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Worcester Wolves reach first major BBL final
WORCESTER Wolves danced for joy after surviving another Sheffield Sharks fightback to make history by reaching the British Basketball League Trophy final.
Paul James’ side triumphed 84-70 at the University Arena in tonight’s semi-final second leg and 146-130 on aggregate to book their place at Glasgow’s Commonwealth Arena on Sunday, March 30.
It sparked scenes of jubilation as players and coaches celebrated their first major BBL final.
Zaire Taylor was the star of the show with 30 points, including five three-pointers, followed by Alex Owumi with 18 and Will Creekmore with 16, while Stefan Djukic came up with 11 rebounds.
But the hosts were given far from an easy ride as Sheffield, who hit back from 18 points adrift in the first leg, drew level on the night at 66-66 despite trailing by 20 during the first-half.
It made for a nervy finale but Wolves held out and will now face either Glasgow Rocks or Cheshire Phoenix in the final.
Wolves, with Kalil Irving playing 73 seconds following a shoulder injury, led 26-16 after the first quarter and held a 20-point advantage during the second period before going in 46-34 up at half-time.
But defending champions Sheffield won the third quarter by six points and only trailed 62-56 heading into the final period.
Earlier, the Sharks briefly led 5-4 and were level at 10-10 but could not keep pace with Wolves.
Taylor scored 12 points during the opening period, backed up by seven from Creekmore and five from Owumi.
BJ Holmes, Sheffield’s top scorer with 18, and Patrick Horstmann did their best to keep Sharks in touch with three-point efforts but Worcester were 31-16 clear in the early stages of the second quarter.
Wolves held a nine-point cushion midway through the period before quick twos from Owumi and Jamal Williams made it 37-24.
Four more points from Owumi increased the lead to 41-24 and, at 46-26, Sharks looked finished. But they reduced the arrears to 12 at the interval with five from Holmes.
Olu Babalola and Mike Tuck brought the visitors to just eight points behind at the start of the second-half and, although Wolves stretched out to 51-38, Sheffield were not done.
They kept chipping away and a three-pointer from Nick Lewis helped cut the lead to just six at the end of the third quarter.
Things got increasingly frantic at the start of the decisive stanza and it was not long before Sharks were back within one.
Wolves were racking up the foul count and, although Sheffield were sloppy from the free-throw line, they tied the contest.
But Worcester opened up another slender advantage and this time held on.
Taylor’s three made it 75-68, which got the crowd on their feet, before six free throws from Worcester’s talisman eased the nerves for victory.