|Teesside Lions Men
TEESSIDE SEE OFF SUNDERLAND TO FINISH UNDEFEATED
Teesside Lions Men
Saturday 25th March|
Teesside Lions beat Sunderland 70-98 in their final league game of the season to finish undefeated for the entire season. It is a tremendous achievement ahead of the playoffs which will begin this Sunday at Eston Arena.
The Sunderland victory was witnessed by 70 Teesside fans who made the short journey up the A19 to cheer the visitors all the way in a memorable and enjoyable season.
The start of the game was explosive for Lions, and in particular Eddie Matthew who hit the first 7pts in a 9-0 run. Tyrese Nfon broke the spell for Sunderland with a strong right-handed drive to the basket, but Matthew would hit another three 3’s to dominate the first quarter with 16pts.
The second quarter was much better from Sunderland as Ali N’Dayitabi hit 9pts towards his team’s 24pts total and allowed the hosts to take this period by 1pt 24-23. For Teesside it was another sticky patch as they were outscored 9-5 in the last two and half minutes of the first half.
Teesside still commanded a lead 35-47 but what felt like it should be 30pts, especially with the vibrance of Matthew, Aaren Smith & Luke Mitchell, it was reading just 12 and the visitors needed to resurrect a game that was becoming a little flat.
In the second minute of the second half Sunderland had managed to convert two free throws via Ajayi to bring the score to within 10pts, 37-47. It was looking like Sunderland were preparing to upset the unbeaten ambitions of Teesside, and Teesside were seemingly obliging with some poor defence and fragmented offence.
In the third minute however, Teesside suddenly clicked and produced a phenomenal display in the offensive end of the court to outscore Sunderland 36-16. All players were proving effective with multiple steals and excellent transition play. Luke Mitchell and Eddie Matthew were persistent thorns in the side of Sunderland as they showed impressive hustle on defence and combined for 14pts on offence. Matt Hughes chipped in with 6pts but the star of the period was Aaren Smith who collected 11pts including an And 1 reverse dunk at the end of the period to fire up the Teesside fans.
In the fourth quarter Teesside stretched their lead to 34pts and elected to run the bench. Sunderland would go on a 13-3 run, but out of this gloomy spell came a superb performance from 16 year old Charlie McKenna who hit two long range shots and a lovely finish at the basket for a season high 7pts.
The 28pt win over Sunderland means Teesside enter the playoffs as second in seedings behind fellow unbeaten Milton Keynes Breakers, due to the Breakers having a superior points difference.
Teesside therefore will welcome Liverpool, who are 15th seed, this Sunday at Eston Arena in the first round of the playoffs. The game will tip at 2.30pm and tickets are available at TeessideLions.com with 600 tickets already sold.
The objective is to win the next three games to make it to the Playoff Final in Manchester, and club owner James Thomson is calling on as much support as possible from the area.
“We are in a good position and welcome Liverpool on Sunday with a quiet confidence in our ability and desire to progress. Liverpool finished third in their league this season so on paper we are the favourites, but we have to do our job and ensure we get into the quarter finals. Our advantage will be our incredible fans once again and I am hoping that Teesside will show up in force to help us progress.” Said James.
The game MVP was awarded to Aaren Smith who has now picked up the award an incredible three games in a row. He only just edged another super performance from Eddie Matthew who has averaged 23 points per game in March. Luke Mitchell also contributed another double-double with 17pts & 11 assists.
Nfon 20, Ajayi 15, Ndayitabi 12
Matthew 25, Smith 19, Hughes 15