Basketball: Sharks 93 Birmingham Knights 63

Sharks George Brownell in action against Birmingham Knights. Pic: MPhotography.
Sharks George Brownell in action against Birmingham Knights. Pic: MPhotography.
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Sharks made light work of Birmingham Knights on Friday night at the EIS to keep their title hopes very much alive.

After defeat in midweek against Worcester Wolves to be knocked out of the BBL Trophy it was important that Sheffield responded.

And they turned in an excellent performance that made full use of their promising young players who are being developed through the club’s youth structure.

Zach Gachette, who will be part of the Sheffield Hallam University team that takes on Leeds Met in the last eight of the BUCS tournament in London, had his best game of the season with 19 points.

George Brownell, another Hallam student, weighed in with 16 and there were also points for Sharks junior players Marko Backovic and Jake Wignell.

Sharks only deficit was at 3-2 when Knights Martyn Gayle hit his team’s first three point shot of the match.

Sheffield point guard BJ Holmes made his first four shots from three point range to give Sharks a 22-12 advantage.

After taking a 26-16 lead into the second quarter Sharks coach Atiba Lyons was able to experiment with a number of different combinations.

With maybe future games in mind a particularly interesting one was a ‘big’ line up of Patrick Horstmann, Mike Tuck, Olu Babalola, Colin Sing and Gachette.

No matter who Lyons put him with Gachette couldn’t stop scoring as he hit 12 points in the first half.

Another who enjoyed an extended run out in the opening two quarters was young guard Brownell.

Brownell made two threes in his ten points as Sheffield led 50-26 at half time. Sheffield, who had Nick Lewis missing with a hip injury, pulled further away in the third quarter to lead 75-40 heading into the last ten minutes.

Scores from Backovic and Wignell sent the crowd home happy and Lyons pleased with his team’s development.

He said: “Hopefully that will build confidence for them in the future. They work hard in training and they’re coming along.

“A lot of time in this country you don’t realise guys are juniors at 16 or 17 and they’re playing against guys in their 30s.

“It’s a big jump so hopefully we have the set up with the university where we can progress these guys in the right way and not just make the jump from under 18s to men’s and they end up falling by the wayside.”

* Sharks scorers: Horstmann 20, Gachette 19, Brownell 16, Holmes 15, Jemison 8, Babalola 5, Sing 4, Wignell 2, Backovic 2, Tuck 2.