Basketball: Leeds Force 73 Sheffield Sharks 79

BJ Holmes kept his cool from the free throw line
BJ Holmes kept his cool from the free throw line

Sheffield Sharks showed poise from the free throw line to see off Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force in Huddersfield on Friday night.

The Sharks hit nine of their 11 attempts during the final minute from the ‘charity stripe’ to hold off a combative Leeds team, which has already beaten them once this season.

Backcourt pair BJ Holmes and Mike Cook made eight of the nine they took with skipper Mike Tuck splitting a pair as the Sharks finished with a 14-6 run to overturn a 67-65 deficit.

The victory gives Sheffield ten wins and ten defeats after 20 matches as they look to finish in the top four of the British Basketball League table and claim home court advantage in the first round of the play-offs.

Sharks had led 17-15 at the end of the first quarter before extending their lead to 32-29 at half time and 56-47 heading into the final period.

However, Leeds fought hard to go in front before Sharks strong finish.

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said he was pleased with his team’s mental strength at the end: “We played well in the fourth quarter, but we had no rhythm in first three. Leeds did a good job defensively.

“We lost a close one against them in Sheffield and again they were close.

“But we knocked down free throws and that’s what wins games, close games. A good free throw shooting team will win games.

“We’d love to make the top four but at the moment we’re too inconsistent. We can’t look too far ahead right now.”

Sheffield take on league leaders and BBL Cup winners Newcastle Eagles at the EIS in Attercliffe tomorrow afternoon (3.15pm).

* Sharks scorers: Cook 23, Tuck 17, Babalola 11, Holmes 9, Barber 9, Lewis 8, Horstmann 2.