Basketball: Sharks 71 Leicester Riders 60

Sharks guard BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.

Sharks guard BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.

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The Sharks showed they’re up for a play-off fight after beating rivals Leicester Riders on Sunday afternoon at the English Institute of Sport.

Played in the EIS’ Blue Hall, which is a happy hunting ground for Sheffield, Atiba Lyons side held their nerve last in the fourth quarter as the Riders lost their discipline to concede technical fouls.

Sharks point guard BJ Holmes took full advantage as he scored the final nine points of the match - seven of which were from the free throw line.

After losing to Newcastle Eagles on Friday night in the north-east, which all but handed the title to their victors, Sharks were keen to finish as high up the BBL Championship as possible for the play-offs.

The signs were good from the start as an 18-15 first quarter lead was extended to 30-19 early in the second period.

Guard Jeremie Simmons made a welcome return from a long-term wrist injury and fellow American Demetrius Jemison was in good form.

However, after Holmes had made it 32-22, Leicester finished the first half on a 10-2 run to reduce the deficit.

Sharks fell behind briefly to start the third quarter but rallied behind strong play from German forward Patrick Horstmann.

And by the start of the fourth quarter they held a 58-52 advantage.

Nick Lewis and Jemison made it 62-54 but Riders fought back with six straight points to cut the gap to two.

Holmes, as he so often does, took control with an ‘and-one’ play and then taunted Anthony Downing into fouling him as he shot for a three to seal the victory.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said it was an important result: “We showed up and played well tonight. We felt like we owed them one from last time out (a double overtime defeat) - the focus was there and the energy.

“It was vital (to win). We’ll likely be facing one of these teams again so it’s good to get a victory.

“We have to win the rest of our games now if we’re going to stand a chance (of second place). We have Worcester (Wolves) coming up eventually but we can’t afford any slip ups before then.”

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