Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basketball: Eagles Rise to League Summit; Great Run of Results Continues in Sheffield Scrap

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Basketball: Eagles Rise to League Summit; Great Run of Results Continues in Sheffield Scrap

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF KING

Sheffield Sharks 61

Newcastle Eagles 72

THE Newcastle Eagles are perched proudly at the top of the BBL after a great win last night in Sheffield, writes JEFF KING.

Going into it both teams had identical records so something had to give. The win means Newcastle have won five tough games in nine days, four of them on the road.

But this was a scrappy affair with both teams having off nights of fensively as defence ruled the day. In the end it was Eagles' superior composure that sealed the win.

In the middle quarters, the Eagles' defence restricted Sharks to just 21 points in 20 minutes. Not for the first time - and probably not the last - Richard Midgley led the way with 25 points.

That came courtesy of a much-improved second half showing after the Great Britain star had looked strangely out of sorts in the first. Indeed it was coach Fab Flournoy's tenacity and leadership, coupled with big second quarters from Lynard Stewart and Jeremy Hyatt, that led the way.

After a tight first quarter that the Sharks sneaked 19-18, the Eagles stepped up in the second. Runs of 6-0 and 7-2 opened up a 39-32 lead at the half.

The third quarter was a strange affair. Somehow the Sharks kept the Eagles scoreless for over five minutes as they narrowed the gap. Two Midgley free-throws ended Newcastle's barren run, but it was a one-point lead only until Newcastle produced a 10-0 run to end the quarter 11 in front.

In the final period, the Sharks pulled to within five, but a Midgeley three-point effort pushed the Eagles beyond the home side's reach. The Sharks got ragged and the visitors last run of 8-2 gave them an 11 point win.

With champions Guildford Heat slipping to a shock 91-80 defeat at Everton and ex-Eagles star TJ Walker's Cheshire Jets beating Milton Keynes Lions it was an excellent night for Newcastle.

It also sets up Walker's emotional return to Tyneside next Friday very nicely. Then Tigers scored their first ever BBL win. They were 23-17 up at the end of the first ten minutes and maintained that at 45-38 by the half. …

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