An understrength Worcester Wolves tasted defeat for the first time in the National Basketball League on Saturday, at the hands of local rivals Stourport Spartans.

Without three of their usual starting five players, Wolves struggled for cohesion, allowing Stourport to celebrate a 61-52 upset victory in front of a packed University of Worcester Arena.

With three minutes left in the first quarter Drew Clark sank a triple to nudge Worcester in front for the first time at 10-9 before Spartans’ Sam Coles replied in kind to reverse the lead.

A 13-13 tie entering the second period was broken by a David Lauzzana floater. However, rugged Stourport defence gave no opportunity for the hosts to extend their advantage.

Harried into a series of turnovers, Wolves could do little to hold back their near-neighbours from establishing 33-25 half-time control.

Ian Vivero-Rodriguez was the sole bright spot for Worcester after the break, firing in ten of his side’s dozen third quarter points but then having to cool down on the bench after picking up his third foul of the evening.

By the time Vivero-Rodriguez signalled his return to the fray with a three-pointer Spartans were still 50-44 to the good with six minutes to go.

Wolves repeatedly found their path to the basket blocked by a wall of Stourport defenders. Even when offensive rebounds were secured, subsequent put-back chances were often spurned, preventing a comeback.

Vivero-Rodriguez’ 23 points dominated the scoring. Matei Balteanu was the only other home player to reach double-figures, contributing 10 points.

Wolves will be at the University of Worcester Arena again next Saturday 19 February (7pm) when they host Derby Trailblazers.