The Sheffield Sharks will spend the weekend alone atop the BBL Championship table after beating the Everton Tigers 101-95; the win, which came courtesy of a strong second half performance, puts them just ahead of the Newcastle Eagles, who don't play until Monday. Sheffield Sharks 101 (25,42,72) (Cook 29, Lyons 16, Gorman 15)
Everton Tigers 95 (23,43,59) (Babalola 23, Gumbs 23, Moore 20)
The Sheffield Sharks will spend the weekend alone atop the BBL Championship table after beating the Everton Tigers 101-95; the win, which came courtesy of a strong second half performance, puts them just ahead of the Newcastle Eagles, who don't play until Monday.
Mike Cook led all scorers with 29 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists; Atiba Lyons scored 16 points and Matt Gorman made 15 for the Sharks. The Tigers were led by 23 points each from Olu Babalola and Jerome Gumbs.
The teams could barely be separated early on, despite the Sharks taking a 12-6 lead after triples from Cook and Perry Lawson; but James Jones and Gumbs responded in kind to see the teams tied at 14 soon afterwards. They would go on to be knotted at 16, 19 and 21 until consecutive scores from Cook helped the Sharks to edge the first period by 25-23.
But Jones tied the teams once more, at 26, with a three-pointer early in the second stanza. Todd Cauthorn replied to spark a 6-0 run and not long after the Sharks had the biggest first half lead at 35-28. The teams would then trade runs up to half time as Gumbs scored 6 points in a row to bring Everton back, before a 7-2 run from the Sharks and, finally, a 7-0 finish to the period that gave the Tigers the lead at 42-43.
The hosts turned the screw in the third quarter, despite the fact that the Tigers still led 53-54 with four minutes left. But they would score just three points in the last three minutes as a triple from Lyons and two from Lawson ignited a 16-3 finish to the quarter and sent the Sharks into the decisive period with a 72-59 lead.
In a high-scoring fourth, the Sharks kept their visitors at arm's length and saw the game out by scoring 14 free-throws. The Tigers got as close as 91-85 with two minutes left after a 9-2 push, which included 6 for Babalola, but Cook kept his nerve at the charity stripe and Everton would get no closer.