SHEFFIELD Sharks displayed the kind of fight they’ll need in the Play-offs as they signed off their regular season home fixtures with an epic comeback last night at the EIS.
For long stretches of the game the Sharks had looked over-matched and out-classed by a Plymouth Raiders team that included an excellent display by former Sheffield centre Paul Williams.
But once the Sharks decided to compete with the physical Raiders they became a different team and thoroughly deserved their comeback from a 20 point deficit.
Raiders had raced away in the first quarter as Williams dominated at both ends of the court to lead his team to an early 20-7 lead. By the end of the first quarter Sharks had repaired some of the damage but still trailed 33-20.
Sharks couldn’t get back within single digits in the second quarter and did well to trim the deficit from 46-27 to 58-43 by half time.
Raiders made it 63-43 with the first two baskets of the third period and still led by 19 (73-54) when James Jones knocked down a three.
But from then on the Sharks were sensational. Jimmy Langhurst and Olu Babalola combined for 15 points in a 16-6 run to end the quarter, which brought the score back to 81-73.
And when Ryan Patton scored back-to-back baskets to open the final period the margin was just four points.
Raiders kept Sheffield at arm’s length with good play by Jones and Anthony Rowe but once Babalola had nailed a three from the corner and Langhurst drained another to make it 91-95, Great Britain international Nate Reinking took over. First he cut the gap to 93-95 and then after a Jeremy Bell and Paul Williams basket had been split by a Babalola free throw he skipped through the Raiders defence to make two from the line and then a lay up. Canadian Mike Tuck put Sharks 100-99 up and Langhurst made two from the line to leave Raiders needing a three to tie.
Sharks stood firm to complete a morale boosting win.
* SHARKS: Langhurst 29, Reinking 23, Babalola 22, Patton 17, Tuck 7, Lyons 4.