Basketball: Sharks 93 Birmingham Knights 75

Mike Tuck in control for the Sharks against Birmingham Knights. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Mike Tuck in control for the Sharks against Birmingham Knights. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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The Sharks moved back to the top of the British Basketball League after showing their class against lowly Birmingham Knights.

Sheffield had been heavily defeated at Newcastle Eagles on Friday in the second leg of their BBL Cup semi-final and were expected to brush aside a Birmingham side that have yet to win a match since their introduction to the premier level of domestic basketball this season.

However, the Knights may have been unable to pick up a victory but they pushed Sheffield close in October in the West Midlands and have some players who can get hot shooting, particularly three-point range.

So the visitors 5-0 start, including a three from Martyn Gayle, may have made the Sharks realise the result was by no means a foregone conclusion.

Sheffield’s response was swift with BJ Holmes beginning a 19-0 burst that included points from Jeremie Simmons, Olu Babalola, Mike Tuck, Patrick Horstmann and a free throw by Colin Sing.

It settled any Sheffield anxieties and although Knights put together another 5-0 run the Sharks finished the first quarter with a 26-15 lead.

A three from Knights Brent Benson to open the second period caused Sharks coach Atiba Lyons to call a time-out.

His players responded with Zach Gachette’s fast break points igniting a 10-3 run.

Gachette was getting plenty of court time as Lyons used most of his players during the first half.

However, it was Canadian guard Nick Lewis who had the biggest impact during the closing stages of the second quarter. Back-to-back three pointers gave Sheffield a 45-27 advantage and he followed a delicate fadeaway shot with another three on the half time buzzer to increase Sharks lead to 57-33.

Knights gave Sheffield something to think about in the early moments of the third quarter.

Martyn Gayle drained a three-pointer and Benson made an ‘and-one’ as the visitors trimmed Sharks’ lead back to 59-41.

And two further threes from Martyn Gayle kept Sheffield just within sight at 68-51.

However, Holmes hit a three to re-start the Sharks offence and a 6-0 run to close the quarter, with a Gachette jump shop on the buzzer, handed Sheffield an 81-54 lead entering the final 10 minutes of action.

Lyons used the opportunity of a big lead to give talented youngster George Brownell extended time on court.

And he was rewarded as Brownell made a three for Sharks first points of the fourth quarter.

Lyons also handed minutes to Jake Wignell and Sam Thompson with their first action being a Wignell assist for Thompson’s debut basket.

* Sharks: Lewis 17, Tuck 16, Gachette 11, Simmons 11, Holmes 10, Horstmann 8, Sing 6, Jemison 6, Brownell, Babalola 2, Thompson 2.