A Stout show in vital win for Sharks

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Plymouth Raiders 78

Sheffield Sharks 95

Sheffield Sharks pulled off a potentially season defining win at Plymouth Raiders on Saturday night.

Faced with the prospect of falling three defeats behind league leaders Newcastle Eagles and with a trip to the north-east next Friday, Sharks completed a clean-sweep of victories against the Raiders with an excellent team performance.

The scoreline may have looked relatively comfortable but the One Health sponsored-Sharks were made to work hard by Plymouth until Atiba Lyons team pulled away during the fourth quarter thanks to the guard pairing of Marcus Stout and Steve Dagostino.

Stout, who led all scorers with 31 points, said it was a ‘must-win’ match for the Sharks: “We have a lot of road games coming up so we knew we couldn’t afford to lose this one. It was a great feeling getting the win. When we got up by ten we looked at each other and said we’re not letting this one go.

“I wanted to come out and be aggressive. I’ve sat back a bit the last two games so I needed to be aggressive and take my shots.”

Looking to end a run of eight consecutive defeats against the Sharks in all competitions the Raiders were quick to open up an early 8-3 lead. Sheffield responded and drew level at 15-15 on a Dagostino bucket before taking the lead as the point-guard completed the three-point-play.

Raiders had the last word of the first quarter though with a Jerome Gumbs two making it 23-22 after ten minutes.

An 11-3 start to the second quarter by Sheffield made it 26-33 on Mike Tuck’s three. But Plymouth were able to work their way back as Chez Marks’ long range bomb put the home team on top again at 36-35.

Sharks were to go in at half time in front with five points from Dagostino in a 7-0 burst to make it 42-47.

After Lehmon Colbert levelled the score at 50-50 with a three for Raiders it was all Sharks. From 55-56 up Sharks went on a 13-3 run with the Dagostino and Stout combination proving particularly fruitful.

A three by Evaldas Zabas with four seconds of the third quarter remaining kept the home team in touch at 61-69.

Mike Tuck’s three gave Sharks their double-digit lead back to open the final period. And when Stout connected too from long range the margin was 63-77.

Sheffield never looked in danger again as twice the lead reached 18 points, first on an Olu Babalola two and finally when Dagostino sank two free throws in the last minute.

Sharks scorers: Stout 31, Dagostino 27, Tuck 14, Babalola 11, Williams 9, Patton 3.