Newcastle Eagles gained the advantage in the first leg of the BBL Trophy Semi Final, over arch rivals Everton Tigers, as they just about held on to an 89-85 win, thanks to a tremendous fourth quarter. Everton had led by nine points midway through the final period but a 24-11 burst from the Eagles to finish the game, capped off by Charles Smith (pictured) hitting a three pointer, ensured that the Eagles go into the second leg next Friday in Merseyside with a slight advantage.
Everton had dominated the early exchanges, as Trey Moore torched his old club from behind the three point line to establish an 11-15 lead. However, the Eagles then went on a 16-3 run to go 27-18 up after the first period, quickly extending this to 31-18, but a 9-3 burst from the Tigers to close the first half saw them cut Newcastle's lead to 40-37 at the half.
After a fairly even third quarter, Moore put the Tigers ahead 55-56, and Chris Haslam's basket right before the penultimate period closure saw the scoreboard read 62-64. Dominant play from the game's top scorer, former Eagle Olu Babalola (31 points) in the fourth quarter saw the Tigers establish a 65-74 lead, but the Eagles clawed their way back into the game, with Darius Defoe's dunk putting them back in the lead at 85-83. Despite a Moore lay up late on in the fourth as Everton threatened to trail by just one point, Smith's three pointer for the home side that secured the win could prove to be vital in their bid to reach the BBL Trophy Final and defend their crown.
The Tigers also experienced defeat at the hands of Glasgow Rocks 71-90, on Friday evening. The Rocks then went on to convincingly beat Marshall MK Lions 108-78, whilst Cheshire Jets had no trouble dealing with PAWS London Capital, beating them 104-76, and Airwaves Plymouth Raiders made it two wins from two games, as they continued their fine form from their 91-95 defeat of Capital, to beat Guildford Heat 96-95 at Guildford Spectrum on Sunday. As well as the Capital-Raiders encounter, Saturday also saw Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders move up to fourth place with an 82-76 victory over the Jets, behind 19 points and 10 rebounds from big man Jason Johnson. Worthing picked up a huge 86-84 win over fellow Playoff chasers, Worcester Wolves, and Essex Pirates' dream of causing the upset of the season with a win over Newcastle Eagles, looked promising early on, but the Eagles eventually triumphed 104-117.
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