Newcastle Eagles held off Solent Kestrels 96-94 to lift the BBL Trophy.

It required overtime and vast energy expended before the Tyneside outfit finally saw off their lower league rivals who had a shot to steal victory but saw Trayvonn Wright’s effort with less than two seconds left fall short.

Effectively down to just six players when a trio of foreign recruits demanded to fly home on the eve of the game and Kai Williams was unavailable, Newcastle were carried by 29 points from their American point guard Rahmon Fletcher and 21 points and seven rebounds from CJ Gettys, who was named the final’s Most Valuable Player.

“It means everything,” said Macleod. “This has been a really tough season. You could make some kind of Netflix show about this year.

“I’m so happy for the players, for the work they’ve put in, and for the fans and the club. We were expected to beat Dunfermline but we had to slog past Cheshire and Sheffield. But I thought that adversity would help us in the final. And it did.”

Defoe scored 12 third quarter points as Newcastle took the period 31-20 and led 77-65 heading into the final ten minutes.

But Kestrels came storming back in the fourth, taking the lead at 83-82 after scoring eight in a row, with Ian Smith hitting the last four of those, before tying the game with a Wright dunk with 4.5 seconds remaining.

There was little to separate the teams in the extra period, as the lead changed hands on six occasions, until the decisive moment came inside the final minute when Drew Lasker grabbed an offensive rebound and put back to give Newcastle a 95-94 edge with 57 seconds to play.

Kestrels had a shot to win it, but Wright left his jumper two short and Defoe grabbed the rebound before icing the game at the line.

Solent, the first-ever NBL team to reach a major final, could not quite complete their fairytale run with a trophy despite leading three times in the extra period and a 26 points contribution from Elliot Sentence.

“I’m disappointed it finished that way,” Kestrels coach Matt Guymon said. “But I’m unbelievably proud of my team.

Game Stats

Photos: MAP

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