weekend double as Guildford Heat won 83-66 at Surrey Sports Park with former Lions player Mike Martin leading the way with 16 points.

Leaders Newcastle Eagles continued their fine season with a 94-77 victory against Mersey Tigers to improve their record to 14-1.

Glasgow Rocks suffered a stunning fourth quarter collapse as Plymouth Raiders produced an improbable rally to steal an 85-78 win.

Sterling Davis’ men had looked set to pull off an upset victory with captain EJ Harrison taking an instrumental role upon his return to the Glasgow line-up after two months out through injury. Ahead by as much as 21 midway through second period, the Kelvin Hall outfit – who were 56-39 clear at half-time – simply unravelled as their hosts embarked upon a late 19-0 run.

And despite a game-high 28 points from American guard Mychal Green, the Rocks could not produce a decisive response as they were eventually out-scored 30-8 in the final period as Plymouth closed the gap on leaders Newcastle.

“We just got into a funk in the fourth quarter where we kept waiting around for someone else to make a play while they kept scoring,” said Green. “It’s frustrating. We were still up 15 at the end of the third but when you stop playing defence, this is what can happen. Plymouth had fresher legs and they just running up and down and we didn’t respond.”

It wrecked a perfect weekend for the Rocks who pulled off a surprise 87-82 victory at Leicester Riders 24 hours earlier, sparked by 26 points from Scotland captain Gareth Murray. “It was good to win in Leicester but we can’t take anything from the loss,” Green added. “There are no moral victories.”

The Riders bounced back on Sunday to hand Cheshire Jets their second defeat of the weekend as 23 points from Bradd Wierzbicki helped them to an 80-73 win at Northgate Arena.

Second placed Worcester Wolves also saw their title hopes take a knock as Jimmy Langhurst’s basket with 7.5 seconds remaining saw hosts Sheffield seal a thrilling 74-73 victory at the EIS on Friday evening.

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