Sharks turned in a barn-storming fourth quarter last night at the EIS to end their year top of the British Basketball League.
With matches tonight and tomorrow it’s likely that 2013 will finish with another team at the head of the table, but Sharks can be proud of their efforts so far this season.
Coach Atiba Lyons had challenged his players to show they are tough enough to contend for silverware and last night against a physically intimidating London team they delivered.
At the heart of everything was skipper Mike Tuck and point guard BJ Holmes.
The pair showed their quality late in the match with a play that gave Sheffield a 76-68 lead to seal the victory.
Holmes shook off the attentions of three Lions defenders to make a precision pass to Tuck who made the difficult finish look simple.
Lyons said: “It was a good play. It was ‘headsy’ from BJ. And then Tuck made a tough finish. It looks easy when it goes in but that’s tough.”
The teams had entered the fourth quarter tied at 51-51 and were still level at 58-58 before Sharks’ Demetrius Jemison had all the points in a 6-0 burst.
A 4-0 Lions run cut a 10 point deficit back to six at 74-68 before the Holmes to Tuck play sparked a 7-2 finish to the match for Sharks.
The victory was what Sheffield deserved after they withstood a battering from a strong London team. Trailing 15-9 in the first quarter Sharks rattled off the next six points to level the match at 15-15 after ten minutes.
And Lyons’ side were again behind in the second period before a 10-0 burst put them 32-28 on top.
A two by the impressive Jeremie Simmons edged Sharks 38-35 in front at half time but the third quarter saw the lead exchange hands several times before finishing 51-51.
Lyons was pleased with his team: “I thought the effort was much better. We’re the type of team that plays inconsistent but tonight we were better.
“Tonight we did a good job of sticking with the plan.”
* Sharks: Tuck 19, Jemison 18, Simmons 17, Holmes 11, Lewis 6, Babalola 5, Sing 2, Gachette 2, Horstmann 1.