Cheshire Jets snapped a four game losing streak in satisfying fashion as they beat their North West rivals the Mersey Tigers 72-83 in the race for BBL Championship Playoff spots.
It is only their second road win of the season in the league, although they did previously win at the Tigers in the BBL Trophy in October. The Tigers remain winless at home since the start of December, when they beat the Jets in overtime.
In a game that was tight throughout, the Jets were led by 23 points and 6 assists from Adam Brown while Matt Schneck had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Myles Hesson led the resistance, with a massive 18 points and 18 rebounds.
Immediately the visiting Jets used a 6-0 burst to race into a 4-10 lead with Schneck leading the way inside as they held their hosts scoreless for almost three minutes. But the Tigers soon got going and their response came in the form of an 8-1 run that gave them a 12-11 lead behind 5 points from Hesson and a Matt Otten triple. There were a couple of lead changes before the teams played their way to a tie at 19 at the end of the first quarter, Colin O’Reilly scoring for the Jets on the buzzer.
The Jets regained the ascendancy in the second quarter, starting that period in the same fashion as the previous one with a 6-0 tear to lead 23-27 with O’Reilly and Keith Page sinking three-pointers. But the Tigers tied the game at 27 before going on to lead again after scoring 6 in a row themselves to make the score 33-29 on a Marlin Capers basket. But in a quarter during which the teams traded runs, it was the Jets who took charge as they didn’t allow the Tigers to score for two minutes while netting 8 points to take a 35-38 edge into the second half.
And the Jets maintained their lead in the third period, flirting with a double-digit margin as they led by nine points: back-to-back baskets from Schneck made the score 47-56 and they still led by nine until Antonio Bustamante hit a three-pointer on the buzzer to set up an exciting fourth quarter.
That seemed to buoy the Tigers, as they opened the decisive period with an 11-5 run to tie the game at 63 on Otten’s three-pointer. But the Jets steadied themselves and regained their lead on Adam Brown’s triple, and it was he who proved to be their match-winner soon after. Leading by just three points heading into the final minute, Brown made an old-fashioned three-point play and then held his nerve for 2/2 at the free-throw line to see his team up 67-76 with 45 seconds to play. Keith Page took over to see the game out, making 7/8 free-throws down the stretch to keep the Tigers at arm’s length.