Newcastle Eagles are through to this month’s BBL Trophy final in Glasgow after their 203-178 aggregate semi-final win over Plymouth Raiders at the weekend.
The Eagles recorded a season-high in points as they won 126-79 at Sport Central on Friday, behind 25 points apiece from Scott Martin and Andre Jones.
The Raiders put up a better fight in Plymouth on Sunday, but although Josh Clarke (28 points) and Pierre Hampton (26) had big games, they could not prevent the Eagles recording a 104-99 victory.
Andy Thomson had 22 points and Darius Defoe chipped in with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Eagles returned to the Trophy final for the first time since 2012.
“We set out to play consistent defence over the course of the two legs and overall we just about achieved that,” said Eagles’ player-coach Fab Flournoy.
“Plymouth are an offensively-talented team and we really wanted to jump on them on Friday night, which we accomplished.”
He added, “Our mind-set in the second leg was to try and win the game, there is no point playing it otherwise.”
In the other semi-final, Leicester Riders have the advantage after their 80-63 first leg win over London Lions on Sunday evening, behind 21 points from TrayVonn Wright.
It was the visiting Lions who enjoyed the better start as former Rider Zaire Taylor scored 14 of his team-high 19 points in the first quarter in the first quarter to give London a 23-14 advantage.
But the tie then turned in the Riders’ favour. A buzzer-beater from Pavol Losonsky sent the teams into the break tied 40-40, and when Connor Washington beat the buzzer at the end of the third, the Riders were up 60-52 and on their way to a double-digit win.
In the Championship, Greg Streete had a double-double of 26 points and 14 rebounds as Bristol Flyers beat Leeds Force, 71-47, to extend their winning streak to four games on Friday.
The same evening, Durham Wildcats dropped their fifth straight after their 99-76 defeat at home to Cheshire Phoenix.
Despite 20-point nights for Fran Urli and John Puk, the Wildcats were undone by a poor third quarter, which saw them outscored 36-10. Cheshire’s Demond Watt was the game’s biggest contributor with a double-double of 31 points and 11 rebounds.
On Sunday, Manchester Giants moved up to eighth after their 93-85 win over the Phoenix.
Demond Watt had his second double-double of the weekend, almost identical to Friday, as he posted 31 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough as the Giants rode the hot hands of Stefan Gill (23 points) and Ingus Bankevics (20) to victory.
“We showed a bit of composure and a bit of toughness down the stretch,” said Giants’ coach Jeff Jones.
“I wouldn’t say we had more quality, but we were deeper and had more people to throw at them than we have had before.”
Jones added, “We did a good job, had 24 assists as a team and had six guys in double figures, as we had enough bodies to get the rotations right.”
Slipping down to ninth are the Sheffield Sharks, who lost 87-65 at Worcester Wolves on Friday.
Wolves’ Chavis Holmes and Rob Thurman both scored 22 points to lead all scorers, but Thurman capped a big night by also hauling in an impressive 20 rebounds.