Basketball: Newcastle Eagles 82 Sharks 78

Sharks BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.
Sharks BJ Holmes. Pic: Dean Woolley.
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The Sharks BBL Championship title hopes are all but over after defeat last night at Newcastle Eagles.

With just two matches to play against the league’s bottom two clubs it now seems certain that the Eagles will wrap up the league.

A victory for Sheffield in the north-east was necessary to not only eat into Newcastle’s eight point gap at the top of the table but also give them the season head-to-head, which would come into play in the event of both sides finishing level on points.

However, despite a battling performance the Sharks came up just short.

Charles Smith gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead and the Sharks never led until BJ Holmes’ two gave them a 73-72 advantage with just under three minutes to play.

Falling behind seemed to inspire the home side and they scored the next seven points to take control again.

Sharks never-say-die spirit has been their calling card this season, though, and they reduced the arrears to 80-78 on a Holmes three with 15 seconds to play but free throws by the impressive Malik Cooke sealed the match, and in all likelihood, the Championship trophy for the Eagles.

Earlier Sharks had fallen behind 23-12 before ending the first quarter trailing 27-18. It was much better in the second period as a 12 point deficit was erased by half time thanks to a 9-0 run just before the interval.

Eagles pushed ahead 61-57 with ten minutes to play and despite Sharks fighting back they couldn’t hold their slender lead.

Tomorrow Sharks welcome fourth placed Leicester Riders to the EIS Blue Hall (4pm).