THE Sharks spoiled BBL champions Mersey Tigers’ end of season party with an 83-73 victory last night at the EIS.
An under-strength Tigers, who were without guard Nate Reinking through illness and who also lost talisman Andrew Sullivan just before half-time with an ankle injury, could have been on the end of a much bigger margin.
But a 26-point Sheffield lead near the end of the third quarter was whittled away to 76-70 before a 7-0 Sharks run in the final 90 seconds calmed the home fans’ nerves.
Tigers took the opportunity to give extended minutes to bench players who wouldn’t normally be part of their rotation.
And that brought added energy to the visitors as they took the first quarter 15-19.
The One Health sponsored-Sharks took over in the second quarter. Steve Dagostino scored nine points and Ryan Patton seven to give Sheffield a 46-28 half time lead.
Sheffield’s defence was stifling the Mersey offence. A further blow for Tigers occurred when Great Britain captain Sullivan had to be helped from the court after a foul under the basket by Mike Tuck, and was taken to the Northern General for x-rays.
Paul Williams continued his good form with a strong third quarter. The big man poured in 10 points as Sharks moved out to 59-38.
A further 8-0 burst gave Sheffield a 26 point advantage (67-41) before Tigers reduced the gap to 67-46 heading into the final period.
The Mersey run continued in the fourth quarter. Andrew Thomson, who previously had been anonymous, scored 15 points to drag the Liverpool-based club back within six.
But once Ryan Patton made a three from the wing Sheffield relaxed and held on for the win.
Sharks scorers: Williams 21, Patton 21, Dagostino 15, Babalola 10, Tuck 8, Stout 4, Anderson 4.