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TEESSIDE MAKE IT TWO OVER MOHAWKS
Tees Valley MohawksV
Teesside Lions Men
Sunday 19th February|
TV Mohawks 70-91 Teesside Lions
Teesside Lions picked up an important win away to local rivals TV Mohawks at Middlesbrough College to edge closer to the league title and extend their unbeaten run.
Teesside are among four teams out of more than 100 in the British basketball structure that remain unbeaten. Fellow Division 3 outfit Milton Keynes Breakers along with Hemel Storm in Division One, and Birmingham Rockets in Division Two are the other three teams that hold onto the elite title of unbeaten as we approach the crunch point of the season with a handful of games remaining prior to the playoffs.
The win over Mohawks gives Lions the local edge with two wins following victory at Eston Arena last week and the teams will meet for a third time on 5th March back at Eston Arena for what is expected to be another great event in front of a large attendance.
Teesside opened the scoring in emphatic fashion with great ball movement and a 3-pointer from Luke Mitchell. Eddie Matthew added two smooth finishes off the dribble and Mitchell hit another 3-pointer. American wing Aaren Smith finished the breakaway dunk in the sixth minute to assert dominance over the hosts that wouldn’t be challenged until the third quarter.
Ryan Harris hit two 3’s midway through the first period with Mohawks American guard Juvante Hayes finishing some strong drives but the Lions were playing some of their best basketball of the season and their shooting percentage was very impressive, especially in the first half.
At half time the Lions lead was a comfortable 18pts, 36-54.
The third quarter was a reality check for Teesside as the Mohawks delivered a 15-0 run to come within 3pts of the visitors and provide hope of a come-back. Unfortunately, this hope was extinguished following a Lions Time-Out and positive response with Smith and Lions court general Luke Mitchell turning the game. Mitchell was outstanding yet again with his vision for a pass. The Lions talisman amassed a brow-raising 17 assists.
Smith was the beneficiary of many of these assists and his conversion rate around the basket was an impressive 80%.
Dan Kelsey was instrumental in this period for Mohawks adding 7pts. The strong finish to the quarter from Lions however delivered a 3-17 run meaning the impressive Mohawks period was neutralised and Teesside were still in the lead by 17pts.
The final quarter was another period of control for Lions as they extended their lead to 30pts and were able to run the bench and give time to their young players Charlie Mckenna and Riley Anderson. Mohawks did the same with Alfie Merrifield doing well and Lewis Butler hitting 8pts in 11minutes.
The game finished with Teesside taking a 21pt victory and boasting four players in double figures scoring, proving the balance and efficiency within the squad.
Most impressive were the 33 assists delivered by Lions. For contrast Mohawks had 17.
In terms of the MVP, it would take something very special to prise the award from Aaren Smith who finished the game joint top scorer with 23pts, but also adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists & 2 blocks. His energy and conversion rate were very impressive but that something special was a phenomenal performance from Luke Mitchell.
Mitchell had 15pts, 17 assists, 6 rebounds & 2 steals for a 29 efficiency rating in his best performance of the season so far.
Eddie Matthew was also unfortunate to miss out with a stellar performance including 22pts with 80% from 2pt range. He also added 4 assists & 2 steals whilst only committing 1 turnover.
Teesside will now travel to Calderdale Explorers on Saturday to face a team revived by new star Dan Quirion. Teesside are hoping to maintain their unbeaten record and take a 100% win record into the playoffs, to achieve a preferred seeding and home court advantage as well as the all important promotion criteria of top four win percentage across 50+ teams in division three. Currently they are joint top with Milton Keynes, but nothing is guaranteed and everything will have to be earned.
Game MVP: Luke Mitchell
Top Scorers -
Mohawks: Hayes 21, Butler L 8, Kelsey 7
Lions: Smith 23, Matthew 22, Hughes 15, Mitchell 15, Hylands 7
League Table: https://www.basketballengland.co.uk/leagues/nbl/standings/