HE was gasping for air roughly seven minutes into the match but the return of Ryan Patton to Sheffield Sharks has breathed new life into the club.
Patton was released at the end of last season but a combination of injury, poor form and off the court issues has seen the veteran point guard return to the Sharks for the remainder of the season.
And, despite obviously needing more matches for fitness, what a return it was.
With his first shot the American drained a trademark three-point shot that inspired Sharks to a quick 11-3 lead.
Patton and fellow Ohioian Jimmy Langhurst immediately struck up an understanding in the Sharks backcourt, which allowed the excellent pairing of Olu Babalola and Mike Tuck to dominate the forward positions.
Playing with just a six man rotation due to player-coach Atiba Lyons’s ongoing registration issue with the BBL, the Sharks used promising youngsters Zach Gachette and Colin Sing as disrupting influencers to the Heat.
Both contributed more than a nuisance value with Sing having probably his most mature display since his move to Sheffield from Essex Pirates.
The Sharks early burst helped the home team to a 23-12 first quarter lead.
Heat, an experienced, hard-nosed team, remained patient and despite falling 41-26 down reeled off an 11-0 run to trail by just four (41-37) at half time.
Sheffield began the third quarter with a 6-0 run to regain control and even though Heat reduced the arrears to 56-52 they still entered the final period with a 61-54 advantage.
Langhurst showed real poise in the final quarter to score six points as Sharks again made it a double-digit lead at 75-65.
Heat pulled it back to 81-77 on a 10-4 run but once Langhurst and Sing’s free throws had sandwiched a Babalola two the game was beyond the visitors.
n SHARKS: Langhurst 26, Tuck 21, Patton 14, Babalola 14, Gachette 6, Sing 6.