Cheshire Jets held their nerve to set up a BBL Cup semi-final showdown with Sheffield after squeezing past Leicester Riders 109-100 as the last-four line-up was completed.

Last year’s beaten finallists – led by 33 points from Jeremy Bell -dominated the first three quarters, despite a quick start from the Riders as Jo Harris scored the first 4 points of the game in his BBL Cup debut. Harris would be the only Rider to score in the opening four and a half minutes: he had 8 by that time as the game was tied at 8. The Jets pushed on to lead 14-10 on consecutive Matt Schneck baskets, before Gareth Murray and Bell combined for 7 straight points, with the score becoming 21-12 on the latter’s three-pointer. It was 28-21 after the opening ten minutes.

A lightening start to the second stanza saw 23 points scored in the opening two and a half minutes, the Jets extending their margin to 41-31. The Jets went 49-36 ahead as Colin O’Reilly hit a pair of three-pointers and the double-digit lead was maintained through to the half, with the score at 62-52 after a high-scoring period.

A pair of early scores from Harris  en route to a team high 29 – and a Tony Windless three-pointer helped the Riders eat into the deficit immediately after the break, the score at 69-64 after five minutes. But the Jets rallied, led by Calvin Davis, and his three-pointer helped the hosts back out to 77-68. Bell scored 7 points for the Jets in the final three minutes of the period, and his triple ended the third with his team leading 84-73.

The Riders were within striking distance, and a rapid 8-0 start to the fourth, including two baskets for Robert Youngblood, made it a one possession game at 84-81 on a Ryan Zamroz breakaway. Bell stemmed the flow and the teams continued to trade baskets, but within the last five minutes, Zamroz was fouled shooting a three-pointer, making 2/3 free-throws for a score of 91-89. But that was as close as the Riders would get, as their momentum was halted by an ‘and-one’ play from Ricardo Greer, before the Jets pushed the score through the century-mark at 102-91 as O’Reilly scored consecutive baskets, and they saw the game out from the free-throw line.

Newcastle Eagles bounced back from a slow start to book a semi-final against Mersey with a 105-76 victory over Worcester at Sport Central.  A 14-1 tear in the third period gave the Eagles a 69-49 lead and they never looked back from there.

Trey Moore was hugely effective for Newcastle

An impressive 26 points from Trey Moore, assisted by a further 23 points from Joe Chapman and Darius Defoe helped the Eagles to victory while Daniel Gilbert was the best man for the Wolves with 24 points personal for the visitors.

Newcastle now take on Mersey Tigers in the semis, with the first leg on Tyneside next Friday and then in Liverpool a week on Wednesday, with a place at January’s Birmingham final at stake.

In the other last four tie, Sheffield had to work hard to overcome the Raiders 96-84. After a close first quarter the home side stretched ahead 39-29 off the back of a 12-4 burst before a pair of three-pointers from Evaldas Zabas for the Raiders trimmed the deficit slightly to 55-46 at the half.

A strong start from the visitors to the third quarter gave them a 57-58 lead thanks to a 12-2 start to the quarter, but that was the last time that the visitors found themselves in front in the game as Ryan Patton bagged the next seven points for the home side to help them re-take the lead which they held until the end of the game.

Patton led the Sharks in scoring with 21 points, while Mike Tuck netted 17 to assist the home side.  A combination of Zabas and Lehmon Colbert led all scoring in the game with 24 points each for the Raiders.

Cheshire Jets and Leicester Riders will duel out for the right to face the Sharks on Sunday at the Northgate Arena.

Rocks rally late to sink Pirates

Glasgow Rocks produced a late rally to see off the BBL’s bottom side Essex Pirates 70-58 on Saturday night and stay fourth in the table.

EJ Harrison hit a game-high 20 points for the Kelvin Hall outfit who trailed 32-29 at half-time to the winless hosts before a 22-10 run in the fourth quarter saved their blushes.

Guildford Heat had to hold off a storming fightback from Milton Keynes Lions before securing an 86-83 victory.

The hosts, paced by 17 from Mike Martin, looked on course for a comfortable result as they extended their 46-35 cushion at the interval to 66-51 at the end of the third.

However Milton Keynes, led by 24 from Jelani Gardner, came from as much as 15 behind to level with 60 seconds left when Anthony Haase tied the game up at 81-81 with a big three-pointer.

However Guildford had their veterans to thank for managing to cling on to victory as Julius Joseph replied to that triple by Haase with one of his own as he finished with 16 points.

Dean Williams hit two free-throws to push the Heat clear but they only breathed easy when Yorick Williams long-range shot on the buzzer, which would have sent the tie to overtime, fell short.

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