Worcester Wolves overturned a ten point deficit heading into the final quarter to earn a thrilling 80-80 draw in the first leg of their quarter final against the Cheshire Jets.
The result, a rare occurrence in the world of basketball, ensures that the return leg at the Northgate Arena tomorrow night will be a winner takes all encounter.
Adam Brown led the Jets with a game high 31 points while Tommy Freeman and Sherad Prezzie-Blue both had 22 points for Worcester, having both played the whole game. The duo combined for 11 three pointers as the home side scored over half of their points from beyond the arc.
It was Freeman who set the tone for the night with an early three although the visitors responded with the next twelve with Brown contributing seven of those points. Worcester went on a 7-2 run before Brown and Colin O’Reilly both netted three pointers for a 10-22 lead. The home side finished the quarter strongly with an 9-0 burst although two points from Brown made it 24-19 to the Jets after ten minutes.
Three pointers continued to be the way for Worcester as Prezzie-Blue levelled before Freeman and Arnas Kazlauskas both found their range in a 9-2 surge to take the lead at 37-35. Cheshire regained their advantage with a 10-3 close to the half to take a 41-45 lead into the interval.
The scoring came to a halt in a third quarter containing a two minute period without a point being scored from either side. However, the lead continued to grow for the Jets and they used an 8-2 run to establish a 15 point cushion. Prezzie-Blue drained a vital three pointer to end the quarter as the gap had been reduced to ten at 55-65.
Brown and Freeman traded triples at the start of the fourth as the lead crept up to fourteen points for the visitors with less than eight minutes remaining. The game seemed to be slipping away from the hosts, cue an incredible fightback.
In a remarkable five minute spell, three consecutive triples from Prezzie-Blue sparked a pivotal 17-2 tear, also containing three’s from Freeman and Kazlauskas, giving Worcester the lead at 75-74 to set up a tense finish.
The lead changed hands three times before the teams were level at 78 after a free throw from Freeman. Prezzie-Blue put the Wolves ahead again after converting a score from his own steal before Brown tied the game with 21 seconds left and that was to be the end of a thrilling game.
Cheshire were the form team coming into the play-offs and will be confident of pulling off a shock win over Worcester in front of their home fans tomorrow on a day when all four second legs will take place.
Incidentally, the rare occurrence of a draw tonight was in fact the fourth in two seasons with two featuring Newcastle as well as the Jets draw with Plymouth at the same stage last season.