Riders held a 17-point advantage from the first leg at home last weekend, and secured a 171-144 aggregate success with a 91-81 victory in the return at the Copper Box on Sunday.

Tyler Bernardini connected on six of his eight three-point attempts to lead Leicester with 24 points while point guard Neil Watson had 14 assists in the contest.

In the BBL Championship, Cheshire Phoenix overpowered Plymouth Raiders 102-84.

Taylor King was the star of the show with 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals, but there were also double-doubles for David Aliu – 24 points, 14 rebounds – and Demond Watt – 18 points, 15 rebounds – as all three logged huge minutes.

Friday 6 March 2015
BBL Championship – Results
Leeds Force 68 – 94 Newcastle Eagles 19:30
Worcester Wolves 86 – 85 Plymouth Raiders 19:30
Saturday 7 March 2015
BBL Championship – Fixture
Bristol Flyers 70 – 79 Sheffield Sharks 19:30
Sunday 8 March 2015
BBL Championship – Result
Cheshire Phoenix 102 – 84 Plymouth Raiders 17:30
BBL Trophy Semi-Final, 2nd leg- Result
London Lions 81 – 91 Leicester Riders 16:00

P Team PL W L Pts
1 Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 26 24 2 48
2 Worcester Wolves 28 22 6 44
3 Leicester Riders 25 20 5 40
4 Cheshire Phoenix 28 20 8 40
5 Glasgow Rocks 24 13 11 26
5 London Lions 24 13 11 26
7 Bristol Flyers 30 12 18 24
8 Manchester Giants 26 11 15 22
8 Sheffield Sharks 26 11 15 22
10 Durham Wildcats 27 8 19 16
11 Plymouth University Raiders 25 7 18 14
12 Leeds Force 29 7 22 14
13 Surrey United 26 4 22 8
2014/15 League Table

Quote of the WeekBernadini

We believe not only in ourselves, but in our coaching staff and their game plans.

It’s fun to play in these kind of games, with second legs, because it comes down to execution, game plans, coaching and also players have just got to make plays.

We are all going to know each other really well so there is going to be a lot of -one-on-one stuff, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”Riders’ Guard, Tyler Bernardini

Newcastle keep rolling on and on and…

BBL Championship
Leeds Force 68 (13,28,41) (Bethune 17, McCann 13, Fetske 12)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 94 (28,50,72) (Defoe 18, Smith 15, Fletcher 13)

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle continued their charge towards the BBL Championship title with a 68-94 road win at Leeds Force, led by Darius Defoe’s double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds.

This game pitted the league’s best offence (Eagles) against its best defence (Force), and it was clear from the outset that offence would come out on top as the Eagles raced into a 10-0 lead with three-pointers from Rahmon Fletcher and Andy Thomson.

Force stemmed the flow, but the visitors scored the last six points of the first period from the free-throw line, and then added nine unanswered points early in the second, with Drew Lasker scoring five, to make it 19-41. Consecutive Charles Smith baskets put the Eagles up 28-50, and they looked set to be the first team to score 100 points against Leeds in the BBL.

While they didn’t manage that in the second half, they were never threatened. Smith hit a triple and Stuart Thomson made an ‘and-one’ play to send the lead through thirty to reach its peak at 41-72.

Leeds made a go of it in the fourth quarter, Darrell Bethune and James McCann hitting consecutive three-pointers to get the score back to 61-81, but Stuart Thomson made two baskets in a late 10-0 tear as the Eagles rounded off their eighth straight league win, and thirteenth in all competitions.

Plymouth let the Wolves out of jail

BBL Championship
Worcester Wolves 86 (19,45,68) (Thurman 22, Holmes 16, Guede 15)
Plymouth University Raiders 85 (28,54,65) (Hampton 27, Benson 17, Clarke 17)

Worcester Wolves survived late drama to see of Plymouth University Raiders 86-85, ending an inconsistent run of form as they record back-to-back wins and keep their BBL Championship title challenge alive.

But the second-placed Wolves – who have now completed a sweep of the Raiders and remain unbeaten in seven home games dating back to December – were never comfortable in this game after finding themselves in an early 19-28 hole after Joshua Wilcher’s three-pointer saw Raiders score the last seven points of the opening quarter.

Wolves hit the first eight points of the second stanza, and took the lead on Robert Thurman’s score at 34-33, only for Brent Benson to hit back with a triple and edge Raiders back in front. And they were back in the hole when, just before the half, Alex Owumi was called for a technical foul, Raiders hit three free-throws and Louis Sayers connected from long range on the ensuing possession, seeing Plymouth take a sudden 45-54 lead into the break.

The hosts wiped that lead out immediately in the second half, Owumi and Paul Guede making three-pointers in a run of nine unanswered points that levelled the game. Raiders were stubborn, Derek Elston’s triple keeping them in front, but perhaps the key run came towards the end of the third quarter when Wolves held their visitors scoreless for four and a half minutes, Chavis Holmes leading them as they scored eight points in a row to take a 68-65 lead into the decisive stanza.

And the teams could barely be separated down the stretch, after Wilcher’s triple levelled the score at 76, and they were tied at 80 inside the last two minutes. Guede looked to have made the crucial plays, as his three-pointer and a pair of free-throws sent the hosts into an 85-80 lead inside the last 30 seconds. But Jordan Clarke scored and Benson made an ‘and-one’ play with five seconds to play to make it 86-85, before Raiders forced a turnover on the inbounds play.

That gave them a shot to win the game, although Pierre Hampton missed it under pressure and Wolves hung on for an important win.

Sharks return to winning ways

BBL Championship
Bristol Flyers 70 (13,31,54) (McLaughin 17, Bland 16, Perine 14)
Sheffield Sharks 79 (22,44,65) (Cook 28, Tuck 19, Holmes 12)
Mike Cook. Photo by MPhotography

Mike Cook. Library Photo by MPhotography

Sheffield Sharks brought about even more excitement into the BBL Championship playoff race, defeating Bristol Flyers 79-70 on the road at the WISE Arena on Saturday evening to slide in a shared-eighth spot in the league table.

At 11-15, Sharks are now even with Manchester Giants, who share an identical record, with Flyers a step ahead at seventh with a 12-18 mark.

After an early back-and-forth tussle, it was the visitors from Sheffield who made a move first. Flyers had a 12-11 edge with three minutes left in the opening quarter, but Sharks finished the period on a 11-1 run to take a 22-13 lead.

Bryan Holmes had put the visitors up by as many as 16 points in the first half just before the end of the second period, but Bryquis Perine responded by knocking down a triple with the sound of the buzzer.

Flyers had cut the deficit to single digits on multiple occasions, but had their efforts rebuffed. A pair of free-throw by Greg Streete had made it 73-68 with two minutes remaining, but Mike Cook answered with five points in quick succession to pull the gap back to double figures and seal the win for Sharks.

Cook finished the game with 28 points and six assists, Mike Tuck collected 19 points, while Holmes added 12 points and seven rebounds for the winners.

Meanwhile, Doug McLaughin-Williams went 5-of-11 from beyond the arc for a total of 17 points for Flyers, with Alif Bland adding 16.

Riders overpower Lions to advance to BBL Trophy Final

BBL Trophy (Semi-final, second leg)
London Lions 81 (21, 46, 69) (Taylor 23, Cook 17, Sullivan 16)
Leicester Riders 91 (23, 48, 77) (Bernardini 24, Wright 22, Hassan 14)
Leicester Riders win 171-144 on aggregate

Leicester Riders joined Newcastle Eagles in the BBL Trophy Final after a 91-81 semi-final, second-leg success at the Copper Box confirmed their aggregate triumph against London Lions.

Rob Paternostro’s men carried a 17-point first-leg advantage into Sunday’s return and never seemed in danger of letting it slip, despite a good start from the home team.

There was little to choose between the sides at the end of the first half as Riders led by two points thanks to a strong close to the period including one of Tyler Bernardini’s six three-pointers.

The American enjoyed a superb shooting night, connecting on eight of his 11 field goal attempts on his way to a game-high 24 points.

Riders took control in the third quarter following back-to-back triples by Jamell Anderson and Bernardini, both off Neil Watson assists.

The point guard went on to total 14 helpers, and his poise on the offensive end was key to Riders’ ability to pull away as Lions began to chase the game.

Zaire Taylor had 23 points against his former club and Lovell Cook added 17, but the visitors’ depth and quality shot selection saw them reach the Glasgow showpiece, with Trayvonn Wright scoring 22 points too.

Phoenix put on a clinic in how to finish

BBL Championship
Cheshire Phoenix 102 (28, 53, 72) (King 28, Aliu 24, Watt 18)
Plymouth Raiders 84 (18, 38, 56) (Elston 23, Clarke 20, Wilcher 18)

David Aliu, Another Warrior Performance

Taylor King filled the stats sheet as Cheshire Phoenix beat Plymouth Raiders 102-84 at Northgate Arena on Sunday.

John Coffino’s side went into the game following an uncharacteristic defeat at Manchester Giants last time out.

But Phoenix responded in fine style, taking control early on to inflict a sixth straight defeat on Raiders.

King was the star of the show with 28 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and two steals, but there were also double-doubles for David Aliu – 24 points, 14 rebounds – and Demond Watt – 18 points, 15 rebounds – as all three logged huge minutes.

As a team, Phoenix shot 54 per cent from the field and out-rebounded their visitors 50-34 to establish their dominance.

The result means Cheshire improve to a 20-8 BBL Championship record, level on points with third-placed Leicester Riders, albeit having played three more games.

Raiders meanwhile slip to 7-18 and lose further ground in the race for the BBL Play-offs.

Perhaps one positive for Jay Marriott, however, was the performance of recent signing Derek Elston, who had 23 points off the bench.

Derek Elston

Derek Elston

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