Stirring fight-back fails to save Sheffield Sharks from Trophy defeat to Plymouth

A stirring final quarter fightback wasn’t enough for the B Braun Sheffield Sharks to secure their passage to the quarter-finals of the BBL Trophy.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 2:36 pm
Jordan Ratinho in action for the Sharks. Picture: Adam Bates

Despite being 16 points adrift going into the final stanza, the Sharks out-scored Plymouth Raiders by 21-11 but finished agonisingly short with the score at 63-69.

The Sharks must now focus on improving their 4-4 BBL Championship record with the league and the playoffs still to play for.

The Sharks went with a different approach in the opening quarter giving first BBL starts to guards Johde Campbell and Jordan Ratinho.

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They started at good tempo, taking a 9-6 lead on Campbell’s assist to Kipper Nichols for a dunk. Plymouth fought back strongly with Great Britain forward Ashley Hamilton throwing one down at 11-14 but there was little to choose between the teams as Ratinho’s floater ended the quarter with Plymouth up by 18-19.

Raiders’ Will Neighbour, quiet during the two sides previous encounter three weeks ago, lit up the second period, forcing the Sharks to call for time at 22-25.

He repeated the feat as the quarter wore on; a mid-ranger followed by a triple seeing the Sharks talk it over once more at 26-34. Three successes from the line sealed a 10-18 quarter in favour of Plymouth, happy that they had restricted the scoreline to 28-37 at half time.

Bennett Koch, limited to just over a minute of play in the first half, picked up his third foul early in the third quarter with Plymouth’s Chris Porter-Bunton and Neighbour capping a 2-11 run for the Devonians with the score at 35-54.

The Sharks introduced veterans Rob Marsden and Mike Tuck to good effect late in the period – Tuck’s ‘and one’ play giving some momentum to the Sharks but still leaving Atiba Lyons’ men a sixteen point deficit to claw back at 42-58.

The mood palpably changed as Sheffield upped the intensity at both ends of the floor. Nicholas Lewis’ eurostep to the hoop sealed a 11-0 run either side of the quarters as the Sharks drew to within eight at 50-58. A pair of Ratinho three pointers, both out of the corner, saw that drop to four at 59-63 and a big two from Sharks talisman Jeremy Hemsley shaved a further point off at 63-66.

The Sharks, who had taken advantage of a big Plymouth spell in the penalty, saw Lewis foul out with a minute remaining and trips to the line for Raiders’ Rickey McGill saw them eke out a 63-69 success.

Jordan Ratinho (13) and Jeremy Hemsley (17) led the scoring for the Sharks, who return to BBL Championship action on Sunday when Worcester Wolves are the visitors to Ponds Forge.