Sheffield Sharks produced an excellent second half effort to win a crucial match in their race for the play-offs.
Beginning the night level on points in the BBL Championship with Cheshire Phoenix the Sharks were eager to begin climbing the table after winning the BBL Trophy last Saturday.
However, Sheffield struggled in the early stages to find any sort of rhythm and they trailed for much of the first half.
After Colin Sing had levelled the score at 12-12 with two free throws, Phoenix finished the opening quarter on an 8-3 burst.
Sharks’ points came from an ‘and-one’ from Demtrius Jemison, who was once again showing what a shrewd signing he was by Atiba Lyons.
Jemison was first on the scoresheet in the second quarter as he started and finished a 12-6 run that gave Sharks a 27-26 lead.
However, once Mike Tuck had responded to a Jerome Gumbs basket to make it 29-28 to the home team, Cheshire seized control.
Some sloppy play by Sharks contributed as Phoenix led 35-33 at the interval.
Sheffield were much better in the third quarter. Jemison was again the first to score but the rest of the period belonged to Sharks’ young players.
Already without Micah Williams due to a foot injury the Sharks also had Andrew Bridge fighting off the effects of a stomach bug.
It meant Lyons gave significant minutes to Colin Sing, Nick Lewis and Zach Gachette. And they didn’t let him down.
Lewis twice connected from three-point range and Gachette was a menace at both ends of the court.
Two Jemison free throws gave Sharks a 55-45 lead before Phoenix rallied with a 6-2 run to close the gap heading into the final 10 minutes.
Lewis was again the danger in the fourth quarter. Two threes and a three-point play quickly sent Sharks lead into double-digits.
A late 6-0 run took it to 80-65 and there was no way back for Phoenix.
* SHARKS: Jemison 19, Tuck 19, Lewis 18, Holmes 8, Sing 6, Babalola 6, Gachette 4.
* The Sharks are back in action today (Saturday) against play-off rivals London Lions. The match tips-off at 4pm in the blue hall at the English Institute of Sport in Attercliffe.
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