Sheffield Sharks: Final game of the season was full of drama
It came down to two points. One shot was the difference between the B. Braun Sheffield Sharks and the Newcastle Eagles after eighty minutes of basketball and sadly it brought the 2020-21 season to an end in South Yorkshire.
The Tynesiders progressed to the BBL Playoff semi-finals by 160-158 on aggregate but not before the Sharks had played their part in some of the most scintillating basketball to be played in the whole May Madness tournament.
Game one of the two-legged quarter final played out at Newcastle’s Vertu Motors Arena as the first of the ‘central’ venues to be used. The Eagles went up by as many as seventeen points at one stage but we staged a remarkable fightback with Nicholas Lewis’ three point jump shot tying the game at 73-73 midway through the final quarter. It took a pair of Darius Defoe free throws to conclude the first leg with Newcastle just ahead by 79-77.
We moved on to the University of Worcester Arena for the return leg last Thursday. This time we made a much better start and had Newcastle on the ropes at the beginning of the fourth period. Mike Tuck’s three pointer saw us in front by fourteen on the night at 56-70 and by twelve overall on aggregate. The Eagles MVP Justin Gordon and giant centre Evan Maxwell saw them edge back into the contest. Gordon’s alleyoop tied the game at 81-81 with just 0.7 seconds to go. Nicholas Lewis inbounded to Bennett Koch, whose layup sadly failed to find the target as the final buzzer went.
So, after eighty minutes of the best playoff basketball you will see, just a two point difference saw us exit. While we were heartbroken, we couldn’t have asked any more of the team. Our coach Atiba Lyons summed it up neatly: “Absolutely proud of them and a great job from our guys.”
Newcastle move on to challenge league champions Leicester in the semis, London and Plymouth battling it out for the other place. Proud of having played our part in possibly the best game of the playoffs, we are also rightly proud we completed season 2020-21. Covid presented huge challenges - to get to the end was a remarkable achievement.
Hopefully the pandemic subsides and we can resume to live crowds. Until then, we will take a break, get our arena built and assemble a great roster. See you in September!