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Durham Wildcats got an early Christmas present with an upset 95-92 overtime win over London Lions on Sunday.

Ralph Bucci was instrumental for Wildcats, getting a triple-double of 10 points including a vital 3 pointer in overtime, 11 rebounds and 12 assists while also ending the game with 3 steals as the hosts out-scored the Londoners 11-8 in the extra period.

The opening stages had seen a close game that continued until Lions scored 11 uninterrupted points to go ahead 33-20. Brad Guinane scored 5 in a 12-6 mini-break that reduced the Lions’ lead to 53-49 midway through the quarter before a Lions’ 11-4 mini-run that ended with them up 64-53 with 1:45 to play in the third. Wildcat’s scored the final six points in the third quarter before Adrien Sturt scoring 8 points for Lions in a 10-4 fourth quarter run that put them ahead 74-63 and they kept up that pressure, further extending the lead to 82-69 with just over 5 minutes left after Sturt sank a three-point effort.

However, the Wildcats fought back scoring the next 11 points as they ended regulation with a 15-2 run, ending with Keith Page assisting on Brad Guinane’s three-pointer that tied the game at 84-84. Lions had the final possession but couldn’t score, Perry Lawson’s shot rimming out and the game going into overtime. Overtime proved to be an exciting contest and remained close with the score at 90-90 until Keith Page’s pass found Ralph Bucci, who made a massive three-point shot, putting Wildcats up 93-90 with 1:09 to play.

Orlan Jackman made that 93-92, but Samuel Johnson stole the ball off Tayo Ogedengbe on the Lions’ next possession and Wildcats were able to see the 95-92 victory out at the freethrow line.

Mike Baldarelli led Durham with 25 points.

Elsewhere Surrey Heat remain in the thick of the title race after squeezing by Sheffield Sharks 84-82.

An early 19-3 Heat run had them ahead 25-10 late in the first quarter before Mike Tuck scored 13 points in a 23-4 tear that brought Sharks back into the game and his basket at the end of the run gave them a 34-29 lead early in the second period. A Nick Lewis trey gave Sharks their largest lead of the half at 49-40 close to half-time, but Heat kept fighting back and two Sam Cricelli field goals and a pair of freethrows from Julius Joseph reduced the gap to just 65-62 at the end of the third.

Sharks pulled back ahead, going 74-66 up after a Demetrius Jemison putback with 6 minutes left but twin brothers Travis and Chavis Holmes kept the Heat in it, scoring points that had them just 80-79 down with 1:23 to play. Frank Holmes missed a pair freethrows, but then assisted on Sam Cricelli’s lead-taking basket that put Heat up 83-82. Travis Holmes pulled off a massive defensive play, stealing the ball from Micah Williams on the next possession and Chavis Holmes put Heat up 84-82 from the line, but left Sharks with 8 seconds left. Andrew Bridge put up a three-pointer to try and win the game for the Sharks, but the shot rimmed out.

Heat’s Sam Cricelli led all scorers with 23 points, making 10/15 field goals and also picked up 8 rebounds and a block.

Wolves Kai High

Kai Williams hit a game-high 19 points as Worcester Wolves held off Glasgow Rocks 83-70 on Saturday evening to move up to fifth in the BBL.

The Rocks came into the game in confident mood following a victory at London Lions the night before, but were unable to keep pace with an enthusiastic Wolves side still buoyant from their own latest successful outing, against the reigning BBL champions Newcastle Eagles.

It took over two minutes for the night’s scoring to begin, a three-pointer for Worcester guard Alex Owumi. A couple of free throws for Rocks forward Gareth Murray and a triple for player-coach Sterling Davis edged their side ahead. Recent signing Kai Williams came on court midway through the opening period and hit a three with his first touch as Wolves regained the lead at 10-7. Williams hit four more points in an initial quarter that ended 18-15 in favour of the hosts.

Williams scored 19 (WW)

Williams scored 19 (WW)

The Worcester lead widened to double digits after a series of plays involving Arnas Kazlauskas. A full court pass from the Lithuanian was caught and slammed home by Owumi, then an assist as he was falling out of bounds was converted by his countryman Arturas Masiulis. Kazlauskas followed this by draining a long-range basket to take the game to 27-17. Another triple from Williams and four points from forward Stan Ocitti helped their team progress to 36-19 with five minutes gone.

Over the next three minutes, a 10-1 burst from the Rocks briefly stemmed the tide, before further inside scoring from Masiulis and Ocitti allowed the Wolves to once more assert their dominance to go into the half-time break with a healthy 46-31 advantage.

A closely-contested third period saw players frequently at the free throw line as both teams tightened their defences. Going into the final quarter the Wolves still held a 61-50 lead, but a Glasgow fightback was on the way.  Veteran point guard EJ Harrison grabbed a score and followed this by floating up a pass for Murray to dunk home. Free throws from Rocks’ Andrew Wedemire made matters 63-57 and then a wayward pass from Worcester ball-handler Sherrad Prezzie-Blue was intercepted and converted by the visitors.

At 63-59 with six minutes remaining in the game, Prezzie-Blue made amends by finally opening his scoring account with a three-pointer. A moment later another three-point attempt bounced off the rim but the rebound was snatched by Ocitti and thrown through the hoop. The Rocks called time out after Williams made the next score, but by now their resistance was broken. The host’s lead peaked at 83-64 as the game wound down, before late points from the Rocks gave some respectability to the final outcome.

Wolves’ coach Paul James was pleased to see his team give a business-like performance, saying: “Yes they slowed us down for a few minutes, but we weathered the storm. If we play good defence and get some stops then that will create chances on offence and that’s what happened.”

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