Newcastle Eagles reached the BBL Trophy final with a 104-84 win over Sheffield Sharks, taking the two-legged tie 220-168 on aggregate.
Fab Flournoy’s men will now attempt to lift the prize for the third time in the last four years when they face Plymouth Raiders, whom they beat in January’s BBL Cup Final, over two legs next month.
Joe Chapman led all-scorers as seven three-pointers helped him to 31 points, to add to his 37 in the first leg, ably supported by Andrew Thomson’s 19 points and 8 rebounds. Mike Tuck led the resistance with a double-double of 28 points and 13 rebounds for the Sharks.
The Eagles were defending a commanding lead from the first leg and they raced into a 9-4 lead on a trio of early three-pointers: two for Charles Smith and one for Thomson. But the Sharks were undeterred as they forced the Eagles into three consecutive misses – all inside the arc – while notching a 10-2 burst that included 4 points each for Colin Sing and Tuck as the visitors led 11-14. The Sharks held their lead into the final minute of the first quarter, with Tuck already on 10 points, only for Chapman to better him with 5 points, including a triple on the buzzer, for 13 first quarter points and an Eagles lead of 24-23. They never trailed thereafter.
Paul Gause and Chapman scored the opening baskets of the second period, in what became a 9-0 run across the break as the Eagles led 28-23. And the hosts, Chapman in particular, stretched that lead out to double-digits at 40-30 midway through the period with two more three-pointers from the guard, who had 24 points in the opening 15 minutes of the contest. Despite a slight rally from the Sharks, including a three-pointer from Olu Babalola, the Eagles again finished with a burst: this time holding their hosts scoreless for two minutes while pouring in 10 points of their own with Gause scoring on the buzzer to end the second quarter as he had started it.
The lead only grew through the early exchanges of the third quarter, and went through the twenty-mark midway through as Smith’s basket made the score 65-45 before another Thomson three-pointer extended it further. But the Sharks came back to win the quarter – the only period that they won across the two-legged contest – as Babalola and Justin Dobbins scored 6 points each and Sing added five, including a three-pointer, with the Sharks going 21-11 over the last five minutes of the third quarter to trail 81-68.
But the Sharks would not get much closer – the closest they got was at 82-72 on Tuck’s basket one minute into the fourth quarter. From there the Eagles scored the next two baskets and held the Sharks scoreless for two minutes, eventually going through the century, as they had also done in the first leg, when an Andrew Bridge three-pointer made the score 100-84 with 2.16 left.
The Sharks would not score again as Newcastle’s bench were admirable down the stretch, with Joel Madourie, Ross Wilson and Lamar Morrison all getting on the scoresheet, as did all ten of their players on the night.
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