Jack Wilson Sublime In Lions Win Over Sheffield
Teesside Lions 70-65 Sheffield Elite
Two iconic giants of global basketball were pitted against each other on Teesside this weekend as the legendary figure of England’s leading capped player of all time, BBL top scorer and former BBL and National Coach Pete Scantlebury bumped brains with Lions Coach Marc Steutel, the current and much celebrated Great Britain coach.
After what was a thrilling encounter and a real treat for the large attendance; Teesside remain top of the league following a vital and nail biting victory, thanks in no small part to the sublime performance of Jack Wilson.
Tenacious defence and high energy work ethic is a staple of both Coaches and it would take three minutes before either team managed to score, Lions doing so first through Thomas Wylie. Sheffield responded with Jacob Paredes hitting a 3-pointer prior to Hamza Ibrahim converting a strong finish inside.
Ross Wilson was warming nicely as the game pulsed from end to end, both sides threatening to pull away but unable to do so. The introduction of Jack Wilson for Lions delivered an And 1 play in the ninth minute and the converted free throw tied the game 14-14. Wilson then continued with some excellent basketball adding another And 1 in the final play of the quarter to take a 20-19 lead.
The second quarter continued well for the home side as Wylie hit a 3-pointer and Jack Wilson continued to torment the Sheffield players with his range of moves both on the perimeter and in the key. Despite another 3-pointer from Paredes, Lions were in control and a Jack Wilson finish developed a 4 point lead, 28-24.
However, the next four minutes would see a dramatic shift in momentum as Sheffield produced an 11-0 run instigated by Sheu Matewe and Hamza Ibrahim. Lions were now looking at a 7pt deficit and brought Jack Wilson back into the game to generate options and this he duly applied with yet another And 1 play followed by a 3-pointer from Gregor Gray, who was not his usual best from the perimeter but hit the right shot at the right time to bring Teesside back into the game, down by just 4 points at the half, 36-40.
The third quarter began in the worst way for Lions as a 7-0 run for Sheffield gave them the biggest lead of the game at 11pts. It took Teesside three minutes to find the target but when they did it was yet more magic as Jack Beresford and Ross Wilson made back-to-back And 1 plays to instigate a 17-2 run and regain the lead 53-49 with one minute remaining in the third period.
Sheffield would not submit though and a floating teardrop from Tom Morey plus a 3-pointer from Charles Okafor kept the fans from both teams on the edge of their seats.
The final quarter would challenge even the most stable of heart rates as Lions took early advantage through Alex Parr using his strength to make consecutive lay-ups followed by a Gray drive to the basket and drawing the foul for the Lions’ seventh And 1 play.
Fouls, especially And 1s were proving to be an Achilles heel for the Sheffield Elite. Okafor and Mahamud Imbrahim battled away for the visitors and an 8-0 run for them yet again regained the lead as Lions yet again struggled with a dry spell.
Jack Wilson, proved again the hero as he broke the barren spell in the fifth minute with a well-timed floater to tie the game with less than five minutes remaining.
In the seventh minute Ibrahim went to the line to convert 1/2 free throws; the lead back with Sheffield but by a single point 65-64.
At this point, the game was too close to call as both teams gave their all in an exhibition of talent, skill and determination not to lose. Unfortunately for Sheffield that free throw would be their final point of the game. Matewe’s foul on Teesside’s Ross Wilson could not stop the basket and would be the eighth And 1 play against the Elite. Wilson failed to connect the bonus free throw but with less than one minute remaining Sheffield could only foul to stop the clock and while the resulting free throw conversion rate for Lions was not great at 3/8 (24/37 for the game) it was enough to seal victory and earn a 5pt win along with a clean sweep of three wins over one of the best teams in the league.
Jack Wilson earned the MVP not only for his role in top scoring with 21pts, but also the manner in which he produced his baskets at crucial stages of the game to ensure the Lions win.
Lions: Wilson J 21, Wilson R 13, Wylie 11
Sheffield: Ibrahim H 14, Okafor 11, Paredes 11
Teesside now earn a weekend off before travelling to Sheffield Elite II the week after.
Teesside fans are already excited about the big derby game at Eston Arena with local rivals Tees Valley Mohawks which will take place on Sunday 6th February. Spectators are asked to purchase tickets early as demand is already high for this event and it is highly likely to be a capacity crowd if current restrictions are maintained.
Tickets are on sale now via www.TeessideLions.com at just £6.50 adult, £4.50 u18/OAP and £16 for a family of four.
Spectators are requested to wear face masks in and around the venue, in accordance with new Government guidance.