Lions Win Ot Thriller at Sheffield But Bow Out Of Cup
Newcastle Uni (D1) 79-64 Teesside Lions (D3) National Cup Round 3
In what may be one of the most physically challenging weekends of the season Lions produced a nail-biting victory at Sheffield on Saturday evening, but despite a strong show in the first half, ran out of steam against Newcastle Uni on Sunday.
The National Cup defeat, whilst disappointing, should have been a formality for Division One outfit Newcastle against the Division three Lions, especially with a host of BBL experienced players and one of the best players in the country in Ronald Blain.
The first half was anything but as Lions enjoyed a good start and control of the game for the first 15 minutes. In the early stages of the second quarter an And-1 play from Theo Turner followed by a 3-pointer from Jack Wilson would give Lions a 10pt lead and force Coach Mark Elderkin into a Timeout.
On their return, Newcastle swung the momentum in their favour and slowly but surely picked at the Lions lead. As the half time buzzer sounded Lions found themselves 6pts down 42-36.
With the game still in the balance, it was all to play for, but the signs of fatigue on Lions were beginning to tell and turn-overs were becoming more common for the visitors.
Into the third quarter the incredible trio of Ronald Blain Martyn Gayle and Brandon Federici took over to build the biggest Newcastle lead of the game at 20pts, 63-43.
Justin Loblack kept the Lions in the game with a brace of finishes around the basket and Gregor Gray hit a 3 to show the Lions may be wounded but were still dangerous.
With the final quarter to play Coach Marc Steutel rallied the Lions for one more gallant push, an effort that would push Newcastle to within 11pts 68-57 with five minutes left. Unfortunately for the visitors, all to give was expended and Newcastle would finish victors by 15pts to progress into the next round of the National Cup.
Ronald Blain was in sublime form as he top-scored on 27pts, with a 30 efficiency. Martyn Gayle just missed a double-double as he hit 16pts & 9 rebounds for a 26 efficiency rating. Federici added 19pts to flex the trio’s muscle.
For Lions; Devitt and Gray hit 11 & 10pts respectively although there was a good spread of points scored across the team and the Lions bench outscored Newcastle 27-15 as well as second chance points 18-10. A significant contributor to the game outcome was Newcastle outscoring Lions on the fast-break points 19-5.
OVERTIME THRILLER AT SHEFFIELD
Teesside travelled to Sheffield for what could be the most intense and thrilling game of the season, despite being the first league game of the campaign.
Sheffield are coached by legendary figure Pete Scantlebury who is the leading BBL scorer, England’s all-time cap leader with 131 appearances for his country and a Head Coach for both BBL side Sheffield Sharks and England.
His status pitted against current man of the moment Great Britain and Lions Coach Marc Steutel was something to be savoured on the sideline.
Teesside began the better side with 7 foot Theo Turner dominating proceedings at both ends of the court. On defence Turner was a wall that could not be climbed as the big man blocked shots and secured rebounds. Offensively Sheffield were finding it difficult to cope with his size. If Turner wasn’t scoring, he was attracting double and triple teams which opened 3pt connections for Tommy Devitt and Gregor Gray.
At the end of the first quarter Lions were in front 11-17 but could have been further ahead if not for three missed free throws.
In the second quarter Jack Wilson subliminally responded as he converted his free throw on an And-1 play to instigate a 100% period from the line and shift Lions into another gear. Sheffield star Mahamud Ibrahim took off in this period as he hit eight of the team’s ten points. At the mid-way point Matt Hughes surrounded a Carl Alexander 3-pointer with a brace of lay-ups and Turner finished the period with a strong finish under the basket to secure a 10pt lead at half time 21-31.
Following the break Gregor Gray announced his application for early MVP consideration with 11pts in the third period alone. This along with Jack Beresford’s defence in minimising the effect of Ibrahim in the first quarter were impressive segments of the game, matched by the breaking of the shackles by Ibrahim in this quarter as he hit 13pts, including two And-1 plays.
Played in front of a partisan crowd, while the score was comfortable, the atmosphere was lifting the home side though this was quelled momentarily by a smooth cut from Jack Wilson in the ninth minute to slam home 2pts and ensure Lions maintained their 10pt cushion heading into the final quarter 40-50.
Aidan Appleyard who had been casual in the first three quarters suddenly woke up in the final period for Sheffield as he hit 11pts in seven minutes to give the home team some hope. Lions were able to dampen the flames but as the game wore on the score was becoming closer and the intense crowd were urging the home team to deliver. In the final minute Sheffield were now just 2pts down following good work from Ibrahim.
Jack Wilson drew a foul in the dying seconds of the game and went to the line under intense pressure with fans on the baseline making their presence known. Wilson would miss the first but crucially convert the second to give Lions an important 3pt cushion with just seconds left.
Sheu Matewe was then found open in the corner to hit a memorable 3-pointer that took the game into overtime and resulted in a crowd invasion from the Sheffield fans that would result in the match officials ejecting the entire crowd.
The pause in play seemed to suit Lions, despite the scenes as they gathered themselves and dominated over time with Turner yet again delivering the goods with 6pts and 5 rebounds in OT to ensure victory by 7pts.
Turner was awarded the MVP as he hit 18pts and collected 18 rebounds in his most dominant display in a Lions jersey. Gregor Gray supported well with 18pts.
Teesside are back in action this Sunday as they welcome Sheffield Elite II to the Eston Arena. Lions will be expecting another tough and fast paced challenge from the Sheffield club but will be eager to bounce back following their cup exit. Tickets are available to purchase now at www.TeessideLions.com
Teesside Lions v Sheffield Elite II
Sunday 31st October 2.30pm Tip
– Doors open 1.30pm with music, snacks and entertainment.
– Spectators must be seated 30mins prior to tip
– Adult £6.50
– U18 & OAP £4.50
– Family £16 (2 adults & 2 u18)
Tickets must be purchased in advance to allow the club to cater for the attendance in accordance with venue & government covid guidelines.