Basketball: Cheshire Phoenix 66 Sharks 72

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The Sharks were forced to dig deep last night in Chester to hold off the Cheshire Phoenix and move joint top of the BBL Championship.

After moving into the quarter-finals of the BBL Cup on Friday night with victory against London Lions it was back to league action for the Sharks at one of the toughest away venues.

And it required a big fourth quarter effort to overcome Phoenix, who had recovered from a 13 point deficit late in the third period. Sharks seized control with a 9-2 burst midway through the final stanza to go 69-62 up and ease home from there.

Sharks started slowly to trail 8-2 but eight points from American point guard Holmes gave Sharks an 18-17 lead at the end of the first quarter. Cheshire enjoyed the better of the early stages of the second period, but once the score was tied at 23-23, Sharks dominated the rest of the half.

An Olu Babalola three began a 13-6 Sharks run up to the interval, which gave Sheffield a 36-29 lead.

Sharks again were making it difficult for an opponent to get easy scores, which has been a feature of their play this season.

It seemed as though the Sharks were coasting when a free throw from Holmes made it 53-40 but they wouldn’t score again in the third quarter as Phoenix hit three threes - one from Reggie Middleton and two from Dominique Coleman - in a 15-0 run to take a 55-53 advantage into the final period.

*Sharks: Tuck 19, Holmes 17, Babalola 9, Simmons 6, Gachette 6, Lewis 6, Horstmann 4.